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Gaybo lashes out at Traffic Corps cutback

GAY Byrne has hit out at "madcap" proposals to break up the Garda Traffic Corps.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) chairman was speaking ahead of end-of-year figures which are likely to show the annual toll of road deaths falling to below 200 for the first time since records started in 1959.

A Government review has proposed that the Garda Traffic Corps be broken up to free up personnel for other duties.

"It is madcap -- well, it is to me and the RSA," Byrne said.

The Corps had already been reduced from its top strength of 1,200 to 900.


"We had a lousy November and a bad December (for road deaths)," he said.

There would always be road crashes but influencing driver behaviour was a key component of road safety, he said.

He praised road users for a change in attitude, but said enforcement was crucial and warned of complacency.

A recent comment from the Department of Justice that numbers in the Garda Traffic Corps could be further reduced was "a terrible indicator".

Mr Byrne cautioned against drawing conclusions from the figures before the end of the year, but said many of the main initiatives in road safety were now in place.

Noel Brett, RSA chief executive, said today that the figure for road deaths had declined six years in a row and contrasted it with the 640 deaths in 1972, the worst ever.

He warned that there are eight days left in the year and thousands of commuters were on the move over the holiday.

The biggest single factor was a change in the behaviour of Irish road users which had saved hundreds of lives but the strategy of the three "Es", education, engineering and enforcement, was also working.

There have been 177 road deaths so far this year, 31 fewer than the corresponding date last year. If numbers stay below 212 for the entire year, it will be the sixth successive year of reductions in road deaths.

The RSA has urged all road road users to take responsibility for their own safety and the safety of others on the roads over the Christmas period.


Mr Brett said: "While this may be a time for celebration for most people, tragically there are 177 families sitting down to Christmas dinner who are grieving the loss of a loved one as a result of a fatal crash in 2011."

He asked drivers to "watch out for pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists and expect the unexpected".

"You simply do not know what is waiting around the next corner," he said.

Gardai say the road safety campaign for the festive season is in operation with targeted enforcement on driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, speeding and people who don't wear seatbelts.