The OECD’s annual International Traffic Safety Data and Analysis Group report for 2008 showed Ireland was the fifth most improved country with a road fatality rate in 2008 of 6.3 per 100,000 population.
A total of 279 road deaths were recorded in the Republic during 2008 compared to a peak of 640 in 1972.
Ireland’s road safety record is certain to improve even further in future OECD studies as the number of road deaths fell even further last year to 239 – the lowest figure since records began over 50 years ago and a 14% decrease on road fatalities in 2008.
The OECD report noted that the number of fatalities in the Republic dropped by 48% between 1970 and 2008 even though the number of vehicles on Irish roads quadrupled during that time. However, the number of crashes which resulted in injuries to road users has only fallen by 6% over the same period.
The report also attributed Ireland’s improving road safety performance on greater compliance levels in recent years with speed limits and the wearing of seat belts.
The Road Safety Authority yesterday thanked Irish road users for improving the culture of safety on Irish roads.
However, an RSA spokesperson warned the OECD report again highlighted how young people, especially those aged 18-20, remain a high risk group as they are three times more likely to be fatally injured that the general population.
“It also found that for a motorcyclist, the risk of dying in a traffic crash per vehicle kilometres travelled is about 23 times higher than that for a car occupant,” said the spokesperson.
Overall, the safest country for road users in terms of road deaths per 100,000 population is Iceland with just 3.81 fatalities followed by the Netherlands, Britain, Sweden and Japan, while the worst is Greece with 14.43 deaths.
Meanwhile, large sections of the M50 motorway around Dublin will have a third lane open in both directions from today.
The National Roads Authority said the new expanded section would open from 6am between the Ballymount and Sandyford junctions.
It follows on from a similar opening of three lanes in both directions between the M1/Airport interchange and the M3/Blanchardstown junction last week.
The two combined sections mean 22km of additional motorway have a third lane.
NRA chief executive Fred Barry said the extended motorway sections should result in improved traffic flows along the entire M50 corridor.
Mr Barry also confirmed that the entire upgrade works on the M50 were on schedule for full completion by the end of the year.