There has been a very worrying increase in the number of drivers killed on Irish roads in 2019 compared to 2018 – up 25 lost souls from 56 to 81 (or an increase of 45 per cent).
Provisional road collision statistics for 2019 show that overall deaths resulting from road traffic collisions have increased. A total of 148 people lost their lives on Ireland’s roads in 2019, as a result of 137 fatal crashes, compared to 142 lives lost in 2018 in 135 fatal crashes, a 4 per cent rise.
Overall, vulnerable road user deaths decline by 23 per cent with pedestrian deaths declining by 15 (or 36 per cent) and passenger deaths were down by 4 (-20 per cent), but 2019 has been over-shadowed by the 45 increase in driver deaths.
There was one more motorcyclist death recorded in 2019 compared to 2018 (16 versus 15) or an increase of 6.25 per cent.
The figures were published by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) on Tuesday 31 December 2019, following an analysis of provisional fatal collision reports by An Garda Síochána.
After 2018 having been recorded as the safest year on Irish roads, it is very disappointing that 2019 has ended with 25 more drivers dead on Irish roads and overall six more fatalities over the year previously.
What is going to be done about the increase in road deaths?
This is what those responsible for road safety here have to say about what is to be done to improve road safety and reduce fatalities in 2020.
Assistant Commissioner Dave Sheehan said: “Roads policing will remain a strategic priority for An Garda Síochána in 2020. Furthermore, two significant developments will happen to ensure that high levels of visible, effective road safety enforcement is achieved. Firstly, an additional 180 Gardaí have been selected to be assigned to roads policing duties in early 2020. Secondly, the roll out of the new mobility app will be stepped up so that by the end of 2020 there will be in excess of 4,000 devices in the hands of front line 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.”
Mr. Shane Ross, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport said: “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. This means the Government and its agencies continuing to implement life saving measures contained in the Road Safety Strategy. It also means individually, as ordinary road users, that we need to take greater responsibility for our actions when using the road. We 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.”
Ms. Liz O’Donnell, Chairperson, RSA, said: “We must respond to this increase the same way we have responded to previous setbacks. Rather than being disheartened it should spur us and our road safety partners into renewed effort. 2020 is also the final year of the Government’s eight year road safety strategy. 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 next year. Something we should all work together to do in 2020.”
Ms. Moyagh Murdock, CEO of the Road Safety Authority said: “For 2020 we will ensure that our education and awareness plans target the main killer behaviours and that this is integrated into the Garda roads policing plans. In particular we will prioritise the non- wearing of seatbelts and intoxicated driving through alcohol or drugs. We will also focus on promoting the safety of vulnerable road users. Specifically by raising awareness of the new safe overtaking of cyclists law, focusing on motorcycle safety and commissioning a new pedestrian safety campaign.
Another priority area for us in 2020 is learner drivers. We will continue to support Garda enforcement of unaccompanied driving laws. In 2019 there were over 2,500 vehicles seized that were being driven by unaccompanied learner drivers. We will continue to target those who have been relying long-term on a learner permit. Driving test waiting times have never been lower with average waiting times of less than six weeks.”