An AA poll of over 20,300 Irish motorists shows that almost 72% said they believed that the presence of Gardaí on the roads is less this year than it was last year. Only 8.5% said they disagreed. With so many believing that there are fewer Gardaí on the roads it is not surprising that the same poll showed that almost 40% don’t think the Government is treating road safety as a priority.
“Perception is every bit as important as reality when it comes to road traffic policing,” said Director of Consumer Affairs Conor Faughnan. “Ireland has been a road safety success story recently but it is essential to keep up the momentum. Road deaths reached a record low last year which we all welcomed but 2013 has shown a worrying slip in those standards. Prominent, visible policing is critical.”
The AA believes that the Garda remain committed to the task. The progress that has been made in recent years would not have been possible without their dedication. Efforts like Operation Slow Down over the Bank Holiday weekend are very welcome.
The AA is calling on the government to make sure that the adequate resources are provided to the Garda to ensure that road safety strategy is not allowed to drift down the priority list.
“We know from our dealings with AA Members that people want to see Gardaí out and about on our roads,” said Faughnan. “The Garda know that first hand themselves. We have also proved in recent years that prominent traffic policing saves lives. Even with public finances so challenged we cannot allow road safety to fall backwards in 2013. The human cost is just too high.”
There were 162 deaths on Irish roads last year, the lowest number since records began but still a number that is far too high. Regrettably, 2013 began badly and deaths are up by 18% so far.
Another area of worry for Irish motorists is the condition of Irish roads. A staggering 82.5% of those polled believe that the condition of Irish roads has worsened since last year. This is unsurprising given the substantially reduced spend on road maintenance in the last few years.
“The roads, especially secondary roads, took a lot of damage in the exceptional freeze events of 2010.” Says Faughnan. “Not enough was done to rectify that afterwards and since then we have endured chronic under-funding of road maintenance. This is why the AA gets complaints and attends car breakdowns caused by potholes and dangerous road surfaces on a daily basis.”
“Roads are not like fine wine,” said Faughnan. “They do not improve with age. If you do not keep them properly the damage gets worse and the ultimate repair cost escalates. This is what is happening now, as every motorist who has hit a pothole in recent months could tell you.”