New figures published by the Road Safety Authority reveal that 2017 was the safest year on record for road safety in Ireland. While the gardaí, the RSA, and the Department of Transport are each deserving of recognition for the dramatic fall in road deaths, it should also be noted that it is primarily the motorist who has the power to ensure that our roads are as safe as they can be.
Neither is road safety all about fatalities. According to the European Commission, for every death on Europe’s roads, there are an estimated four permanently disabling injuries such as damage to the brain or spinal cord, eight serious injuries, and 50 minor injuries. That is before you even begin to consider the grief and pain suffered by the families and loved ones of those killed or seriously injured.
Despite the latest reduction, Irish roads remain far less safe than those in Sweden or Britain, the two countries designated by the World Health Organization as the safest in the world for motorists and pedestrians.
It is also heartening to see that neither the RSA nor Transport Minister Shane Ross are satisfied with the latest figures and will continue efforts to reduce fatalities even further.
A total of 158 people lost their lives on Irish roads in 2017. That was 28 fewer than the previous year but still too many.
There is still a long way to go in terms of building safer roads and halting dangerous driving practices.