‘The facts don’t lie. Irish society has a problem with alcohol and it is manifesting itself ultimately on our road death figures as well as playing havoc with the nation’s mental and physical health.
If we don’t halt the rising carnage on our roads now, we will lose all the gains made in 10 years
It seems not a day passes without a fatal crash featuring on our news headlines. Already this year, 130 people have died violently on our roads; 18 more than for the same period last year
So what’s going on this year that is different to last year and in previous years? What has disrupted the downward trajectory in fatal crashes witnessed since the establishment of the Road Safety Authority (RSA) 10 years ago? At that time in 2006, there were 365 road deaths, a state of affairs which was intolerable. The Government intervened to stem the carnage.
When the RSA was established, the aim was to bring together all the Irish players with influence in road safety to collaborate on a coherent strategy to reduce road deaths. Local authorities, An Garda Síochána, Transport Infrastructure Ireland (formerly the National Roads Authority), and the Emergency Services would work with the RSA to improve roads, toughen laws, increase enforcement, ensure better driving standards, safer vehicles and increase public awareness and education. Through all these combined forces, Ireland has succeeded in reducing fatalities from 365 to 164 last year. Our strategic aim is to reduce the number of deaths from road crashes down to 124 deaths per year or fewer by 2020. That’s 10 deaths or fewer per month.
The researchers in the RSA work closely with the Gardaí on detailed post-crash forensic reports. It is grim work, poring over the files of horrific crashes, examining the injuries to victims, toxicology results, pre-crash evidence and witness statements seeking to understand what factors contributed most, or in some cases entirely, to the crash. The main offenders are excessive speed, alcohol and not wearing seat belts.
An analysis of forensic investigations conducted on fatal collisions in the five-year period from 2008 to 2012 showed that 322 people died in accidents where excessive speed was a contributory factor; 91pc of culpable drivers were male; 84pc of drivers involved in speed-related single-vehicle crashes were under 34 years of age. Counties where speed featured most as a factor were Donegal, Cork, Wexford, Cavan and Galway.
Alcohol was a contributory factor in 38pc of driver deaths, 47pc of pedestrian deaths, 42pc of passenger deaths and 30pc of motorcyclist deaths in this period; 86pc of drivers and 51pc of passengers not wearing a seatbelt and who had consumed alcohol were killed.
Of the 858 fatal collisions on Irish in those five years, motor vehicle factors contributed to 101 collisions (12pc) Of these, defective tyres were the main contributor factor, accounting for 8pc. On average, 14 people die each year where defective tyres were the main contributory factor.
The facts don’t lie. Irish society has a problem with alcohol and it is manifesting itself ultimately on our road death figures as well as playing havoc with the nation’s mental and physical health. I am concerned that if we do not address this malaise in our society and communities, we will not make progress in road safety.
Read More – Irish Independent