New road strategy to cut road injuries by a third
A NEW road safety strategy will aim to cut the number of people seriously injured in crashes by a third.
Transport Minister Leo Varadkar will tomorrow unveil targets to make another significant reduction to the national death toll after the level of fatalities more than halved since 2007.
And the focus will also switch to people suffering severe brain, spinal and leg injuries after Road Safety Authority (RSA) figures revealed 485 people were seriously hurt in road accidents last year.
The aim is to get that down to 330 a year.
Mr Varadkar said he is conscious of the need to prevent "a creeping complacency over road deaths" following years of improvements.
The Government will use a European road safety conference in Dublin Castle tomorrow to detail the new 2020 targets which will target further reductions in road deaths after falls of 12% each year for the last two years in a row.
The strategy aims over the next seven years to make Ireland one of the safest countries to travel by road in Europe, if not the world.
European Commissioner for transport Siim Kallas said the focus should be on reducing the hundreds of people seriously injured in road accidents following the success in slashing the death toll.
"Quite apart from the human tragedy of road accidents for those who are sadly involved and their families and loved ones, the economic cost to society is estimated at 250 billion euro," he said.
"That's too high a price to pay. The next major battle is to drive down the unacceptably high numbers of serious road injuries. We need Ireland, and other EU countries who are leaders in road safety, to play a pioneering role in this area."
For every person killed on Europe's roads there are 10 serious injuries such as damage to the brain or spinal cord.
Commissioner Kallas added: "Even one road death is a death too many. And fatal road accidents are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to road safety."
Ireland now ranks among the top five safest countries in the EU for fatal collisions.
Some 161 people lost their lives on Irish roads last year, 25 less than 2011 and 51 fewer than 2010.
According to the RSA, there was a 56% decrease in road deaths and a 51% reduction in serious injuries up to the end of 2011 since the third road safety strategy was launched in 2007.
Cavan was the only county in Ireland to record an increase in the level of fatalities from 2007 to 2012, up by a fifth.