Now we rank among best for cutting road deaths
IRELAND is now ranked among the best performing countries in the world for cutting road deaths.
Over the past decade fatalities have fallen here by 42pc, according to a survey of how 33 countries fared between 2000 and 2010 in tackling the problem.
The survey was published yesterday by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Ireland is the fifth safest country overall based on road fatalities per kilometres driven, or the amount of average mileage. And after decades when road deaths continued to spiral, the report makes clear that authorities are now reversing this alarming trend.
Ireland comes tenth best out of all the OECD countries in reducing road deaths over the past decade. Portugal came top with a 55pc fall, followed by Spain 53pc and France 48pc.
The OECD shows the positive trend is continuing in Ireland, with 239 deaths last year compared with 279 the previous year. And yesterday the figure stood at 150, some 27 down on the same time last year.
Fred Wegman, the chairman of the International Traffic Data and Safety Analysis group, which compiled the data for the OECD, said there had been a significant leap in the reduction of "deadly road incidents" during the first decade of the 21st century.
Mr Wegman was previously engaged by the Irish Government to tour Ireland and analyse enforcement, as well as drawing up measures for one of the road safety strategies more than eight years ago.
Many of his proposals, including the modern road-building programme, reform of the driving test, penalty points, a dedicated garda traffic corps, mandatory drink-driving tests, privately operated speed cameras, lower drink-driving limits, learner permits for novice drivers, have already been introduced or are planned.
Some countries reached the lowest number of road deaths since systematic records began -- among them the US and Switzerland. Denmark had the lowest number of fatalities since 1932 and Canada for almost 60 years. Measured as road fatalities per kilometres driven, the risk of dying in a road accident is smallest in Sweden, followed by the UK and Switzerland.