Dáil Éireann - Volume 466 - 13 June, 1996

Written Answers. - Road Fatalities.

39. Mr. Collins asked the Minister for the Environment if he has received reports on the reason for the increase in road fatalities in 1995; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1907/96]

45. Mr. Power asked the Minister for the Environment when he received the report on the increased number of road fatalities in 1995; the consequent action he has taken; and the further actions, if any, he proposes to take. [9095/96]

82. Mr. Callely asked the Minister for the Environment if his attention has been drawn to road accident statistics which show the accident rate for motor cyclists is far greater than the rate for cars drivers; the consideration, if any, he has given to these statistics; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6549/96]

94. Mr. Callely asked the Minister for the Environment the number of deaths arising out of road accidents in 1995; the number of road deaths to date in 1996; the additional measures, if any, he intends to introduce to help prevent such accidents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12382/96]

[2205] Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Ms McManus): I propose to take Questions Nos. 39, 45, 82 and 94 together.

Monthly returns relating to road accidents are received from the Garda some weeks after the end of each month. These returns show that 437 people died, and 12,673 were injured, in road accidents in 1995.

The figure for reported injuries shows a major increase in both the corresponding returns for 1994 and the provisional returns supplied by the Garda for 1995 which have been previously quoted. This is primarily a result of an increase in the reporting level of injury accidents brought about by a rationalisation of the road accident reporting system. The National Roads Authority has advised, in the context of the preparation of its report Road Accident Facts 1995, that when the data relating to injury accidents is adjusted to take account the increased reporting level, only a small increase in injury accident occurrence was revealed. That report will be published later this year.

The increase in road casualties in 1995 is a matter of great concern, especially as the increase did not reflect the trend over the previous few years. An analysis of fatal accidents carried out at my request by the National Roads Authority in relation to the last six months of 1995 suggests that excessive speed and drink were major contributory factors, that a significant number of young road users were killed, and that motorcyclists and pedestrians accounted for a disproportionately high percentage of deaths.

Provisional returns for 1996 indicate that the number of road deaths to the end of May total 158. This compares with a total of 139 for the same period in 1995.

Following a full assessment of road safety policy, a new national road safety campaign was launched last month with an emphasis on ensuring that all of the agencies involved — my Department, the Department of Justice and the Garda; the National Roads Authority; [2206] the National Safety Council; and the local authorities — work together with the road user to increase the effectiveness of their enforcement, education, engineering and encouragement measures. Measures to be implemented in the coming months, all aimed at improving the level of safety on our roads, include the introduction of on-the-spot fines for speeding offences; a new approach to road safety engineering; new TV and radio advertising campaigns; and a theory test for the new applicants for driver licences.