As Europe bids to make today a day without road deaths, the latest Garda figures show 134 people have died on Irish roads so far this year, 20 more than during the same period in 2015.

With 70 people dying every day on European roads and a further 370 seriously injured, the European Traffic Police Network (Tispol) has declared today “‘European day without a road death’, or Project Edward for short.

It aims for 24 hours free from road deaths by urging drivers to sign a pledge promising to be a safer driver.

The initiative comes following the latest death on Irish roads — a man in his 40’s was killed in single-vehicle accident in Ballygar, Galway, on Monday. His passenger suffered non-life threatening injuries.

“On September 21, and every day, please think about the way you drive, ride or cross the road,” says Tispol president and garda chief superintendent Aidan Reid.

“Think about how you can reduce risk by always wearing a seatbelt, keeping to speeds that are both legal and appropriate for the conditions, not driving after drinking alcohol or taking drugs, and not using a mobile phone at the wheel.

“There have been some excellent reductions in road deaths and serious injuries earlier in this decade, but they have stalled in the past couple of years.”

Project Edward is part of a bid to halve European road fatalities by 2020.

Garda Derek Cloughley of the Garda National Traffic Bureau said the project is really to show road-users: “If we can accomplish it on one day, we can do it every day after.”

Road Safety Authority director Pearse White says road safety is a shared responsibility. “You might think that it’s ok to drive a little bit above the speed limit, or to just have a couple of drinks and drive home, or to not bother putting your seatbelt on in the car.

“But the tragic reality is that these actions could have serious and devastating consequences for others. There are no more excuses — we need to improve how we use the road.”

AA director of consumer affairs Conor Faughnan said: “We have made a lot of progress compared to earlier years but we cannot be satisfied because every road death is avoidable. Initiatives like Project Edward point the way to the future.”

The “unacceptably high” amount of road deaths in Ireland can be reduced with the introduction of new technologies said Ireland South MEP Deirdre Clune.

“I am calling on the European Commission to bring forward the revised roads package which was initially due in early 2016.”

The revised roads package involves the implementation of speed intelligence and emergency braking systems for all new cars made in Europe, Ms Clune said.

“These measures are shown to save lives. 70% of EU road deaths are occurring on our rural roads. These technologies are designed to limit the potential loss of life and I am calling on the European Commission to implement their use without haste,” she added.

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