As political pressure mounts, RSA says traffic crash data to be shared again “later this year”

Road traffic collision data is to be shared again “later this year”, the Road Safety Authority has said after a series of political calls for action on the issue.

At the start of April, was the first to report that the Road Safety Authority has not shared crash data with councils for eight years. This was followed by the airing of an RTE Prime Time item on road safety, which included the data issue.

The lack of data sharing and publishing has come into the limelight as road deaths increased last year, and the number of deaths is now on track for a significant increase again this year.

The issue has been raised several times since, including last week in the Dail during the debate about road safety, and since then by Sinn Féin and Labour politicians.

On Friday, Sinn Féin Senator Lynn Boylan also called on the Minister for Transport to direct the RSA to publish the data and highlighted how the issue affects not just councils but also independent road safety researchers.

“I am concerned by the Minister for Transport’s response to my question on the need for the Road Safety Authority to release data about road safety incidents to researchers. It is unacceptable that the RSA has not released incident-level data for years, preventing researchers from accessing key information needed to improve road safety and save lives,” she said.

She said that the current practice of providing only aggregated data is of “very little use to researchers who need detailed information about specific roads”.

Senator Lynn Boylan added: “The RSA used to share data on an online map until 2016, but has since used GDPR as an excuse for not releasing the data. GDPR requirements are not a valid excuse. Other EU countries are releasing this information in a timely manner, proving that GDPR compliance is not a barrier.”

Labour transport spokesperson Duncan Smith said on Monday that he was calling on the Transport Minister to publish accurate monthly data on road safety and that the “GDPR excuse well out of date”.

Deputy Smith said: “The European Commission has urged all Member States to formally report on serious injuries on the roads, and it’s something the Labour Party has called on Government to do for some time.”

A spokesperson for the RSA said: “Following this, legal advice highlighted concerns about GDPR compliance regarding data that was being shared with stakeholders, including the Department of Justice, An Garda Siochana, local authorities, the Department of Transport, Local Government Management Agency and Roads Management Office.”

“The RSA was advised that it should treat the pseudo-anonymised collision dataset as being personal data and, therefore, that GDPR principles should apply,” the spokesperson said.

The RSA said that a cross-Government group is being RSA to “resolve the issue of data sharing as a priority, and extensive work is ongoing in this area”. This work has included workshops between the RSA and An Garda Síochána, to “establish the proportionality and justification for sharing specific elements of the collision data.”

“In addition, a number of bilateral meetings have taken place between the RSA and representatives from local authorities, DoT and other Road Safety Strategy stakeholder organisations, to progress onward sharing by the RSA of road traffic collision data,” the RSA said.

The RSA said that based on this, “a consultation pack is being developed for submission to the Data Protection Commissioner in Q2 2024, which is being led by the Department of Transport (supported by the RSA).”

The spokesperson also said that the Department of Transport is examining the possibility of An Garda Síochána sharing what it called a “subset of more limited collision data” directly with local authorities. The Department is to engage with the Data Protection Commissioner directly on this.

The RSA spokesperson added: “Between the two ongoing workstreams noted above, it is hoped that the sharing of collision data with local authorities will be able to resume later this year.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Transport said last night: “The provision of up-to-date collision data to roads authorities is of the utmost importance, and a range of individuals and organisations are working to unlock the issues related to GDPR.”

“While important, engineering measures are only a part of the solution for road safety and other measures such as speed, enforcement, education all play a significant part. It is also important to be clear that safety analysis and funding of safety schemes is ongoing while the data sharing issue is being resolved,” the spokesperson said.

The Department’s spokesperson said that for national roads, Transport Infrastructure Ireland continues to have “full access to collision data under the Road Safety Infrastructure Directive and uses this information to conduct detailed analysis on the national road network to prioritise safety investment.”

The spokesperson said that for on regional and local roads, “detailed collision analysis” continues at local authorities level using “more limited data sets”. This was provided by the RSA last in September and more current data is expected shortly.

The Department said that “locations of interest” are also notified to each local authority, and the Department “invites applications from local authorities for low-cost safety schemes”. It said that “This ensures targeted investment for road safety to areas of the network where it is needed most.”

It said that 55 locations of interest safety schemes were applied for and funded for delivery in 2023, and for 2024, 60 locations of interest safety schemes were applied for and are now being implemented. This funding is also open to locations where there’s issues based on “local knowledge and engineering expertise”.

Between 2022 and this year, the allocation for this funding has been €31.2m, while there is also a fund for “larger specific safety schemes up to €5m each”.

The Department’s spokesperson added: “Furthermore, following a road fatality, local authority engineers and An Garda Siochana meet at the incident location to complete an analysis of the incident. If there are elements of the network that require attention either as a result of the incident or prior to the incident, they are addressed immediately.”


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