Road deaths in Ireland are “out of control”, Shane Ross has claimed.
Yesterday, RSA figures have revealed there were 100 deaths on Irish roads in the first seven months of the year - 11 more than there were in the same period in 2022.
On current trends, 168 people will die on Irish roads in 2023 - compared to 155 last year.
Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, former Transport Minister Shane Ross said he was “very concerned” by the numbers.
“The figures show that the trend in Ireland is rising in terms of road deaths and it’s pretty well out of control,” he said.
“I think it shows that the Government strategy, which was introduced in 2021, is just in bits.
“The Government strategy was to reduce deaths on the road by 50% over 10 years to 2030.
“It had Vision Zero by 2050 - now it’s going in exactly the opposite direction.
“They wanted to reduce it from 2024 from 144 to 122, it looks as though on these figures we’re going to hit about 168 this year, the RSA is saying.”
Mr Ross described a lack of Garda enforcement of the rules as “one of the issues” but said the leading cause of fatalities was speeding.
In the Programme for Government, the coalition pledged to “review and reduce speed limits, where appropriate” - a promise Mr Ross said has been thwarted by backbench opposition.
“There is a tradition - and I came across it in Government when I was fighting drink driving and drug driving - that [people should be free] to drive their cars without, what they regard as, ‘excessive nanny statism,’” he said.
“There are certain groups in the backbenches who lobby very hard, supported by… other groups, to ensure that speed limits do not restrict their movement and drink driving is not policed too strictly.
“That, I think, is the problem and that got through to the Government.”
Mr Ross described speeding as “almost socially acceptable” and said it was “something that has got to absolutely be stamped on”.
Last year, the Government doubled the fines for 16 road traffic offences - including speeding.
Then-Minister of State for Transport Hildegarde Naughton said at the time she hoped it would reduce the number of fatalities on the roads.
"This by itself is not going to help to reduce fatalities and serious injuries on our roads,” she said.
"Obviously there's an enforcement piece, there's a public awareness campaign, and that's why I chair a high-level ministerial group.”
The Department of Transport has been contacted for comment.
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Main image: Shane Ross. Picture by: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie