Forbes Vigors: Engineer whose work helped reduce road deaths

Obituary: Road safety expert had international profile in the EU, US and Middle East

Forbes Vigors, who has died aged 45, was an engineer and road safety expert whose work was indispensable to the efforts to reduce road fatalities in Ireland. He was also renowned internationally and was ranked in the top echelons of road safety experts in Europe.

A colleague at the Road Safety Authority (RSA) said that with his death, Ireland and Irish road safety "has lost one of its most brilliant minds".

His wife and young family, who were Vigors’s enduring number one priority, have also lost a devoted husband and father. He died suddenly, of a suspected heart attack, after playing hockey.

Vigors grew up in Arklow, Co Wicklow. His family had roots in agriculture: his grandfather was a farmer and his father a dealer in farm machinery. However, Forbes took a different path.


He was educated at Carysfort National School in Arklow, at Kilkenny College and at the Institute of Technology in Carlow, known then as the Regional Technical College, where he did a diploma in civil engineering. He turned this into a full engineering degree after a further two years at the University of South Wales in Glamorgan.

Work experience

While still a student, he gained work experience with

Wicklow County Council

, being placed in the council’s road design section, where two senior officials became his mentors. After graduation, he was offered a full-time position with the council and worked on several projects, including the design of the Arklow N11 bypass, on which he became site engineer.

Subsequently, he was appointed to the regional design office in Tramore, Co Waterford, where he honed a growing interest in road safety, leading, in 2005, to his joining the National Roads Authority in Dublin, now known as Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII).

Vigors immersed himself in collision cluster analysis, working closely with the Garda Síochána and the Road Safety Authority. He devised a method of digitally assembling and analysing road crash data for Ireland’s primary roads network that gave planners, road designers and engineers and, ultimately politicians, the empirical evidence upon which to base decisions and any impact those decisions might have on road safety.

His work played a significant role in the reduction of road deaths in recent years and in giving the RSA data upon which to base public awareness campaigns.

Vigors was secretary of the Conference of European Directors of Roads (CEDR) and through this had a substantial international profile, participating in road safety conferences throughout the European Union, the Middle East and the United States.

Team player

Vigors married Carmel (nee Canterbury) in 2005. They had met while both worked for Wicklow County Council. He loved spending time with his wife and two daughters, whether cycling, walking or just being together.

He loved all sports, particularly soccer, rugby and hockey. He played for Wicklow Hockey Club and was competitive but, above all, a team player. He was accomplished at DIY, enjoyed bridge, his aquarium of tropical fish, gardening and more recently tennis which he envisioned playing with his family.

To those who knew and loved him – a circle that extended far beyond his immediate family – Vigors was a notably kind man as well as being funny, warm and good-humoured.

He is survived by his wife Carmel and their daughters Evie, aged 10, and Grace, aged five, his mother Anne Vigors, brothers Derek and Graeme, and a large extended family.