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Sinn Féin call for renewed focus on improving driver awareness and skills after neww ‘driving over the limit’ figures revealed

30 July, 2007

Sinn Féin Newry and Armagh MLA Cathal Boylan, who is vice chair of the Assembly Environment Committee which has Road Safety as one of its remits, has said that he shares the concern of many at the news that last year 12% of people arrested for driving over the limit in the north of Ireland were from eastern European countries.

The MLA also acknowledged that figures throughout the island of Ireland revealed that quite a few foreign drivers were represented in the number of recorded fatalities.

Mr Boylan said:

"Whilst strong legislation and vigorous enforcement can act as deterrents, it is essential that we ensure that all visitors and in particular all those new nationals who come to live in Ireland who intend driving, are given every opportunity to become fully aware of road traffic vehicle legislation, requirements and responsibilities.

"Making a mistake on the road while driving can and does have fatal consequences. That applies to all drivers whether local or visitors, there is absolutely no margin for error.

"The main priority for individuals driving is to continually concentrate on the sole objective, driving the vehicle from A to B without endangering their own life, the lives of their passengers and other road users."

He said that it was essential that all agencies involved with Road Safety endeavoured to work in partnership with representatives of new nationals, so that effective initiatives could be developed to inform drivers of their responsibilities.

"Practical things like producing leaflets in various languages for workers engaged in driving jobs, issuing of multilingual advice leaflets on speeding, the posting of notes in Polish and East European languages with speeding and parking tickets and the distribution of cards to places of work and leisure which explain speed limits for different roads and vehicles in mph and kmph, are required."

"However on a deeper more informed and educational level, there should be open access to a choice of courses and classes for all who wish to become fully aware of legislation and driving skills.

"It should not be forgotten that 75% of those apprehended in the north for drink driving were local drivers.

"Practically every day across the entire Island of Ireland, we are informed of more death and destruction on our roads. Tackling the 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.

"Whilst recent moves regarding the penalty points system are welcome, realistically it is not enough. It makes sense that there should be the same speed limits in all 32 counties and that all road signs use kilometers per hour, which is actually a requirement of EU Legislation. These measures can be introduced without delay. It is essential that an all-Ireland summit with a view to establishing a single Road Safety Authority for the island is held as a matter of urgency." ENDS

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