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Home > Dail Eireann debate. Road Traffic Bill 2016 [Seanad]: Second Stage.

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Road Traffic Bill 2016 [Seanad]: Second Stage. (27 Sep 2016)

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Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."


As Minister, it is a pleasure to be able to bring before the House the Road Traffic Bill 2016. There has been much talk over this year about new politics and new and more co-operative ways of doing Dáil business. Road traffic legislation is an area which can point the way. This has always been a remarkably non-partisan aspect of legislation, which attracts constructive engagement from all sides. I will be happy to consider all sensible amendments proposed.


We all agree on the fundamental reason for road traffic legislation, which is the safety of road users. This is paramount to the public and to all of us. We may at times have disagreements about the best ways to promote road safety but they are reasonable and practical disagreements about what will work best and they generally give rise to very constructive discussions. This is an area of policy happily free from ideology. There are ideas which work and ideas which do not work and the history of the House when it comes to debating road traffic legislation shows that we are all interested in arriving at better laws which work better and which, ultimately, make us all safer. The fact the Bill was the subject of detailed pre-legislative scrutiny and was changed quite substantially as a result is a testament to the kind of non-partisan approach which has always attended the discussion of road safety matters. The subsequent passage of the Bill by the Seanad was facilitated by constructive engagement from all sides.


If we look back 20 or so years, we can see there has been a remarkable improvement in safety on our roads. Although the number of vehicles has increased greatly, the trend in deaths on the roads has overall been downward. In 1997, deaths on our roads peaked at the astonishingly high figure of 472. After 1997, a steady trend brought deaths down to the historic low of 162 in 2012. It is a source of concern that the numbers then went up to 188 in 2013 and 194 in 2014. Last year, 2015, which was the joint safest year on record, saw a reduction in fatalities to 162, just 35% of the peak in 1997. While this is welcome, we should not forget that behind each and every one of these fatalities is a grieving family, friends and community.

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