Motorcyclists’ death rate drops, but Garda warn that crashes are more likely during summer

Bike Safe Programme aims to cut number of fatalities and serious injuries by raising awareness and identifying areas for rider improvement

Consultant orthopaedic and spine surgeon Kit Sinnott; Garda Commissioner Drew Harris; Liz O’ Donnell, chairperson, RSA; and Assistant Commissioner Paula Hilman, at the launch of the Bike Safe programme. Photograph: Keith Arkins

The death rate for motorcyclists on Irish roads has dropped by almost 80 per cent so far in the first quarter of 2023, but gardaí have warned most crashes are likely during the summer.

Overall fatality statistics compiled by road safety advocates Parc show that as of March 27th, two more people have been killed in road crashes compared to the same period last year, with the total now standing at 44.

However, it noted just two motorcyclists have died, compared to eight in the same period last year.

Counties Mayo and Galway have recorded higher fatality rates to date compared to the entirety of 2022, according to the organisation which previously highlighted the deadliest January in over a decade with the loss of 20 people.


“Mayo has had eight deaths so far in the space of less than 90 days and yet for the full 12 months last year they had five,” said Parc founder Susan Gray, who added that Galway has seen seven deaths compared to six throughout 2022.

“However, it’s good news to see motorcycle deaths have come down considerably.”

Despite that early trend, gardaí on Tuesday sounded a word of caution for users of motorbikes, noting that about half of collisions occur at the weekend, and most from July to September.

An Garda launched its Bike Safe Programme on Tuesday, an initiative aimed at cutting the number of fatalities and serious injuries by raising awareness and identifying areas for rider improvement.

In the last five years, over 90 people on motorbikes have died in crashes with many others suffering life changing injuries.

The Bike Safe programme provides a workshop and an observed ride by a skilled Advanced Garda Motorcyclist, and is open to all riders with a full driving licence.

In relation to all categories of road user deaths, Parc has observed that vehicle driver deaths, separate to motorcycles, have increased from 18 to 25.

Wicklow, Sligo, Laois, Leitrim, Roscommon, Cavan, Longford and Kildare are the only counties not to have recorded a death on its roads to date this year, it said.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times