Further care urged as fatalities at record low
THE number of deaths on our roads has almost halved over the past decade as the number of fatalities plummeted to a record low last year.
A total of 212 people perished on our roads in 2010.
But this was 26 fewer deaths than the previous year and the lowest since statistics were first kept more than 50 years ago.
Road Safety Authority (RSA) chairman Gay Byrne last night urged people to be proud of the success in dramatically cutting in half the number of deaths over the past decade.
But he also warned against allowing a culture of complacency to creep in next year.
Writing in today's Irish Independent, Mr Byrne says: "I am asking every road-user to set their own personal target to keep up this life-saving behaviour and prevent needless deaths on our roads."
RSA chief executive Noel Brett said the substantial reduction in deaths over the past four years was mainly due to the majority of road users choosing to act responsibly and safely.
"To the small minority who engage in killer behaviour, I would urge them again to reflect on their responsibility," Mr Brett said.
The Government's road safety strategy, higher levels of enforcement and improved roads have all been touted as key factors in the drop.
"The recession also has an impact -- there are simply less journeys being made. All of those factors together have conspired to give us what looks like one of the safest years on Irish roads since records began," Mr Brett said.
But he urged drivers to remember that more than 200 families will still be mourning the loss of a loved one in the new year.
"Every one of those fatalities did not need to happen," he added.
The rollout of the privately-operated mobile speed cameras took place in November after several years of delays.
Gardai pointed out that early figures appeared to indicate the 'Go Safe' cameras had helped save lives from their roll-out on November 16 until December's bad weather hit.
"Some of our evidence shows us there has been a reduction in speed across the network, the consequence of that reduction has been fewer people killed and seriously injured," Assistant Garda Commissioner John Twomey said.
Mr Brett warned it would be a real challenge in 2011 to sustain the reductions, particularly with the struggling economy and reduced numbers of staff.
Despite the drop in deaths, this year witnessed the worst road crash on record in the Republic after seven friends and another man were killed in Co Donegal.
comment: gay byrne, P24