Donegal County Council has been hailed for its spending on road safety, in some cases spending almost 27 times more than similar counties.
FOI figures have revealed that Donegal County Council spent €521,648 from 2014 until 2018 on road safety and anti drink-drive artwork, marketing and training.
Donegal had 10 deaths on its roads last year, spending 27 times Tipperary’s €18,919.89, which had 11 fatalities on its roads in the same time period. Both counties have a similar population or around 159,000 people.
When presented with the figures, the Irish Road Victims Association said it “welcomes Donegal’s efforts and financial investment in trying to prevent death and injury in the county, which has suffered greatly”.
Cork County Council spent €73,181, seven times less than that of Donegal, and the county had 16 road deaths in 2018.
Donegal spends as much as Clare (€60,249), Tipperary (€18,919.89), Monaghan (€9,459.76) and Cork (€73,181) put together in the years 2014-2018.
Larger county councils such as Dublin and Galway spent €3,397,651 and €2,806,356.79 respectively.
Donegal has been blighted with a reputation for a high rate of road deaths for a number of years.
There has been intense public concern over a number of incidents in which young people lost their lives on the roads. Most recently, four young men who died in a single-vehicle incident in Gortahork in January this year.
Some 123 people have lost their lives on the county’s roads in the last 10 years.
Due to such a high rate of fatalities, the county council says it has been forced to take more proactive action to tackle the issue, and defend the spending, which it says is value for money if it saves lives, noting the county has seen a marked reduction in deaths, from 19 in 2010 to 10 in 2018.
“Reducing the number of deaths and injuries on Donegal’s roads is a responsibility we all share and Donegal County Council through the Donegal Road Safety Working Group (DRSWG) is committed to continuing to work with all our partners to achieve this aim,” a spokesman said.
“Education is the central focus of the DRSWG. Changing attitudes, behaviour and the culture of road users are key targets we will continue to work to improve these and in turn save lives.
“The DRSWG delivers a range of road safety campaigns or initiatives through schools which are complemented by programmes delivered to sporting organisations and community groups.”
It states that a considerable amount of the money has been spent on campaigns in local media, such as Highland Radio and the Donegal Daily newspaper, and artwork for partnerships with local sporting clubs and the annual Donegal Road Safe Road Show.
Evidence from the Road Safety Authority states that the estimated cost of a fatal collision is €2,776,494.
Donna Price, a spokeswoman for the Irish Road Victims Association, praised the council for its working group, but said much more needs to be done.
“We welcome the funding being invested by county councils throughout the country in vital lifesaving road safety efforts,” she said.
“We cannot put a price on a life taken so needlessly. These are not deaths by incurable diseases. We know the causes and we must do everything in our power to prevent them.
“We welcome their efforts and financial investment in trying to prevent death and injury in the county which has suffered greatly in this regard. Still much more remains to be done.
“Too many lives have already been destroyed needlessly in totally preventable collisions. Many through no fault of their own. We must all do more to save lives and prevent injury.”
Former deputy mayor of Donegal and Sinn Féin Senator Padraig MacLochlainn said Donegal is leading the way despite disappointing figures.
He said: “In fairness to DCC, they have led the way in this regard over many years following so many devastating tragedies on our county’s roads.
“I would emphasise that while it is disappointing to see Donegal’s road deaths still high by national standards, the number of road deaths have thankfully reduced significantly over the years.
“The key point is that there is no room for complacency, and Donegal has led the way because we have suffered so much heartbreak.”
- Press Association