Cameras and vests help cut deaths to record low
THE number of pedestrians killed on Irish roads last year fell by 40pc, contributing to the record low in traffic deaths.
Drivers slowing down due to speed cameras and the wearing of high-visibility vests by pedestrians have been credited as crucial factors.
There was also a reduction in the number of people walking home drunk from the pub late at night.
In 2011, 47 pedestrians were killed by vehicles. Last year there were 28. The reduction helped cut the overall number of road deaths from 186 in 2011 to 161 last year – the lowest since records began in 1959.
Road Safety Authority spokesman Brian Farrell said people were more conscious of getting home safely after a night out.
Hundreds of thousands of free high-visibility vests had been distributed, with gardai carrying them in their squad cars and publicans giving them to their customers, he added.
The authority also said drivers were slowing down because of the speed cameras, which improved the chances of pedestrians surviving being hit by a car.
A pedestrian hit at 30kmh has a 90pc chance of surviving, but will be killed nine times out of 10 if a car is travelling at 60kmh.
In the 1970s when drink-driving was rampant, more than 600 people were being killed each year on the roads. As recently as 2001, 411 people lost their lives.
However, more than a decade of road safety measures including the introduction of penalty points in 2003, random breath testing in 2006 and speed cameras in 2010 have saved lives.
Broadcaster Gay Byrne, who has been the public face of the Road Safety Authority since he became chairman in 2006, praised the public for the drop in road deaths.
"While one death is one too many, this is an extraordinary achievement of which you should all be very proud," he said.
Provisional statistics for 2012 show 30pc of road death victims were aged under 25 and 67pc were male.