To ask the Minister for Transport his views on the recent EuroRap report on the state of Ireland's roads; his further views on whether poor road conditions are a contributory factor to the deaths of many persons in car accidents; the efforts he will make to improve the particular stretches of road that have been highlighted in this report; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Liz McManus. (Nominated by: Róisín Shortall).
For ORAL answer on Thursday, 12th May, 2005.
Ref No: 15580/05
Answered by the Minister for Transport (Martin Cullen)
The aim of EuroRAP is to improve road safety by assessing risks and identifying shortcomings on national road networks across Europe that can be addressed with practical road improvement measures. This is a commendable goal and I therefore welcome the publication of their recent report on the state of Irelands major national roads. I note that the NRA made a very substantial contribution to the preparation of this report.
The EuroRAP report found that the safety performance of the Irish major road network is broadly the same as other countries that they have studied i.e. the Netherlands, Britain and Sweden. The average fatal collision rate on Irelands motorways shows that they are about as safe as those in Britain. The British rate is only slightly higher than in Sweden and the Netherlands, but all are lower than the rate in Spain. In general the safest types of roads are typically motorways but, because there are currently relatively fewer miles of motorway in Ireland than other countries, there are fewer sections of the safest category (low risk) road in Ireland than in the other countries studied. However, this will change with the substantial investment we are making in improving our national road network over the next few years- over €8 billion will be spent on the network over the period 2005-2009. I expect there to be a very significant road safety dividend associated with this increased investment. Furthermore, the NRA is already working on addressing many of the specific deficiencies identified by the EuroRAP report. This year alone almost €54 million will be spent by the NRA on road maintenance and €40 million will be spent on a range of road safety measures. However, I must emphasise that behavioural issues and not road conditions continue to be the single biggest contributory factor to road collisions. Analysis of factors contributing to fatal and injury accidents in 2002 indicate that driver behaviour (86%) and pedestrian behaviour (9.7%) are the key contributory factors, whereas road factors were identified as contributory factors in only 2.5% of fatal and serious accident collisions.