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Dublin: 10 °C Tuesday 7 July, 2020
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Ireland one of best in EU at reducing deaths of pedestrians

The country sees a decrease in the deaths of the most vulnerable users of the road – but EU-wide report shows that motorcyclists still hugely at risk.

A previous road safety campaign in Ireland being launched by President Mary McAleese in 2009.
A previous road safety campaign in Ireland being launched by President Mary McAleese in 2009.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

IRISH MEASURES TO cut deaths of vulnerable road users have been among the most successful in the EU.

The Road Safety Performance Index for the European Union states that Ireland is “among the best performers in improving the safety of pedestrians”. The country is also praised for making “above average reductions in both the number of killed and seriously injured PTW (powered two-wheelers) riders since 2001″.

However, while Ireland has also reduced the number of cyclist deaths on the road, by just over 2 per cent between 2001 and 2009, that falls below the EU average of a 4 per cent reduction.

The Index, published by the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC), found that a total of 15,300 pedestrians, cyclists and motorbike riders were killed in EU countries in 2009 alone. The total number of those killed in those three categories since 2001 comes to a shocking 169,000.

The number of deaths have been on the wane though – deaths among pedestrians and cyclists decreased by 34 per cent between 2001 and 2009. The number of motorbike riders also decreased in that period, by 18 per cent, but this is still well below the reduction in car driver deaths (39 per cent). Even this overall reduction hides a startling fact – that the number of motorbike riders killed rose in 13 out of 26 countries.

This is the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety and the Road Safety Authority launched its campaign to raise awareness of road safety today.

Here are some of the figures from the PIN report:

  • Portugal has managed the best average year-to-year reduction of pedestrian deaths (11 per cent).  Ireland was eighth best at 7 per cent. Denmark is the only country where there was an average increase in the number of pedestrians killed (up 2 per cent on average year-to-year).
  • The reduction in pedestrian deaths in Ireland, the Czech Republic, and to a lesser extent France and Great Britain, was helped by a reduction in speed on urban roads, according to the report. It says in Ireland though, “there is scope to follow many other European cities by reducing the speed limit to 30km/h”, as the mean speed is still 54km/h with 53 per cent of vehicles breaking the limit.
  • In Poland, 80 per cent of drivers break the speed limit, while in Austria 70 per cent of vehicles exceed the residential zone speed limit of 30km/h. The Czech Republic has done best to reduce the mean speed of vehicles with 80 per cent of drivers obeying the speed limit. That country has had a penalty points system since 2006.
  • Finland achieved a massive 14 per cent reduction in cyclist deaths between 2001 and 2009 but the average reduction across the EU works out at a 4 per cent reduction. Ireland only reduced its figure by just over 2 per cent, while Romania became the only country to record an increase in cyclist deaths at that time, by 3 per cent.
  • The Index records “insufficient progress in reducing deaths among powered two-wheeler users” between 2001 and 2009. A total of 6,145 riders were killed in the EU in 2009, which was only an 18 per cent reduction from eight years previously.
  • While Ireland managed to decrease the number of motorcyclist deaths by an average of 5 per cent year-to-year between 2001 and 2009, the same could not be said for 13 other EU countries which actually recorded an increase in deaths. Finland and Romania were the worst offenders in this category.

The report makes a number of recommendations aimed at further reducing road deaths. It divides these recommendations into categories for the EU and for member states.

  • A number of EU-wide recommendations were made to:
  • Retrofit HGVs with front-view mirrors, improve cabin design, install cameras and active warning systems to prevent accidents happening in their blind spot.
  • Support the development of car windshield airbags by 2015 to protect pedestrians and cyclists who might be thrown across the bonnet of a vehicle.
  • Require vehicle manufacturers to mention EuroNCAP ratings in advertisements to encourage consumers to buy safer vehicles.
  • Draft guidelines for best practice in traffic calming measures to help reduce speeds in urban areas.
  • Introduce minimum requirements for cycle lighting and reflectors.
  • Support walking and cycling as modes of transport – and give them space within a transport system by creating a safe infrastructure.
  • Create a hierarchy of priority for road users, putting pedestrians top, followed by cycling and public transport.
  • Make Automatic Headlights On (AHO) mandatory on all motorbikes.
  • Enforce minimum standards regarding protective clothing and investiage how airbags and leg protectors work as a safety measure on bikes.

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