The Garda Commissioner, Fachtna Murphy, today at Garda Headquarters briefed the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Dermot Ahern T.D., the Minister for Transport, Noel Dempsey T.D., the Minister of State at the Department of Transport (with special responsibility for road safety), Noel Ahern T.D., and the Chief Executive Officer of the Road Safety Authority, Noel Brett, on Garda roads policing and the Christmas Road Safety Campaign.

It was noted that the trend in fatal traffic collisions has been favourable for the past three years, decreasing from 396 in 2005 to 365 in 2006 and to 338 last year.  This represents reductions of 8% and 7% year-on-year.  Progress in reducing fatalities is continuing in 2008.  Up to 9 December, there was a decrease of 45 in the number of people killed on our roads in 2008, compared with the same period last year.  The European Transport Safety Council reports that in 2007 Ireland was ninth best out of 25 EU countries, measured by road deaths per million population.  Ireland was the second most improved country between 2006 and 2007, and Dublin scored the best year-on-year reduction in the number of victims per 100,000 residents in the decade 1997 - 2007. 

Considerable resources are now available for roads policing.  There has been a significant increase in the personnel of the Traffic Corps, which now stands at 1,011, an increase of 77% since 2005.  Garda technical capacity has also been substantially enhanced.  Eight new state of the art mobile speed detection systems recently acquired are now operational, and An Garda Síochána are at an advanced stage in completing the procurement of in-car automated number plate recognition (ANPR) systems which will enable greater detection of stolen and untaxed vehicles and deny the use of the roads to criminals, as well as enhance traffic law enforcement.

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Dermot Ahern T.D., welcomed the positive trend and said:  "It is fitting, particularly coming up to Christmas, that we acknowledge the efforts of An Garda Síochána in trying to save lives on our roads.  At the same time, we need to remind people of the need to behave responsibly and that the Gardaí are there to ensure they do.  I warmly welcome the positive developments in reducing deaths on our roads, but we must not become complacent.  We will all – Government, An Garda Síochána and responsible agencies – continue our efforts to ensure that progress is maintained by making the most efficient use of the resources available."    

The Minister for Transport, Noel Dempsey T.D., said:  "A wide range of Departments and agencies are working to implement the 126 actions set out in the Government’s Road Safety Strategy 2007 – 2012.  I warmly welcome the substantial increases in Garda enforcement levels in recent years, and these are fully reflected in road safety trends."

Minister of State Noel Ahern T.D. said:  "I want to emphasise that road safety is everyone’s responsibility.  We all need to act responsibly on our roads – as drivers, motor cyclists, passengers, cyclists and pedestrians."  

The Chief Executive Officer of the RSA, Noel Brett, said:  "The Road Safety Authority is very conscious that progress in this area cannot be taken for granted and must be consistently worked on.  The Christmas and New Year period often sees a tragic increase in deaths and serious injuries on the roads.  This year the RSA is joining forces with the Commission for Taxi Regulation and MEAS, an initiative by the drinks industry to promote the mature enjoyment of alcohol, to carry out the biggest ever anti-drink driving awareness campaign."

Commissioner Fachtna Murphy said:  "An Garda Síochána continues to focus significant resources on roads policing and road safety.  We have a dedicated corps of people using the most up to date technology and equipment right across the country on a daily basis.  Through our enforcement activity, we are working to change driver behaviour.  We don't want to be out there catching people speeding and drink driving.  Our objective is to stop them and to save lives on our roads".

The Garda enforcement campaign to target drinking and driving over the holiday period has also started.  Enforcing drink driving laws is a priority for the Gardaí throughout the year, along with enforcing the law on speeding and not wearing seat belts – the behaviours which are most responsible for deaths and serious injuries.  The Gardaí attach great importance to working with the public and will continue to make it aware of roads which have been identified as having a propensity for speed related collisions, including through the Garda website.

10 December 2008