As injuries mount, Road Safety Authority hadn’t shared crash data with councils for eight years

Ireland’s Road Safety Authority has not shared crash location data with local councils and other transport bodies for eight years. After an increase in serious injuries and deaths, there now seems to be some movement on the issue, but it’s still unclear when the RSA will start to share the vital data again.

GDPR is being used as the reason why the RSA stopped sharing the data GDPR came into force across the European Union in May 2018, but the RSA seems to have only started to work on the issue with the Data Protection Commissioner in 2022.

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Cllr Janet Horner (Green Party) said: “It’s been eight years since the RSA stopped providing data; it’s been six years since GDPR has been enacted, and it took them almost five years to do anything about even contacting the Data Protection Commissioner to try to overcome whatever supposed data protection obstacle there is.”

“It’s outrageous — We have seen a steady increase in serious injuries, Covid aside, and an increase in deaths last year. That is a consequence of the RSA being completely asleep at the wheel in terms of trying to do something productive with road safety issues that is actually meaningful beyond running an awareness campaign here or there,” she said.

Cllr Horner said: “When people die on the roads, it makes the headlines. But when people are seriously injured, it doesn’t a lot of the time — that’s where data is really helpful because then we can see where the patterns are. We can see if there’s junctions where minor injuries constantly occur, and we know that the earliest predictor of serious injuries and, inturn, deaths.”

“We need to see where the patterns are happening so we can take intervention and stop it happening,” she said.

As this website reported yesterday, over 30 groups seeking safer roads have said that the RSA is “no longer fit for purpose”. The Department of Transport is currently consulting on the future of the Road Safety Authority (RSA). The public consultation is due to end this Friday, April 5th.

In their statement yesterday, the groups said: “Historic road collision data is not being made available to road safety auditors. Public reports are framed around the victim of road collisions and their mode of transport rather than the cause. The RSA is not providing up-to-date and comprehensive data that can be used to make our roads safer.”

Council officials in Dublin and elsewhere have complained at council meetings and to councillors that the data is not being made available to them.

Cllr Horner has been working on the issue; frustrated with the lack of progress, she submitted a Freedom of Information request to the RSA seeking information on the reasoning for not sharing the data, but the independent State body rejected the request saying that the release of documents would affect the deliberative process.

She said: “We have been asking them for years and years to explain what the data protection issue is with something that does not involve categories of sensitive personal data because it is anonymised locational data, and they have never been able to answer that beyond four letters — GDPR.”

In response to the request from the councillor, Velma Burns, research manager at the RSA said: “Access to correspondence or any records of contact between the Road Safety Authority and the Data Protection Commissioner is being refused as per Sections 29 (1) (a) and 29 (1) (b) of the FOI Act because this body of work, which began in late 2022, is still underway.”

The RSA said that a consultation, being led by the Department of Transport, with the Data Protection Commissioner is taking place, and the Road Safety Authority is also participating in this consultation

Burns’s response in February also said: “Three emails from the Data Protection Commissioner, as well as a presentation delivered by the Road Safety Authority during a meeting with the Data Protection Commissioner, have been identified as falling under the scope of your request. These documents fall under the deliberative process, and releasing such records would, in the opinion of the Road Safety Authority, be detrimental to the consultations currently taking place and, therefore, would be contrary to the public interest. At present, we do not have a date for completion of this body of work.”

Cllr Horner added: “I’m used to dealing with public bodies and long-drawn-out processes, but with the RSA, I’m actively angry about it. To say the only explanation you’ll offer people is GDPR when people are suffering life-altering injuries and dying and they have done nothing is an insult to people.” asked the RSA to explain what exactly stopped it from sharing data with councils, why it has taken so long to resolve the issue, and when it expects to start sharing the data again.

After three requests for comment over the last two weeks, the RSA responded this morning, but none of the questions were answered directly.

This morning a spokesperson for the RSA said: “The RSA is in the process of reviewing its road traffic collision (RTC) data sharing policies and procedures, in light of the fact that the data must be treated as personal data in order to comply with GDPR demands. Data sharing with local authorities has therefore been paused.”

“The RSA is actively engaged in a consultation with key stakeholders, including An Garda Siochana, the Department of Transport, the Data Protection Commissioner, and the Local Government Management Agency representing local authorities in relation to putting the appropriate measures in place to facilitate data sharing. This is complex work and will take some time to complete,” the spokesperson said.

“Record-level RTC data is not being published online until this review is complete. In the interim, a range of provisional aggregated reports are published online for your reference below.

The RSA said that it publishes fatality figures each month at in a monthly report, provisional fatality statistics for the years 2019-2024., and has published a number of reports, including a Provisional Review of Fatalities 1 January to 31 December 2023, a five-year trend analysis of fatalities and serious injuries, 2018-2022, the child casualties report 2014-2022, the cyclist spotlight report: fatalities and serious injuries, 2018-2022, and the pedestrian spotlight report: fatalities and serious injuries, 2018-2022. It also provides data for the CSO for the CSO Transport Bulletin.

However, none of these reports include detailed location data that used to be provided to councils.

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  1. Everyday it seems like the RSA makes less and less sense as a separate entity. Just combine it into the National Transport Authority who have the ability to actually improve roads and target accident blackspots.


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