Byrne hails record year for road safety
The majority of Irish people are making a special effort to drive with more care and improve their driving behaviour, the chairman of the Road Safety Authority (RSA), Gay Byrne, said yesterday as the country achieved the lowest number of road deaths on record.
A total of 241 people lost their lives on the country's roads in 2009, the lowest number since records began.
Mr Byrne told the Sunday Independent the figure was the result of concerted efforts by the RSA, gardai, the AA and other stakeholders. He pointed out that the five-year road safety strategy, which had targeted a reduction to 252 deaths a year by 2012, had been achieved three years ahead of schedule. The figure is the lowest since records began in 1959. One of the worst years in the last decade was 397 deaths recorded in 2005, while the 2009 figure was down from 279 a year ago.
The RSA said the turnaround was the result of a new road safety culture, but its spokesman, Brian Farrell, cautioned against complacency and said the country must now push to become one of the safest countries in Europe.
"What we have achieved in 2009 is remarkable, but we can save more lives.
"There are countries with better road safety records than ourselves and we have to aim for that. We can become one of the safest countries in Europe if we continue what we are doing," he said.