One of the undoubted success stories of Irish public administration and changing culture for the better has been the tremendous reduction in road deaths.
During the first year of this century, hardly half a lifetime ago, 415 people died on our roads, and more than 12,000 were injured. In 1972 a barely credible 640 lives were lost. Extensive campaigning, effective policing, and a public realisation that change was necessary cut that figure to a comparatively modest 148 last year.
Despite that, the head of the Road Safety Authority last year challenged An Garda Síochána on the force’s commitment to road safety after restructuring plans suggested traffic policing would no longer be the responsibility of a dedicated assistant commissioner. These charges were rejected and the proposal was reviewed.
Thankfully, this difference seems to have been resolved especially as the great cultural change around responsible driving is at least as important as the bureaucratic structure supporting that progress.