Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Mr Shane Ross, and the Department for Infrastructure in Northern Ireland, are calling on road-users throughout the island of Ireland to join the international community in support of the fourth UN Global Road Safety Week which will take place from Monday 8 May to Sunday 14 May. The Week will focus on speed and what can be done to address this key risk factor for road traffic deaths and injuries.The call to road users is also backed by the Road Safety Authority (RSA), An Garda Síochána and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).
The Fourth UN Global Road Safety Week seeks to increase understanding of the dangers of speed and generate action on measures to address speed, thereby saving lives on the roads. Speed contributes to around one-third of all fatal road traffic crashes in high-income countries, and up to half in low- and middle-income countries.
In 2016 the RSA published the results of an analysis of garda forensic investigations into fatal crashes, in the Republic of Ireland, between 2008 and 2012 which revealed that 322 people died, and 74 were seriously injured in collisions where excessive speed was a contributory factor. It also found that excessive speed for the road and conditions was a main contributory factor in 1 in 3 fatal crashes.
Between 2012-2016, 55 people have been killed and 397 seriously injured where speeding was the principal factor. The fact is, over the last decade, excessive speed has been the single biggest principal factor accounting for road deaths in Northern Ireland, and was responsible for almost a quarter of fatalities.
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Mr Shane Ross, Republic of Ireland said: “In an emergency you need time and space to allow you to stop your car safely. You simply cannot do this if you are travelling too fast for the road and conditions. It’s also a law of physics that the faster you drive, the more likely you are to be involved in a collision and the more likely the outcome will result in death or injury. Even speeds a driver considers low can be lethal for vulnerable road users. For example hit at 50km/h a pedestrian or cyclist has only a 50% chance of survival. My message to drivers is to slow down, drive at a speed that is appropriate to the conditions, and remember a speed limit is not a target.”
The Department for Infrastructure, Northern Ireland, advises that, as a driver or rider, your speed is your responsibility. Driving at speeds too fast for the road and conditions can be dangerous and that speed does not need to be high to kill or seriously injure. Even a 5% increase in average speed, increases the risk of serious injuries by over 15% and deaths by 25%. The Department encourages drivers to slow down – what will be a matter of seconds off your journey, could end up taking years off your life, or someone else’s. A driver chooses to speed. Speed makes everything worse – combine speed with human error or the unexpected and the consequences will be tragic. You can never control the consequences if you speed.
Ms Moyagh Murdock, Chief Executive, Road Safety Authority said: “While our attitudes need to change in relation to speeding, technology and engineering also have a role to play. For example, the use of Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) as a measure to reduce speed on our roads needs to be made a standard feature on new vehicles. ISA uses a speed sign-recognition technology to advise drivers of the speed limit; the most advanced systems can give drivers the option to automatically limit the speed of the vehicle in a given speed zone. ISA has the potential to reduce collisions by 30% and reduce deaths by 20%. We also need to see the rollout of 30km/h speed limits in the centres of our towns and cities to protect our most vulnerable road users, namely pedestrians and cyclists. The list of benefits extend beyond the obvious road safety ones, they include environmental benefits, health benefits and economic benefits. I have previously called on all local authorities to introduce more 30km/h zones in their areas and I renew that appeal again now.”
Assistant Garda Commissioner Michael Finn, Roads Policing, said “An Garda Síochána is supporting UN Global Road Safety Week and its focus on speeding. Speed limit enforcement is a key focus for An Garda Síochána as part of our Roads Policing Plan 2017. Later in the month Gardaí will be holding its first Slow-Down Day of 2017 which involves a 24 hour nationwide speed enforcement blitz. I would invite all road users to redouble their efforts to make our roads safer, not just for UN Global Road Safety week, but for every day of every week.”
Police Service of Northern Ireland Assistant Chief Constable Barbara Gray said, “So far this year, Police officers have visited the homes of 19 families across Northern Ireland to deliver the devastating news that one of their loved ones has been killed on our roads. Many more families are helping loved ones cope with serious, life changing injuries.”
“While everyone shares the responsibility for road safety, our appeal to drivers and riders is very simple; Slow down; Pay greater attention to the road and your surroundings; If you’re travelling in a vehicle, always wear a seatbelt and never drive or ride a motorbike or scooter after drinking or taking drugs.”
To mark UN Global Road Safety Week the RSA will be taking the road safety messages into communities and schools around the country through its National Road Safety Education Officers who are based around the country. The Department for Infrastructure and the RSA will also be running a series of anti-speeding messages during the week on social media.
A total of 54 people have lost their lives on the roads in the Republic of Ireland to date in 2017. This is nine fewer up to the same period in 2016. A total of 19 people have lost their lives on the roads in Northern Ireland to date in 2017. This is the same as up to the same period in 2016 and five fewer than at the same time in 2015.