A Government TD has questioned whether it is “time for the Road Safety Authority (RSA) to resign”.
Fine Gael TD Ciarán Cannon said in the Dáil during a statement on road safety that it may be time to give the authority legislative powers.
He said Ireland was experiencing “a litany of death and disability” on its streets and it was no longer acceptable to propose a “piecemeal response”.
The Galway East TD said Vision Zero, a strategy to eliminate all road deaths and serious injuries, was not “some pipe dream” and could and should be achieved.
“We really need to look at the Transportation Safety Board, its roles and responsibilities, the legislative powers available to it to do its job, and the resources available to it to do its job properly,” said he.
“I’m really wondering if it’s time to resign from the Road Safety Authority or perhaps to do this: give in [the RSA] The legislative powers give effect to it by creating a position of Road Safety Commissioner. That’s what we need here now.”
Mr Cannon added that the RSA, An Garda Síochána, two government departments, Transport Infrastructure Ireland, local authorities and “a variety of different bodies” all have road safety functions somewhere within their remit.
“It’s clearly not working because there is no overarching individual or office with the legislative authority and resources to bring all of these different strands together and make our roads safer for every single person who uses them,” he said.
“If the RSA is to transform into this [road safety commissioner] office, great; If it means completely abandoning the RSA and starting over, that’s just as great. Whatever it takes, it has to happen now.”
The RSA is a government agency established in 2006 by the then government to promote road safety.
Greens TD Brian Leddin said whether the RSA should resign was “a big question” for the Government and Oireachtas.
“I think the Road Safety Authority is on the wrong track in many ways when it comes to road safety,” he said. “It’s about looking at some things that are not effective and not taking into account other issues that it should.”
Mr Leddin said the RSA had put so much effort, energy and money into promoting high visibility, but questioned where its ambitions were in terms of enforcing red light bans or analyzing the trend in heavy and large vehicle sales.
People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny said pedestrians and cyclists were responsible for more than 30 per cent of all deaths on Irish roads – which was “unbelievable”.
“You have to look at that. Why is this happening? “Probably every case is different, but we need to reduce the number significantly because there are situations where people are just driving and they are hit by a car, seriously injured or sometimes killed,” he said. “We have to find a reason why this is happening. The fact is that the number is at its highest level in 15 years.”
Minister of State for Transport Jack Chambers said there had been an increase in accidents and serious road traffic incidents in three of the last four years.
He said this trend was expected to “intensify” this year and as of Thursday there had been 155 deaths on Irish roads this year.
“This will bring the total to the same level as the whole of last year, and we still have two months to go,” he said. “In the winter months the number of road deaths tends to be higher than at the beginning of the year.”