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A car pulled over for speeding offences @GardaTraffic
Road Safety

Road safety chief warns 'concerning trend' in road deaths could lead to higher fines

At an RSA event today, Waide said that an increase in fines and penalty points this year isn’t “ruled out”.

ROAD SAFETY AUTHORITY (RSA) chief executive officer, Sam Waide, has said today that the amount of road deaths in the first four months of the year was “concerning”.

50 people were killed in road traffic accidents from the beginning of 2022 until mid April, an alarming reversal from the previous year which was the safest year for Irish roads since records began in 1959.

During the same period in 2021 only 29 people died on Irish roads and Waide said that action may need to be taken or road deaths could reach 180 by the end of this year.

This is despite the December launch of the government’s ten-year strategy of 50 high-impact actions to increase road safety by the end of the decade.

One of the actions planned for completion during Phase One of the strategy is a review of the penalties for serious road offences, however Waide indicated this may need to be pushed forward.

“We have got 50 high impact actions until the end of 2024 and we’ll continue with them, I have confidence that if we deliver those actions we should be able to contain the concerning trend we’ve seen so far. But additional extraordinary actions aren’t ruled out if this trend continues throughout the year.

“That’s something that an Garda Síochána, the Department of Transport and the RSA will continually review based on the fatalities, underlying causes and locations,” he said.

Waide added that possible “extraordinary actions” could include increasing fines and penalty points for unsafe driving and said Ireland could work with other European countries to establish new measures.

He gave no indication of how much these increases could potentially be.

As of 2021, Norway had the safest roads in Europe with 16 road fatalities per million inhabitants, while Ireland came seventh with 27 deaths per million according to data from the European Commission.

Norway also has the strictest fining regime in Europe, with the highest minimum fines for motorway speeding (€711), drink driving (€5,783), and running a red light (€756).

Driving safety site Zutobi also ranked Ireland as one of the ten least strict countries in Europe for fines at €90 or motorway speeding, €200 drink driving and €80 running a red light, with fines for those three offences almost 20 times lower than Norway.

The government’s 2021-2030 strategy aims to set the groundwork for achieving ‘Vision Zero’: eliminating all road deaths by the year 2050, and halving road deaths by 2030.

A €3.8 billion investment has been earmarked for the first phase of this strategy and one of the earliest deadlines for the strategy’s actions is a study of countries that have adopted car free streets in urban areas.

This study will then make recommendations on how Ireland can do the same and have findings ready by the end of this year.

Speaking at an RSA awareness event for primary school students at Dublin Castle today, Waide also added that reducing the amount of unaccompanied learner permit drivers was a key aim.

“We’re trying to raise awareness in a pro-active way on learner permits, we’re focusing in on trying to encourage people to do their tests and increase the standard of driving on our roads.”

One action in the ten-year strategy aims to reduce the number of learner drivers who hold a third or subsequent learner permit from 24.6% to a maximum of 10% by 2024.


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