Advisers urged Dempsey to water down life-saving plans
CIVIL servants advised Transport Minister Noel Dempsey to water down plans credited with saving hundreds of lives on Irish roads.
Mr Dempsey told officials that unless his road safety strategy contained specific target dates it would not succeed and ignored their advice.
They urged him to abandon a timetable to introduce more than 120 life-saving actions, including lowering drink drive limits and reforming driver licensing, training and testing.
If targets were not met, it could have serious implications for the minister, he was told by government advisers.
"I was advised by civil servants not to do this. This was because (failure to deliver the measures) would hang around your neck, they said. I said, 'I'll handle that -- lets put in the targets and deliver on them. If it's a bit short, it's a bit short'," he told the Irish Independent yesterday.
"They didn't do it for malicious reasons."
Implementation of the Government Road Safety Strategy 2008-2012 is two years ahead of its target to reduce road deaths to below 252 by the end of 2012.
The key reforms already delivered or coming down the line next year include:
- Lower drink drive alcohol limits, down from 80mg to 50mg for most drivers, and down to 20mg for learners, novices and professional drivers -- due to start next September.
- The so-called 'on-the-spot' disqualification for drink drivers. This means drivers caught just over the new lower limits will be able to avoid court if they accept a fine, two penalty points and a six months driving ban. This too will be rolled out next September.
- The GoSafe privately operated speed cameras.
- Random roadside breath testing for drink driving, being significantly ramped up over the lifetime of the strategy.
- A new learner permit to replace the discredited provisional licence.
- Fitting all school buses with seat belts.