Treacy Hogan in the irish Indo' writes - IRISH motorists are the unhappiest in Europe and do not feel safe on our roads.
An unpublished report obtained by the Irish Independent reveals that drivers are feeling increasingly worried while driving, both day and night.
They are fed up with dangerous road surfaces, according to the 'European Road User Survey 2006' report, which graphically shows how Government expenditure of billions of euro still has not provided a top-class, safer network.
There is stinging criticism for the hopelessly inadequate number of facilities at which to stop and recover from driving fatigue.
The report also found concerns about road surfaces, signs, rest places and general safety on the roads had actually worsened since a similar survey in 2004.
Hundreds of motorists in Ireland were interviewed on 11 key aspects of the road network, and the results were compared with those of other countries.
"The quality of the road surface is considered to be the main issue in Ireland," it says. "Compared with the surrounding countries and the European average, in Ireland relatively fewer drivers feel secure." It finds that:
* Almost half of all drivers here do not feel safe on the road, day or night.
* Most drivers are unhappy with road surface quality, in contrast with English and French counterparts.
* Drivers feel far less satisfied, particularly about the lack of rest places and the availability of 'variable message signs' (providing regular information updates) along major motorways.
* Despite the Government spending billions on roads, satisfaction actually fell over the past three years since a similar survey was carried out.
* Over half of Irish drivers (54pc) regularly experience delays, compared with France (38pc), England (45pc) and an average of just 40pc across Europe.
Other issues were better visibility of road signage, more regular replacement of road markings, more road lighting and better winter maintenance. The National Roads Authority (NRA) said yesterday its investment programme was addressing concerns in the survey.
Sean O'Neill, NRA spokesman, said: "With over €4bn of new roads already on the ground and an additional €1.5bn starting this year, we are confident we will be changing the road users' experience for the better."
The survey was conducted by the Dutch-based Trans European Road Network, representing national roads networks across the EU.
Meanwhile, work has begun on a 24km stretch of new motorway along one of the country's busiest and most dangerous routes.
Transport Minister Martin Cullen turned the first sod of Phase 2 of the Waterford-Dublin road project in South Kilkenny yesterday, due for completion in 2009.