So said Gay Byrne on the resignation of Noel Brett as CEO of the Road Safety Authority. We in PARC would like to endorse this comment wholeheartedly.
When Noel took up his position in 2005, Ireland had the highest rate of road fatalities per capita in Europe, with 396 precious lives lost on our roads.
By the end of 2012 that figure had been reduced to 162, making us one of the safest countries in Europe. We in PARC have no doubt that this was in large part due to the dedication and leadership of Mr Brett.
Noel genuinely cared about road safety and people. He was a great listener to the families who have lost loved ones and was always prepared to learn from their experiences. He has been a great ambassador for road safety in Ireland and will be a hard act to follow. There are people alive today because of his work.
The sad fact is that the figures for road deaths are now on the rise again, not through any negligence on Mr Brett’s part, but because many drivers are driving in a way that is putting other lives at risk of death or serious injury. Coupled with this is the unfortunate lack of Garda presence on our roads to detect law-breaking drivers and remove them from our roads before they maim and kill. At the time of writing this, there are 9 more road deaths compared to the same period last year.
We, the relatives of the dead and we the injured who are still suffering the loss of those we loved, appeal to all those who use the roads to do so with courtesy, awareness, respect and care for all who share the road.
Road safety must remain a priority for our Government. The fact that road collisions cost the Irish state nearly €793m in 2011 with fatal road crashes making up over €440m of that total figure — just imagine the economic costs in the future due to our continuing rising death toll. This is food for thought for the powers that be. If Michael Noonan were to provide finance for more trained gardaí on our roads it would be self-financing and the reduction in human misery and suffering would be priceless.
(on behalf of PARC road safety group) Culdaff