We're going right way on enforcing road safety, new research shows
RSA survey reveals support for gardai in drive to stamp out drink driving; TV ads the most effective
EARLIER this year we commissioned the independent company Behaviour & Attitudes to conduct research on garda enforcement of road safety. The survey of more than 1,000 adults addressed the following areas:
• What factors have been influential in saving lives on Ireland's roads?
• What are people's attitudes towards the number of gardaí currently enforcing traffic laws?
• It asked them to rate the number of gardaí on our roads who enforce a range of traffic enforcement activities.
• Critically, it asked about the frequency of passing through a garda checkpoint in the past six months.
• It asked them how often they see different types of driving behaviour among road users and whether the level of enforcement of traffic laws by the garda has increased or decreased.
• Lastly it asked if the government should prioritise funding of An Garda to support their efforts to enforce road safety laws.
We commissioned the same research a number of years ago. It allowed us to check what impact the recession was having on roads policing.
We are now able to compare results to see if people's perception on the level of enforcement has improved over recent years.
In answer to the first question on the influential factors that save lives, the majority (95pc) said road safety TV ads.
This was followed by road traffic laws at 92pc and garda enforcement at 90pc. For as long as I've been working in road safety, the TV ads have been consistently cited by the public as the most influential factor in making our roads safe. Of course they don't operate in a vacuum. They work hand in hand with enforcement. The advertising shapes opinions and attitudes and enforcement converts this into behavioural change.
When asked about enforcement, 68pc believe there are not enough/not nearly enough gardaí currently enforcing traffic laws on our roads.
Those aged 50+ are most likely to believe there are not enough gardaí enforcing traffic laws; 20pc think the level of enforcement has increased in the past 12 months.
Compared with results of the survey back in 2013 the number saying there are not nearly enough gardaí has dropped from 27pc to 18pc.
So there are some positive signs from the recent survey.
When asked about the number of gardaí enforcing specific offences such as speeding, drink driving, mobile phone use and dangerous driving, the view that there are insufficient numbers (almost 50pc) is consistent.
One-in-three Irish adults recalled passing through a garda checkpoint on at least a monthly basis recently. The corresponding figure in 2013 was almost one in four. So clearly, in the view of drivers, there has been an increase in enforcement.
What's not so encouraging is the rate of dangerous road behaviour observed by adults. More than three in four witness driving over the speed limit and motorists using mobile phones on at least a weekly basis.
Nearly four in five (78pc) believe the government should prioritise funding to support garda efforts to enforce the law. That is a level of support largely consistent with previous years.
We also sought to see if there was any negative reaction to breath testing and other roads policing issues.
We asked who people trusted to conduct roadside breath testing. An overwhelming nine in 10 said they trusted An Garda to conduct breath tests. That shows the public's trust in efforts of gardaí to tackle drink driving have not been negatively impacted.
Furthermore, 97pc agreed that the gardaí have a vital role to play in making Irish roads safer for all. The findings indicate that when it comes to policing road safety laws, we are moving in the right direction.