Number in Garda’s Road Policing Unit still far off previous high

Law enforcement and safety groups have set September 19th as “European day without a road death”

The strength of the Garda’s Roads Policing Unit will pass 700 by the end of the year, still some way off its previous highest levels.

Projections from Garda Headquarters in the Phoenix Park said numbers would continue to increase by 450 towards 1,050 by the end of 2021.

The unit's forerunner, the Garda Traffic Bureau, had reached 1,200 before overall Garda numbers began to decrease as recruitment was halted during the recession.

News of the figures comes as the Garda urged road-users to play their part in a European-wide day of action. Law enforcement and safety groups all over Europe have set Wednesday, September 19th, as "European day without a road death" – also known as Project Edward.


The aim of reducing deaths to zero that day is aspirational, with those behind the Irish campaign saying some fatalities may still occur on European roads. However, Chief Supt Aidan Reid of the Roads Policing Unit said aiming for zero deaths would save lives.

“Although this is mainly an educational initiative there will be an enforcement plan put in place, assisted by the 87 recently-appointed roads policing members,” he said of the Irish operation on the day.

Penalties or incidents

“It will be advertised heavily in advance, so please take this opportunity to reflect on how you act on the roads and avoid any penalties or incidents.

"Last year [for Project Edward] there were zero fatalities in Ireland, and we wish for this to continue not only on Project Edward day but every day."

On average 70 people lose their lives each day on Europe’s roads.

Some 28 countries are taking part in Project Edward, co-ordinated by the European Traffic Police Network. It will be accompanied by a public safety campaign to encourage greater safety among drivers, motorcyclists, pedestrians and cyclists.

People across Europe are also being asked to visit to pledge their support for the operation.

‘Save more lives’

Minister for Transport Shane Ross said he hoped Irish people would get behind the project.

“Last year it brought the whole of Europe together in one concerted effort to reduce road deaths,” he said at the launch of Project Edward in Dublin on Friday. “This year let’s make it a record-breaking road safety event in Europe, and save more lives.”

So far this year 80 people have died on the roads of the Republic, four more than the same period last year. Some 39 of those killed this year were driving at the time, and 12 were passengers. Some 18 pedestrians have also been killed, as well as six cyclists and five motorcyclists.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times