Assistant Garda Commissioner Gerard Phillips has defended the garda road safety effort after calls for a greater garda presence on the roads.

He was speaking at the launch of a new road safety initiative for tourists, aimed at bringing down the number of accidents involving visitors to Ireland.

Since 2009, 56 visitors have been killed or seriously injured on Irish roads.

Assistant Commissioner Phillips said that while the overall number of gardaí is down, the number in the traffic corps remains the same.

He said there are always people who will take a risk and it is the job of the gardaí to catch them.

Road Safety Authority Chief Executive Noel Brett has said that it is concerning and disappointing that the number of people being killed on Irish roads is increasing.

He also said he was concerned that there was a perception that gardaí were not out enforcing traffic laws.

He said the only way to bring down road deaths is through education and enforcement.

The Director of Consumer Affairs with AA Roadwatch said that gardaí should increase their presence on the roads.

Speaking to RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Conor Faughnan said that gardaí need to become more visible in order to deter bad driver behaviour.

He also criticised the Government for allowing roads to deteriorate through under-investment.

He was speaking after an AA survey of over 20,000 drivers found that nearly 75% of drivers believe that there are fewer gardaí on the roads.

The Garda Traffic Bureau yesterday denied that the number of gardaí working on the roads had decreased.

However, Mr Faughnan said that while numbers may not have decreased, gardaí still have to make themselves more visible.

Mr Faughnan said gardaí should set up more speed checks at busy commuter times, while he also expressed concern at the increase of automated speed checks.

The AA's survey also found that over 80% of drivers believed that roads were deteriorating.

Mr Faughnan said that roads had been severely damaged since the cold weather of 2010 and that the cost of fixing them in the long term will increase if under-investment continues.

Minister of State Alan Kelly rejected the suggestion that gardaí are less visible on the roads.

He said he believed that gardaí had a very large presence on the roads over the Bank Holiday weekend.

Speaking on the same programme, he said: "I saw that report this morning and it's obviously something we have to try and digest.

"For anyone who was travelling around the country at the weekend, you would have seen a very large garda presence as regards checkpoints over the weekend."

Mr Kelly said it was upsetting that 14 more people have died on Irish roads than at the same stage last year.

He said: "Last year was a record low; 162 unfortunately lost their lives and this year we are hoping to decrease again because it would be the ninth year in a row there would be a decrease."