WHETHER you drive a car, cycle a bike, are a passenger or pedestrian, you are a road user. The safety of Irish roads impacts on your life and you have an opportunity now to have your say on road safety policy for the next ten years.
The Road Safety Authority is developing the next Government Road Safety Strategy which will run from 2021 to 2030 and hearing the views of the public is essential to having a strategy that works.
We want everyone to have their say on what priorities and actions should be included in the new strategy so we can further reduce the number of people being killed and injured in road crashes. We want to hear your ideas, suggestions and recommended approaches to make Irish roads safer.
The next road safety strategy will have a Vision Zero approach at its core. Vision Zero is a best-practice strategy, adopted by other countries in EU, that aims to end all road traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2050.
Some may say that Vision Zero is an unachievable goal, that it will never happen. They may even say that we have gone as far as we can in road safety terms, that further improvement on our roads is impossible to deliver. I’m sure people reacted the same way when John F Kennedy said, ‘We choose to go to the moon’. Like ‘Vision Zero’ Kennedy chose this ambitious goal, not because it was easy but because it was hard. It would define all that was possible and good.
Arguments that road safety goals were impossible to achieve have been made since we started off on our first road safety strategy journey in 1998, and every strategy since. However, despite the ‘doubting Thomas’ we have seen road deaths drop by almost 70% in the intervening years since that first strategy was launched. To put this in context, in 1998 we had on average 38 people killed per month on our roads, that has dropped to an average of 12 per month. But this is still too high a price to pay for our mobility.
Ireland is now a world leader in road safety, ranked the second safest European Union Member State in 2019, in terms of road mortality surpassed only by Sweden, who were the first to introduce Vision Zero in the 1990s.
The reduction in fatalities and serious injuries on our roads has only happened as part of a planned strategic approach and we can do more.
To prevent any fatalities or serious injuries on our roads, we must continue that strategic approach and greater partnerships under the next Government Road Safety Strategy. It will be challenging but is achievable with the highest levels of leadership right down to local community level in this country.
The public consultation is about hearing from road users, your ideas on what Ireland’s road safety priorities should be for the next ten years, how these should be addressed and how we achieve Vision Zero. The RSA is keen that everyone has the chance to consider the road safety priorities for the next ten years and to offer potential solutions.
The RSA also wants to hear people’s views on what Ireland could learn from successful road safety policies and approaches in place in other countries. For instance, if you have come across a road safety intervention that works in another country and could work well in Ireland, please tell us about it. Every idea matters.
By working together and sharing ideas, we can realise the vision of zero deaths on Ireland’s roads.
So, I urge individuals, voluntary groups, businesses and other public sector bodies to have their say in the development of the road safety blueprint and the potential of enabling solutions for the next ten years.
The public consultation is open until tomorrow, November 18. Please contribute to the strategy, your strategy, by visiting rsa.ie and filing out the questionnaire.