The government’s fourth Road Safety Strategy 2013-2020
Ireland’s fourth Road Safety Strategy builds on the progress and understanding provided by the first three strategies (1998–2002), (2004–2006), (2007–2012) with the objective of sustainably improving safety on Irish roads. This new Strategy, called ‘Closing the Gap’, will cover the period 2013 to 2020(PDF).
Significant progress has already been achieved since Ireland first began to pursue a strategic approach to road safety in 1998. Roads deaths are down by 65.7% (1997-2012) and Ireland is now the fifth safest country in the European Union for road collision fatalities per million population. This achievement may be set against an increase in the number of cars of 66%. When the costs of fatalities and serious injuries are analysed, the financial benefits to society are conservatively estimated at in excess of €1bn per annum.
Road Safety Strategy 2007–2012
Independent analysis would suggest that during the lifetime of the most recent Strategy its measures contributed to the prevention of over 686 fatal collisions, 1,312 serious injury collisions and 649 minor collisions. The various road safety interventions and targets set out in the Road Safety Strategy 2007-2012(PDF), coupled with an ever strengthening road safety culture, have resulted in a successful period in road safety for Ireland. There has been significant improvement in compliance by road users in respect of the main collision causation factors such as seatbelt wearing, speeding and alcohol related offences. The reduction in fatalities has been achieved through a number of robust actions under the headings of education, engineering, and enforcement, as well as significant legislative changes, including the following:
- alcohol testing - reduced BAC and introduction of Mandatory Alcohol Testing Checkpoints
- increased / targeted enforcement by Garda Traffic Corps and introduction of Safety Camera Network
- new penalty points and increased sanctions for road and vehicle offences
- development and upgrade of much of the major Interurban road network
- comprehensive community and school based education programme and a high profile media awareness programme
- vehicle testing and increased frequency of testing for older vehicles.
A New, Longer-Term Strategic Approach
The new Government Road Safety Strategy adopts a longer term horizon than previous strategies and will run from 2013 to 2020. This will bring Ireland into line with the timing of the European Union’s own Road Safety Strategy. This longer term horizon makes it all the more essential to engage in a continuing process of review and adaptation of measures through the lifetime of the Strategy. In this context, provision is made for a mid-term review of the Strategy in 2016.
Ireland is now looking to move towards a Safe Systems approach to road safety for the remainder of this decade. This approach builds on existing road safety interventions, but reframes the way in which road safety is viewed and managed in the community. It addresses all elements of the road transport system in an integrated way with the aim of ensuring collision energy levels are below what would cause fatal or serious injury. It requires acceptance of shared overall responsibilities and accountability between system designers and road users and it stimulates the development of innovative interventions and new partnerships necessary to achieve ambitious long term road safety targets.
All of the 144 actions contained in the new Strategy are intended to make the roads safer. The basic assumption in this Strategy is that the objectives can be achieved, without fundamentally changing our mobility system, and within the budgets set aside for the purpose.
The following are some of the issues that reflect the priorities set at EU level and the views arising from the public consultation and the consultations with the primary stakeholders, including Government departments and agencies. These are reflected in the actions in this Strategy and include Work Related Vehicle Safety, Medical Fitness to Drive, Drug Driving, Fatigue, Distraction – Mobile Phones, Vulnerable Road Users, Emergency Response and Care. The Strategy recognises the need to ward against complacency and to ensure continual enforcement of the law.
Focus of the Road Safety Strategy 2013–2020
The Government has adopted a highly ambitious vision for road safety in Ireland and for the remainder of the decade. Ireland had approximately 41 fatalities per million population in 2011. The Strategy requires a reduction of road collision fatalities on Irish roads to 25 per million population or less by 2020. This means reducing deaths from 186 in 2011 to 124 or fewer by 2020.
In addition to continuing to reduce fatalities, a number of actions will be taken within the Strategy to reduce the number of serious injuries. With a target of 124 fatalities by 2020, a realistic target for serious injuries should be in the region of 330 by 2020 or 61 per million populations. Reduced fatalities and serious injuries will realise benefits for public health policy objectives, as well as reduced demands on the emergency services. A safer road environment will encourage more road users to walk and cycle, thus improving their wellbeing, reducing congestion and improving the environment. Better driving will reduce fuel costs and transport related emissions which will benefit everyone, especially those involved in business and industry.
Proposed Approach to Monitoring and Implementation and Evaluation
The broad monitoring arrangements that were instrumental in the success of the previous Strategy will be maintained. There will be an annual review of the Strategy involving the lead Departments and Agencies. Progress in implementing the Strategy will be reported in the context of the Annual Report of the RSA to the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport. This report will be informed by consultation with the major stakeholders. A mid-term evaluation of the Strategy will be implemented in 2016 and this will provide an opportunity to recalibrate targets and to implement adjustments to the education, engineering and enforcement measures as required.
The Ministerial Committee on Road Safety will continue to oversee the implementation of the Strategy. Ongoing monitoring and outcome measurement will be augmented by the midterm review. The review will include an analysis of all socio-economic costs and burdens in relation to road safety as well as congestion/disruption costs.
The 4 pillars of road safety
- Targeted safety campaigns in schools
- Safety campaigns within wider society
- Training scheme for vocational drivers
- Driver testing and licensing
- Road haulage industry
- Testing regimes for motor vehicles
- Contribute to EU rules on vehicle standards
- Assist National Roads Authority with road design
- Road safety research
- Measuring effectiveness of road safety initiatives