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45% increase in number of driver deaths on Irish roads in 2019

A total of 148 people died on Irish roads last year, according to provisional figures.

Image: RSA

THERE WAS A 4% increase in the number of people who died on Irish roads in 2019 and a 45% increase in driver deaths, according to provisional figures.

A total of 148 people died on Irish roads in 2019 – compared to 142 in 2018 – a 4% rise. 2018 was the safest recorded year on Irish roads.

Up to 1pm on New Year’s Eve, 148 people had died as a result of 137 fatal crashes, compared to 142 deaths in 135 fatal crashes the previous year.

The figures were published by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) following an analysis of provisional fatal collision reports by An Garda Síochána.

Casualty figures for 2019 show that there has been an increase in the number of drivers killed, up 25 or 45%, compared to 2018. There has been a decrease in pedestrian deaths, down 15 or 36%, and passenger deaths, down four or 20%.

While there was one more motorcyclist death recorded in 2019 compared to 2018 (16 versus 15), an overall analysis of ‘vulnerable road user’ casualties shows that there was a 23% reduction in such fatalities.

road deaths Source: RSA

Dublin and Cork had the highest number of fatalities for all road users – 19 and 16 respectively. Sunday (32) was the most dangerous day of the week in terms of road deaths in 2019, followed by Thursday (25) and Friday (26).

Over half of fatalities in 2019 occurred on a Thursday, Friday or Sunday (56%). Eight in 10 (81%) of fatalities that occurred on Fridays were between 6am and 6pm.

One-third (34%) of fatalities that occurred on Sundays were between 7pm and 11pm while 28% were between midnight and 6am; 68% of fatalities that occurred on Thursdays were between 9am and 7pm.

Assistant Garda Commissioner Dave Sheehan said that “two significant developments will happen” in 2020 to “ensure that high levels of visible, effective road safety enforcement is achieved”.

An additional 180 gardaí have been selected to be assigned to roads policing duties early this year. Secondly, the roll-out of a new mobility app will be stepped up so that by the end of 2020 there will be over 4,000 devices in the hands of frontline gardaí.

“The new mobility app will revolutionise the way roads policing is carried out in this country. Both additional front line Garda resources and the greater enforcement capability of the mobility app will increase enforcement activity and help in reversing this year’s increase and achieving the road safety target,” Sheehan said.

‘Deeply saddening’ 

Liz O’Donnell, Chairperson of the RSA, stated that “after recording the safest year on our roads in 2018, it is deeply saddening that not only have we lost 148 lives on the road in 2019, but that it represents an increase in road deaths”.

“Rather than being disheartened it should spur us and our road safety partners into renewed effort,” O’Donnell said.

She noted that 2020 is also the final year of the government’s eight-year road safety strategy, adding that its primary target is to reduce deaths to 124 or fewer by the end of 2020.

“Deeper collaboration between all agencies responsible for road safety is already taking place to ensure everything that can be done is being done, not only to reverse the increase in deaths this year, but to achieve the strategy target.

“And it is a target that is very achievable, put simply it means saving two more lives a month, every month,” O’Donnell said.

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Commenting on the figures, Transport Minister Shane Ross expressed his “deepest condolences” to the families who died on Irish roads in 2019, as well as “the many hundreds who have suffered serious injury”.

“The only way to respond to these needless deaths and injuries on our roads is through action not words. While families and friends grieve the loss of their loved one, we must as a society all respond with deeds, to prevent it happening to others,” Ross said.

He added that as well as government action, individual road users “need to take greater responsibility for our actions when using the road”.

Ross said people can do this “by slowing down, not driving while impaired through drink, drugs or fatigue, by not driving while using a phone, by wearing a seatbelt and always sharing the road more carefully with pedestrians and cyclists”.

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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