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Ireland praised for its record on low road deaths

Deaths on Irish roads have dropped to record low levels over the past six years.

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File
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

IRELAND’S LOW LEVEL of road deaths was praised yesterday by the European policing initiative TISPOL.

Members of TISPOL, the European Police Traffic Network, visited Dublin yesterday to discuss the issue of road safety with Irish police, Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan, Transport Minister Leo Varadkar and Minister for Justice Alan Shatter.

Ireland saw the number of road deaths fall to 186 in 2011, which was the lowest level on record and was down 26 from 2010. It meant that the Government’s target of no more than 262 road deaths a year by 2012 was achieved well ahead of target.

Recognised internationally

At a press briefing yesterday, TISPOL President Koen Ricour said that Ireland is recognised internationally as one of the good performers in the EU in road safety, and praised the reduction in road deaths seen in recent years.

“We believe that much can be learnt by other European countries from the achievements in Ireland,” he said, adding that TISPOL will work to identify specific Irish initiatives that could be replicated elsewhere.

It has been very pleasing to find that Ireland’s figures have continued to drop and are now at the lowest level ever.

TISPOL was founded in 2000 by the traffic police forces of Europe to improve road safety and reduce the carnage on roads. The visit by TISPOL came during Ireland’s presidency of the EU, and was organised for TISPOL to support the gardaí in highlighting progress in road casualty reduction.

The death toll across Europe’s roads in 2000 was 54,000, but by 2010 this had reduced to just over 30,000.

Alcohol limits

At the briefing, Minister Shatter spoke about alcohol limits and said that no one in public life should encourage individuals over the legal limit to drive.

Minister Varadkar said that EU Member States “can achieve so much more on road safety if they work together”, and noted that he is to launch a new seven-year Road Safety Strategy in March.

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan said that the TISPOL organisation allows Ireland “to easily cross borders and boundaries to bring all EU Police forces together with the vital goals of reducing fatal and serious injury collisions” while also intercepting and detecting criminals who use the roads. He said that the challenge for 2013 will be to further reduce the number of lives lost and injuries on the roads.

The Commissioner also spoke about criminals in Ireland, and how they travel by road to carry out their illegal activities. He said that operations such as Operation Fiacla have had success in targeting travelling criminals involved in burglaries and other serious criminal activity.

EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas was quoted as saying that countries need to intensify their efforts in cutting road deaths, and that he assumed countries would not scale back on work in this area due to financial concerns.

The media was praised during the briefing, with both Ministers saying that media outlets help to raise awareness of the issues around road deaths. Minister Varadkar said that the media has helped to champion road safety, and helped shape “a culture of change”.

Read: Varadkar: Ireland needs to be “wiser” about investment in transport>

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