Road deaths down 15% in 2017 to 158, the lowest on record

‘Ultimately our aim should be zero deaths on our roads,’ says Minister for Transport Shane Ross

Gardai on the scene of a car crash in Co Louth that killed three people in July. Photograph: Alan Betson

Gardai on the scene of a car crash in Co Louth that killed three people in July. Photograph: Alan Betson

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A total of 158 people were killed on the Republic’s roads last year, a fall of 15 per cent on 2016 and the lowest annual death toll since records began in 1959.

According to provisional figures from the Garda, the 158 lives were lost in 143 separate crashes. This compares to 186 lives lost in 174 fatal crashes in 2016.

The previous record low was set in 2015 when 162 people were killed.

In Northern Ireland, 63 people lost their lives on the roads in in 2017, five less than in 2016.

The reduction in road deaths in the Republic was immediately welcomed by the Road Safety Authority, the Garda and Minister for Transport Shane Ross., who nevertheless all warned against complacency.

Mr Ross said the reduction coincided with a 10 per cent increase in the strength of the Garda Traffic Corps. While the drop in numbers of deaths was “encouraging” he said “ultimately our aim should be zero deaths on our roads.”

Mr Ross said it was obvious that better road traffic legislation saves lives. “A vital tool in helping to reduce deaths and injury further is the new Road Traffic Bill (Amendment) 2017. I implore all members of the Oireachtas to allow its unimpeded passage so that its life saving measures can be introduced without delay,” he said.

Assistant Garda commissioner Michael Finn thanked “all the drivers who slowed down, wore their safety belt, put the mobile away and most importantly did not drink or take drugs and drive”. But he said “one road death is one too many”.

“An Garda Síochána will continue to target those that put others in danger on the roads, and the additional 150 Traffic Corps members being recruited in 2018 will greatly assist us to target and intercept those that cause risk to you and I on the road.”

RSA chief executive Moyagh Murdock said Ireland was still a long way off achieving its targets as set out in the Government Road Safety Strategy 2013 to 2020. The strategy aims to reduce road fatalities on the Republic’s roads to 124 or fewer by 2020.

This requires a further 22 per cent reduction in road deaths, on 2017 figures, over the next three years.

“While this will be a challenging target to achieve given our mixed road safety performance since 2013, its one that we must all strive to achieve through our continued efforts to implement the 144 road safety measures contained in the strategy” Ms Murdock said.

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