Gay Byrne says 80th 'a good time to bow out' of road safety role

Monday 16 June 2014 20.44
Gay Byrne has decided not to remain in his position for another two years
Gay Byrne has decided not to remain in his position for another two years

Chairman of the Road Safety Authority Gay Byrne has said he is retiring from the post because he believes his 80th birthday is a good time to bow out.

He said that after completing his five-year term as chairman, he had been asked to remain in his position by the minister for transport and he had done so for three years.

He was again asked to remain in the position for another two years but has decided not to do so.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Mr Byrne pointed out that the impression might have been given in newspaper reports that he was retiring because of the lack of action on the part of An Garda Síochána but this was not the case. 

He said the RSA is saddened by the diminished enforcement by An Garda Síochána because it lacks money, resources and equipment to do its job.

He added that 2012 was the best year in 50 years for road safety, but the downward trend in the number of road fatalities had stopped in 2013, and there had been another wake-up call this year. 

His fear is that if this continues the remarkable progress that has been made over the last eight years will be frittered away, he said.

Mr Byrne said the reduction in the number of road deaths will not continue unless an effort is made to make it continue. 

He said the Garda Traffic Corps had been reduced by a quarter and there is an increasing perception nationally that the likelihood of encountering garda traffic enforcement units is remote and this is leading drivers to become complacent and careless. 

Mr Byrne added that most road users drive well and observe the rules, but there is a hardcore who fail to get the message.

He also said the penalty points system is probably being handled in a much better way than it was two years ago, but a great deal more work needs to be done.