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Governments need to show greater urgency in tackling growing numbers of deaths on our roads

21 July, 2006


Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP, speaking after the introduction of the new Road Traffic Act which allows Gardaí to randomly stop and breathalyse drivers and bans motorists from using hand-held mobile phones said such measures were just one part of an overall strategy that was required to reduce the numbers of deaths on our roads. Mr. Adams called on the British and Irish governments to convene an all-Ireland summit to establish a single Road Safety Authority for the entire island.  

Mr. Adams said:

"298 people have died on roads across the entire island of Ireland since the start of this year, something which has caused huge heartache to many families and communities across the country.  Tackling this issue is made all the more difficult because we have two separate transport systems on the island -- different road signs, driver education and speed limits. 

"The reality is that the number of deaths on our roads can be reduced through public policy, education and greater enforcement of the law.   The new Road Traffic Act, which came into effect at midnight which allows Gardaí to randomly stop and breathalyse drivers and bans motorists from using hand-held mobile phones said are just one part of an overall strategy which is required to reduce the numbers of deaths on our roads. 

"I want to call on Minister Martin Cullen and British Direct Rule Minister, David Cairns to meet as a matter of urgency to convene an all-Ireland summit with a view to establishing a single Road Safety Authority for the entire island.

"It makes practical sense that there should be the same speed limits in all 32 counties and that all road signs use kilometres per hour which is actually a requirement of EU legislation.  These are measures that can be introduced without undue delay.

"The fact that so many young people are involved in accidents indicates that we need to address the problem from an educational point of view.  Road safety should be part of the school curriculum All young people leaving school should be fully versed in the rules of the road and where possible be given practical tuition.  As part of this driving lessons should  be more affordable to ensure their take-up.  Awareness raising around the dangers of drunk driving and excessive speed must also continue.

"It is also essential that specific emphasis is eliminating accident black spots where significant numbers of accidents and particularly those involving fatalities occur.  This means taking measures to increase visibility and reduce speed.

"It is also clear that the law needs to be tighten up. The fact is that thousands of people in the 26 counties, who are on provisional licences, drive unaccompanied on our roads in breach of the law.  There are thousands more who hold provisional licences, have failed their tests but who are lawfully allowed to drive unaccompanied.  All of this needs to be tightened up.  The current driver testing back-log, a result of government inaction, needs to be addressed by engaging in dialogue with the unions

"The message needs to go out that the governments are serious about tackling the tragedy of deaths on our roads."ENDS

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