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Number of people killed on Irish roads dropped by 12% in first half of 2021

Garda figures showed 82% of deaths occurred on rural roads with a speed limit of 80kmh or higher.

Image: Joe Boland/PA Images

THE NUMBER OF people killed on Irish roads has dropped in the past six months, compared with the same period of 2020, new figures show.

From January 1 to July 15, 2021, 65 people died in 60 collisions.

This represents 12% fewer collisions and 12% fewer deaths compared to provisional Garda data for the same period last year.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) and An Garda Síochána report for 2021 shows a significant majority of fatalities happened outside of urban areas, with 82% of deaths occurring on rural roads with a speed limit of 80km or higher.

The review also found that 406 people were seriously injured in collisions in the first half of 2021, with pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists accounting for almost half of all serious injuries recorded.

The time between noon and 4pm was the riskiest on Irish roads, accounting for 31% of fatalities to date this year.

There were 59% fewer road fatalities between midnight and 8am compared to the same period in 2020, the report found.

The number of fatalities occurring at the weekend also decreased by a quarter compared with last year.

Despite the drop in road deaths recorded, Ireland has slipped from the second safest country in the EU to the fifth.

While road deaths fell in most European countries due to the impact of the pandemic last year, the overall figure increased in Ireland.

Chief executive of the RSA Sam Waide said that while road deaths are down this year, it should be viewed against an increase in deaths in 2020.

“Our own research is telling us that one factor behind this is a deterioration in road user behaviour,” he said. 

“The Driver Attitudes and Behaviour Survey, which we conducted late last year, revealed more drivers admitting to speeding in 50km and 100km speed zones.”

The survey also showed an increase in motorists texting while driving and driving while fatigued. 

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“This research confirms what our colleagues in An Garda Síochína are seeing in reality on the roads, with many drivers taking unnecessary risks,” Waide added. 

More drivers and motorcyclists have been killed on the road in 2021, so I’m asking everyone who gets behind the wheel to slow down and stay focused, especially as traffic volumes increase and return to normal levels in the coming months.

Last year, Gardaí issued 181,263 Fixed Charge Notices to drivers for speeding. Early indications show that this number is set to rise this year.

Chief Superintendent of the Garda National Roads Policing Bureau Mick Hennebry said that despite speed being a factor in one third of fatal collisions in Ireland, Gardaí continue to see a minority of motorists drive at speeds in excess of the legal limit. 

“We want everyone to enjoy this Bank Holiday weekend so are asking people to consider the safety of all road users and support An Garda Síochána in our efforts to keep all people safe, particularly as we focus on speeding and other life-saver offences this holiday weekend,” he said.

“If you are heading on staycation this weekend, please leave yourself plenty of time to get to your destination.

“Take breaks and if you feel tired, pull over. Make sure that caravans and other loads are properly secured before you start your journey.

“Finally, we would appeal to motorists visiting tourist spots and beaches to park legally and be mindful of emergency vehicles requiring access to such areas.”

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