THE NUMBER of people who died on Ireland’s roads in 2012 is the lowest since records began, according to provisional figures published this morning.
Figures compiled by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) show that a total of 161 people were killed on Irish roads in 2012 – 25 fewer than in 2011, and down by 51 from 2010.
The figures mark the sixth year in succession that the number of road deaths has fallen – and the fifth year in succession that road fatalities have reached a record low.
The 2011 figures also mean the RSA exceeded its 2012 target for reducing road fatalities to 252, a target set in 2007, by 36 per cent. The overall number of road deaths has fallen by 56 per cent in the last five years.
The largest drop for 2012 came in the deaths of pedestrians, which fell to 28 from 47 the previous year. The number of driver fatalities was down one, to 78, while passenger deaths fell to 27, a reduction of six.
Eight cyclists were killed in 2012, down from nine in the previous year; the number of motorcyclist fatalities rose by one to 19.
The figures also include one death which falls outside these categories – three-month-old Grace Gilmore, who was being carried by her father at the time of an accident in Tuam, Co Galway, in October.
‘Something of which you should all be very proud’
Transport minister Leo Varadkar said the reduction in deaths “really comes down to the efforts of every single road user”.
“We can never forget those who lost their lives on the roads in 2012, but next year we can take it a step further,” the minister said, calling on all motorists to “change one thing about their behaviour on the roads next year. It will make a difference.”
RSA chairman Gay Byrne thanked the road-using public for the changes in their behaviour that had more than halved Ireland’s rate of road deaths.
“While one death is one too many, this is an extraordinary achievement and something of which you should all be very proud,” the veteran broadcaster commented.
“The challenge now is to build on this success. We have three more lives a week to save.”
Garda commissioner Martin Callinan, welcoming the figures, commented that the number of drink-driving arrests had fallen in 2012 for the fifth year in a row – while the number of mandatory alcohol checkpoints had increased.
“This clearly shows increased compliance by responsible members of the public,” he said.