Liz O’Donnell, former deputy leader of the Progressive Democrats, has taken over from Gay Byrne as chairperson of the Road Safety Authority.
She will have her work cut out as she assumes the role at a time when there has been a rise in road deaths for the first time in almost a decade.
RSA statistics show that in 2013, Cork and Dublin had the poorest road safety record while Kerry, Donegal, and Monaghan had the highest fatality rate.
There is little doubt that the RSA has been a huge success since it was set up in 2006. From 2007 to 2013, there was a 44% reduction in road fatalities nationally, dropping from 368 to a record low of 162 in 2012.
But reduced Garda presence has seen that figure rise again. Mr Byrne drew the wrath of Alan Shatter, then the justice minister, when he criticised the reduction in resources for the Garda Traffic Corps, yet there is little doubt that policing visibility does impact on road safety. Let us hope that Ms O’Donnell will get a more sympathetic hearing from the current Justice Minister, Frances Fitzgerald.
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