Road deaths drop to a record low for 2018

‘Serious concern’ at sharp increase in the number of pedestrian deaths on roads

As of New Year’s Eve, 151 people have been killed on Irish roads though the eventual figure may be less than that when reclassification takes place.  File photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

As of New Year’s Eve, 151 people have been killed on Irish roads though the eventual figure may be less than that when reclassification takes place. File photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

 

The number of people killed on the State’s roads in 2018 was 149, according to provisional figures from the Road Safety Authority (RSA).

The number is the lowest annual figure for road deaths since records began in 1959.

In 2018, there was a 4 per cent drop in road fatalities showing a continued improvement in Ireland’s road safety performance.

An Garda Síochána said the 149 people lost their lives as a result of 142 fatal crashes, compared to 156 lives lost in 141 fatal crashes in 2017.

This represents seven fewer fatalities than in 2017, the previous record low.

The number of road deaths in the Republic has been consistently under 200 since 2010 though there have been a few fluctuations in recent years.

Fatalities fell to 163 in 2012 and then increased again in 2013 and 2014 to 190 and 193 respectively before dropping back to 162 in 2015, which was followed in 2016 by an increase to 187.

While numbers of deaths are now some 130 less than they were a decade ago , Minister for Transport Shane Ross said they are “not good enough”.

Mr Ross, whose new Road Traffic Bill proposes graduated penalties for speeding motorists in line with how far in excess they were over the speed limit, “the crusade to improve road safety and save lives will accelerate” in 2019.

He said “speed continues to kill, with 130,000 drivers were detected committing speeding offences in 2018” while “drink driving persists and unaccompanied learner drivers continue to break the law”.

Mr Ross said “reckless road users cannot be allowed to ruin the lives of innocent others and their families”.

Moyagh Murdock, chief executive of the RSA, said while one death is one too many, the reduction in road deaths in 2018 is welcome. She said it was a serious concern that there was a 32 per cent increase in pedestrian casualties compared to 2017.

Ms Murdock urged all road users to reflect on their behaviour and their responsibilities as road users.

Liz O’Donnell, chairwoman of the RSA, said called for funding to be provided to the Garda Mobility Project, which allows gardaí to check details of a range of motorists’ offences at the road side, in particular disqualified driving, unaccompanied learner driving and those uninsured driving.

Assistant Commissioner Dave Sheehan of the Garda National Roads Policing Unit thanked “the majority of law abiding road users who acted responsibly in 2018 and to the road users who supported Garda initiatives” .

“ Your behaviour has saved lives and I want to acknowledge this” he said. However, he warned more than 130,000 drivers had been detected committing speeding offences; almost 30,000 detected using a mobile while driving; almost 9,000 driving under the influence of an intoxicant; and more than 11,000 were detected for seatbelt offences.

“ As Garda numbers assigned to Road Policing Units in districts around the country increase in 2019 I can guarantee that people will see a greater garda presence on the roads. Whether there are any detections for traffic offences is entirely up to road users themselves.”