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Saturday 10 December 2016

'It's time to ring the alarm bells', says minister as road deaths toll continues to rise

Carmel Giles (left) and Gerry Wade (right) with Robert Carey and his parents, Roslyn and Colin, as they promote the road safety campaign
Carmel Giles (left) and Gerry Wade (right) with Robert Carey and his parents, Roslyn and Colin, as they promote the road safety campaign

Transport Minister Shane Ross believes the spate of road deaths over recent days "is very close to a crisis situation".

"We cannot be complacent. This is a really grim situation, particularly approaching the Bank Holiday weekend, which is traditionally a really bad time for road accidents," he said as gardai and the Road Safety Authority launched a joint campaign urging drivers to act more responsibly on the roads and for road users to be more visible as the clocks go back this weekend.

Alarming

"I think it's time to ring the alarm bells and say we can't tolerate a situation like this going on any longer," he said.

"We're talking about a 25pc increase on last year, which is absolutely tragic for many, many people, and that is continuing throughout the year.

"There's a trend developing, which is very worrying."

Mr Ross also described the prospect of gardai going on strike next month as "worrying" in light of the further threats to road safety if drivers use the lack of policing to speed, drink-drive and commit other road offences.

"Obviously drivers themselves have to take greater responsibility. There's also an onus for us and the State agencies to look to see whether the law is being implemented or whether the law is tough enough," on drink driving, speeding and other serious road safety issues, the minister said.

Meanwhile, Moyagh Murdock, CEO of the Road Safety Authority, said while the usual culprits are still to blame for the carnage on our roads - including drink-driving, speeding, using mobile phones while driving and not wearing seat-belts - she also took issue with irresponsible parents of young drivers who allow them to flout the law.

They are just as much to blame for road deaths as the young drivers causing them, she said, for allowing their teenage or adult children who are novice or learner drivers to take the family car, knowing they are not driving accompanied with a qualified driver as required by law.

"We see too many parents taking a step back and allowing their young people to drive unaccompanied," Ms Murdock said. "They know that they're going out at night unaccompanied and they have questions to answer as well.

Responsibility

"We are reiterating the message that a young driver - especially someone on a learner permit - is not experienced enough to handle all situations. They need to be accompanied by an experienced, qualified driver.

"It is over-represented in the number of deaths on our roads of those who were driving unaccompanied. There is a disproportionate number of unaccompanied learner drivers being killed and killing people on our roads so our message is that parents need to take responsibility as well.

"A lot of these crashes happen in parents' vehicles."

The latest road safety report by AIG Insurance found 66pc of respondents want more gardai on the road to tackle drink-driving.

Chief Superintendent Aidan Reid said 145 people are arrested a week for drink-driving.

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