Byrne Commended Over Road Figures

The Road Safety Chief Gay Byrne has been commended after new government statistic showing a reduction in road deaths.

The Labour Party's Spokesperson on Transport, Tommy Broughan, today commended the work by the Road Safety Authority, which is currently led by former Late Late Show host Gay Byrne.

Road deaths in Ireland fell again last year from 279 to 239, putting it in-line with the EU demand of a road death reduction of 50% before 2010.

However, despite the positive news, Mr Broughan raised the issue of high drug-driving levels which peaked at a 15 times increase in 2008.

Mr Broughan said: "The Road Safety Authority (RSA) led by Gay Byrne, Noel Brett and all their staff must be strongly commended for their outstanding work in significantly reducing road deaths in 2009. Yet 239 lives were still tragically lost last year.

"Minister Dempsey must now ensure that the RSA and the Medical Bureau of Road Safety are given all of the necessary technical and other resources to address the increasing menace of drug driving."

The findings from the Central Statistics Office have revealed that in the last quarter of 2004 there were just 16 recorded offences of driving a vehicle under the influence of drugs while in the last quarter of 2008 there were 238 recorded incidents of drug driving, 253 incidents in the first quarter of 2009, 218 incidents in quarter two of 2009 and 128 incidents in quarter three of last year.

The Labour spokesman added: "Due to the lack of a random roadside drug enforcement and testing regime, these figures probably represent only a fraction of drug drivers.

"For example a 2008 investigation by the insurance company Hibernian found that more than 20% of drivers under the age of 35 had driven while under the influence of drugs."

In the North, a total of 115 people died on the roads in 2009, according to provisional figures released this week. This is eight people more than in 2008.

See: Deadly Year On NI Roads Outlined


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