Ireland has achieved “laudable” progress in cutting road deaths, particularly alcohol-related fatalities, according to a European report.
The study by the European Transport Safety Council showed that the number of people over the legal drink-driving limit has plummeted in recent years.
The document, Drink Driving: Towards Zero Tolerance, reported:
* Total road deaths in Ireland fell from 411 in 2001 to 212 in 2010;
* Ireland ranks sixth of the 27 EU states in terms of road deaths per 1m inhabitants;
* Drink-driving related deaths dropped from 124 in 2003 to 48 in 2007, the last available year;
* Share of alcohol-related deaths out of total road fatalities has fallen from 37% to 14%.
“Ireland has made laudable road safety progress since the Government adopted a strategic approach to road safety in 1998 and is one of the good performers in reducing the number of road deaths,” the report states.
The study said that the country had implemented comprehensive measures to increase road safety and tackle drink driving.
It said the Government had shown “strong commitment in tackling alcohol at the wheel” and had achieved “impressive reductions” in the number of associated deaths. Reasons included “hard-hitting” radio and television campaigns, mandatory alcohol testing, increased Garda resources, and cuts in the legal alcohol limit in 2010.
The report commended the decision to reduce the drink-driving limit, noting that the measure “required considerable political leadership”. It said the reduction in alcohol-related deaths had occurred while alcohol consumption had actually risen in the country.
The study said: “During the past decade a stark change in the attitude concerning the risks related to drink driving has occurred in the Irish society.”
The report said the percentage of roadside tests above the legal limit had fallen from 4.1% of tests in 2007 to 1.9% in 2010. The council urged the Government to maintain the number of alcohol roadside tests.
It recommended new technologies such as the alcohol interlock, which requires a driver to breathe into a device in the car to check for alcohol before the engine will start.
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