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Speed is the Road Safety Issue - Boylan

5 November, 2007

Newry and Armagh Sinn Féin MLA Cathal Boylan has said that speed is the Road Safety issue. The MLA who is his Party's Road Safety spokesperson told a recent meeting involving colleagues from border areas, that the wrong speed choice killed three times as many people as drink driving.

Mr Boylan said:

"Unfortunately speeding is considered by most drivers to be the moral equivalent of parking on a double yellow line.

"The casualty statistics are only the tip of the iceberg. Inappropriate road speeds are the biggest source of danger on our streets. With low levels of enforcement, low political priority placed on speed control, and cars still dominant in our transport system, it is drivers who determine who uses the streets and how. It is drivers who decide what is safe for everyone else.

"Road safety is seen by many drivers as less important than pollution or congestion. And although many say that the safety of pedestrians and cyclists is 'a major problem' the extent to which speed limits are flouted indicates that drivers are unwilling to accept responsibility for the safety of vulnerable road users, or for their share in creating a dangerous environment.

"There is also an argument that the law supports this by assuming that all road users, including child pedestrians, have equal responsibility for road safety. By contrast, health and safety legislation requires those who create the hazards to take primary responsibility for safety."

The Sinn Féin MLA said that every year hundreds of people were killed on Irish roads and the fact was that many of these deaths were preventable if the governments seriously dealt with the issues involved and individual drivers showed greater responsibility.

Mr Boylan concluded:

"There can be no doubt also that the current existence of two separate and incompatible road safety systems on the island is creating dangerous and hazardous conditions in the border areas. The harmonisation of speed limits, road signs and other safety measures is not only essential but simple common sense.

"Sinn Féin is urging Government agencies in both jurisdictions to adopt a collective and cohesive road safety policy. It is vital that there is an all-Ireland response to the crisis on our roads. A zero tolerance to alcohol and drugs throughout the island would eliminate both the risk and the public confusion caused by the current incompatible systems in operation on either side of the border.

"Motor vehicles become lethal weapons if operated under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Drink driving is the main contributing factor to single vehicle collisions and is a factor in more than one third of all fatal crashes. Drug driving is also on the increase.

"Sinn Féin recently put forward comprehensive policy proposals aimed at making Ireland's roads save and prevent unnecessary loss of life on every road on the island of Ireland. We intend to endeavour to see these policies accepted and introduced." ENDS

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