The Irish Government has launched the country’s fifth Road Safety Strategy 2021-2030.
The primary aim of the new strategy is to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries on Irish roads by 50% over the next 10 years. This means reducing deaths on Ireland’s roads annually from 144 to 72 or lower and reducing serious injuries from 1,259 to 630 or lower by 2030.
The Road Safety Strategy 2021-2030 will be delivered in three phases. Phase 1 which runs from 2021 to 2024 is backed by a projected €3.8bn investment and includes 50 high-impact actions and 136 support actions.
The strategy is the first step in achieving the 2020 Programme for Government commitment of bringing Ireland to ‘Vision Zero’. This is to eliminate all road deaths and serious injuries on Irish roads by the year 2050. The Road Safety Strategy 2021-2030 builds on the progress made during the last road safety strategy which saw Ireland achieve the lowest number of annual road deaths since records began and the second lowest rate of road deaths in the EU in 2019.
Speaking at the launch of the strategy, Minister for State in the Department of Transport, Hildegarde Naughton, T.D. , said, “At the heart of this Road Safety Strategy is change. How we use our roads is changing. So how we understand and think about road safety needs to change. We must adjust our attitudes and behaviours to take account of the fact that no one form of transport takes primacy over another. Each and every road user is entitled to use our roads and not have their safety or life put at risk due to others’ dangerous behaviour. This Road Safety Strategy sets out the steps we need to take to reduce deaths and serious injuries by half over the next decade and provides the metrics that will measure our progress. However, the core of the strategy is not about words or numbers on a page, but about saving lives and preventing injuries. It is about people. This strategy is for all those who use our roads, and who have the right to do so safely.”
Commenting on the strategy, Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan, T.D. , said, “This strategy will be the first stage on our journey to achieving Vision Zero, that is no road deaths or serious injuries by 2050. It is ambitious. That is why we have set a target of reducing the number of deaths and serious injuries by half by 2030. This strategy prioritises the safety of those who are most vulnerable, ensuring their right to travel the roads safely is protected. It also recognises that road safety policy does not exist in a vacuum; it must reflect wider societal change and social needs. Concerns about climate change and the need to change our behaviour are being reflected in increased growth in active travel across Ireland. We need to encourage more people to use sustainable forms of transport, e.g., cycling, walking and using public transport, and this must be supported in our strategic thinking around road safety.”
RSA Chairperson, Liz O’Donnell , said, “Ireland has made significant progress over the lifetime of previous road safety strategies. Since the launch of the first ever Road Safety Strategy in 1998, road deaths have declined by almost 70%. Reducing road deaths and serious injuries by 50% over the next decade is achievable. Vision Zero by 2050 is achievable. We can do it. Given our road safety journey to date, no target is too ambitious for us. Every day, every weekend, every week without a road death or serious injury in your community is Vision Zero in action. The starting point is recognising that road deaths or serious injuries should not be the price to pay for our mobility.”
RSA Chief Executive, Sam Waide , added, “The new government Road Safety Strategy has been developed in line with international best practice, and in collaboration with government departments and agencies, including stakeholders involved in the delivery of road safety actions and those who have an interest in the area. The public have had their say too. We carried out a public consultation process in the development of this strategy and received over 2,000 submissions. We can truly say that the public have shaped how we will be addressing road safety over the next decade. But we will need every road user and delivery partners to play their part in achieving our target of reducing road deaths and serious injuries by 50% by 2030. This Road Safety Strategy commits to reducing road trauma through focused, measurable actions, deeper existing partnerships, new partnerships & collaboration, transformation and stronger governance. We are determined to deliver on these goals.”
The 2021-2030 government Road Safety Strategy will feature three phases:
Phase 1 Action Plan: 2021 – 2024 ,
Phase 2 Action Plan: 2025-2027 and
Phase 3 Action Plan: 2028-2030.
The Phase 1 Action Plan (2021-2024) which has been published alongside the ten-year strategy document, includes 50 high-impact actions – those that will have a direct impact on the reduction of deaths and serious injuries on Irish roads. Some high-impact actions include:
• Establish a working group to examine and review the framework for the setting of speed limits. As part of this review there will be a specific consideration of the introduction of a 30km/h default speed limit in urban areas.
• Expand speed management measures on National, Regional and Local roads using Periodic Speed Limits at schools, Vehicle Activated Signs and Average Speed Cameras in collaboration with An Garda Síochána at appropriate high-risk locations.
• Review the operation of the mobile safety camera system to maximise its effectiveness in detecting road traffic offences
• Explore the potential of an online portal for road users to upload footage of road traffic offences which could assist in prosecution.
• Review the penalties for serious road traffic offences including the following: impaired driving, speeding, mobile phone use, non-wearing of seat belts, carrying unrestrained children in a vehicle.
• Legislate for increased sanctions for polydrug and drug and alcohol use while driving.
• Over the period 2021 to 2025, 1,000km of segregated walking and cycling facilities will be constructed or under construction on the national, local, and regional road network, to provide safe cycling and walking arrangements for users of all ages.
• Develop and implement a safety rating indicator for national road infrastructure, which will help target investment on sections of national roads with the highest risk of fatal or serious injury.
• Eliminate the incidence of unaccompanied learner permit drivers. Reduce the number of learner car drivers who hold a third or subsequent learner permit from 24.6% to a maximum of 10% by 2024. Legislate to introduce measures to promote taking of the driving test by multiple learner permit holders and consider introducing mandatory driver training for this.
• Prioritise lifesaving technologies associated with General Safety Regulation (GSR) including Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) on cars and direct vision for commercial vehicles.
• Conduct a review of road traffic policy and legislation to prioritise the safety of walking and cycling.
To monitor performance during the first phase of the strategy a number of interim targets have been set to support the overall objective of reducing road deaths and serious injuries by 50% by 2030.
• By 2024, we will reduce deaths on Ireland’s roads by 15% from 144 to 122 or lower.
• By 2024, we will reduce serious injuries on Ireland’s roads by 10% from 1,259 to 1,133 or lower.
The strategy is led by a Safe System approach, which is viewed as best practice globally in the delivery of road safety strategies. The Safe System approach emphasises the shared responsibility amongst those who design, build, manage and use the roads and vehicles to prevent or reduce collision impacts, and those who provide post-crash response to mitigate injury. Ireland’s road safety strategy for the next 10 years will be delivered with a heightened focus on the provision of infrastructure and vehicle safety enhancements, improved road user behaviours and enforcement, and post-crash response.
The action plan for Phase 1 (2021 – 2024) and the Straitéis na hÉireann maidir le Sábháilteacht ar Bhóithre 2021–2030 can be found on the Road Safety Authority website.