In Ireland, the better safety record of motorways and dual carriageways, compared with the sections of two-lane National Road they will replace, has the potential to reduce road accident fatalities by over 50 persons annually with the planned completion of 900km of motorway and dual carriageway by 2007 under the National Development Plan.
In addition to constructing improved roads, the NRA, through the Road Safety and Research Section, have an extensive road safety agenda aimed at reducing the number of accidents occurring on the network of National Roads. Targets for accident reductions over the years 1998 to 2002 were set out in the Government's 'Road to Safety' strategy. A new strategy for the period 2003-2005 is currently being developed.
The primary objective of the 1998-2002 'Road to Safety' strategy was to reduce road accident fatalities by the year 2002 by 20% of their 1997 level (472) and to achieve a similar reduction (20%) in the number of serious injuries from road accidents (2,182 in 1997). This was achieved.
Under the terms of the strategy, the Road Safety Research Programme was required to undertake a number of specific tasks which would provide the necessary information and know-how to achieve this objective.
A High Level Group on Road Safety was set up to promote coordination between the different national agencies involved in road safety. The Group is chaired by the Department of Transport and has representation from the following organisations:
- Department of the Environment and Local Government
- Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform
- Department of Health and Children
- National Roads Authority
- An Garda Síochána (Irish Police)
- County and City Managers Assocation
- National Safety Council
- Medical Bureau for Road Safety
- Irish Insurance Federation.
The High Level Group has sought to establish shared priorities and cooperation between the road safety agencies and, at the Government's request, has worked on the preparation of the Government Strategy documents.
The National Development Plan 2000-2006: Strategy for National Roads, 4.9 Primary road transport objectives, fifth point:
'to help achieve the objectives of the Government's Road Safety Strategy in relation to the reduction in fatalities and serious injuries caused by road accidents.'
National Development Plan