Number of road deaths appears to be rising, warns Garda

Seven more people die on State roads than in same period last year

Gardaí today warned motorists who break crucial rules on speeding, seat belt use and alcohol they “have to be lucky all the time”, adding that the force was “out there as much as ever”. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

Gardaí today warned motorists who break crucial rules on speeding, seat belt use and alcohol they “have to be lucky all the time”, adding that the force was “out there as much as ever”. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

Mon, Aug 12, 2013, 21:12

The number of deaths on Irish roads appears to be on the rise, the Garda has warned.

Statistics revealed that up to 9am this morning, 118 people had lost their lives on the State’s roads since the start of the year. The number was seven ahead of the same period last year - a year which saw the seventh successive annual reduction in road fatalities, from almost 400 in 2005 to a record low of 162 last year.

Gardaí today warned motorists who break crucial rules on speeding, seat belt use and alcohol they “have to be lucky all the time”, adding that the force was “out there as much as ever”.

Responding to concern that there appeared to be a perception that enforcement was now declining due to cuts in staff numbers and budgets, the Garda said a reduction in numbers of officers in the Road Traffic Bureau from 1,200 to just 800 in recent years had not been matched by a corresponding rise in road deaths.

According to the Garda, the most common issue across fatal crashes is still speeding.

Chief Supt Michael O’Sullivan of the Garda National Traffic Bureau said the perception was that alcohol was a factor in most road deaths.

However, he said members of the force - who were frequently “first on the scene to literally pick up the pieces after a crash” - could testify that the most common denominator was speed.

He said 13 per cent of those killed last year were not wearing a seat belt. In addition, some 17 of those killed so far this year were motorcyclists, road users who sometimes are not seen by drivers of other vehicles.

While there appears to be a slight reduction in the number of mandatory alcohol checkpoints, which had been rising annually to almost 72,000 in 2012, Mr O’Sullivan said those who thought they could avoid detection on an ongoing basis were seriously mistaken.

He said every member of the force, not just the traffic bureau, was there to detect vehicular offences, and vowed that as a force, “We are out there as much as ever.

“Errant motorists have to be lucky all the time - and the balance of probability clearly is that you will be caught.”

Statistics released by the Garda also show:

*Gardaí carried out a total of almost 250,000 breath tests at some 50,000 mandatory alcohol checkpoints between January and July this year, revealing 4,542 incidents of people driving while intoxicated.

* In the first six months of the year there were 95,820 fixed charge penalty point notices issued for speeding, 5,974 for non-use of seat belts, and 12,898 for driving while using a mobile phone.

*Up until 9am this morning, 277 people have been seriously injured, compared to 312 in the same period last year, a reduction of 35 serious injuries.

* July was the worst month for road deaths so far this year, with 18 people killed. In 2012 the worst month was June, when 25 people lost their lives.

* Friday afternoons and evenings have been the worst time for fatal collisions so far in 2013.

* Drivers account for the majority of those killed this year - 61 people, or 52 per cent. Young drivers aged 21 to 25 remain the most common age group for driver road deaths.

*Just over half of fatal collisions (56 per cent) involve a single vehicle, usually involving a loss of control and collision with a roadside object (eg tree, ditch, fence, wall etc.)

* The majority of fatal collisions occur on local and regional roads outside built up areas - about 63percent of collisions, while 80 per cent of fatal collisions occur on roads with a speed limit of 80 km/h or above.