Thursday 12 January 2017
Following a 15% rise in the number of road fatalities in 2016 , when a total of 187 people lost their lives, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport called a Special Meeting of the Ministerial Committee on Road Safety today.
Attendees included Minister Ross, the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, CEO of the Road Safety Authority, Moyagh Murdoch, Attorney General Maire Whelan and Assistant Garda Commissioner Michael Finn.
Minister Ross said that the purpose of the Special meeting was to bring together all stakeholders to see what immediate actions could be taken to reverse the upward trend in road fatalities.
He congratulated the Gardaí on a very effective Christmas Drink-Driving Campaign which saw a 34% increase in the number of detections of drink driving but was adamant that these checkpoints must continue along with increased enforcement if further lives are to be saved.
Minister Ross said; “I am determined to bring the number of deaths on our roads down in 2017. That is the bottom line. The new laws we have already introduced combined with the measures agreed today by all stakeholders are aimed at achieving this goal. I am committed to doing everything within my power as Minister to reduce the horror of needless road traffic deaths, particularly among young drivers."
Minister Ross also plans to introduce legislation in the near future which will “name and shame” disqualified drivers, a proposal supported by the Road Safety Authority.
In addition he said; “we will also legislate to ensure that all drivers, if caught drink driving, will in future receive a mandatory disqualification.”
The Tánaiste said; "I am very pleased to see that the focus on smarter and better targeted policing from An Garda Síochána has already yielded results and this will continue throughout 2017. The Commissioner has indicated that there will be an additional 10% increase in the traffic corps during the course of 2017 , which should also lead to better outcomes in relation to road traffic enforcement."
Minister Ross welcomed the assurance that there will be an increase in 10% in the traffic corps during 2017 which will result in more check points and greater enforcement of traffic law.
Assistant Commissioner Finn of An Garda Síochána also informed the meeting that it was intended to have a stronger focus on road traffic enforcement in the training provided to new recruits at Templemore. Welcoming this development, the Tánaiste stated "The Government has committed to increasing the overall Garda workforce, involving the recruitment of some
3,200 new Garda members on a phased basis over the next four years, to ensure that the service is renewed and has the capacity to provide visible, responsive and effective policing, including in the area of road traffic enforcement."
Minister Ross asked that the Ministerial Committee on Road Safety meet again in March.