Breathalysers that talk to vehicles among hi-tech solutions in new road strategy

Breathalysers that talk to vehicles among hi-tech solutions in new road strategy

A new road safety strategy has been launched, focusing on the effects of serious injuries, and including some hi-tech solutions to irresponsible driver behaviour.

The plan aims to close the gap between Ireland and other, safer EU countries and has targeted a reduction to a maximum 124 road deaths and 330 serious injuries by 2020.

The strategy, called 'Closing the Gap', includes measures such as an "alcolock" to immobilise vehicles, a handbrake lock policy for employers to deter staff from using mobiles while driving and in-vehicle devices that sense tiredness.

Alcolock systems connect a breathalyser with a vehicle immobolizer via a wireless system. The immobilizer kicks in if a breathalyser test shows the driver has been drinking.

A handbrake lock policy would involve employers fitting devices to cars to prevent employees using a mobile unless the vehicle's handbrake is activated.

Breakdown kits for cars will also be made compulsory.

Many of these measures are still in their infancy and none is mandatory yet, but could be activated by judges when it comes to sentencing.

The strategy was launched by the Transport Minister Leo Varadkar at a major European road safety conference in Dublin Castle this morning.

Minister Varadkar said: "Ireland has made huge advances, and was the fifth safest country in the EU in 2011. Ireland outperformed the EU average in reducing road fatalities by 12% in 2012…We now want to make Ireland one of the safest countries in the EU in terms of road deaths, if not the world."

Breathalysers that talk to vehicles among hi-tech solutions in new road strategy

This is Ireland's fourth road safety strategy, and comes when road deaths are on the increase when compared to the same time last year.

Chief executive of the Road Safety Authority Noel Brett said: "For a civilised society to be having a strategy that says we're going to kill 124 of our citizens and we're doing well, just shows the context this is in."

The new strategy will focus on the effect of serious injuries on crash victims. One such survivor, Siobhan O'Brien, who suffered serious head injuries in a collision in 2001 said it has had a huge effect on her life.

"I no longer work as a social worker," she said, "and while I have worked voluntarily in secretarial tasks, it is difficult to find work."

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