Provisional road crash statistics for 2013, published this week by the Road Safety Authority, show an increase in fatalities on Irish roads for the first time since 2005.
A total of 189 people died on the roads in 2013, compared to 162 in 2012, representing an increase of 17 per cent.
One third of those who died belonged to the categories of vulnerable road users — pedestrians (30 ), cyclists (five ), and motorcyclists (27 ). Among pedestrian fatalities a significant number of those who died were aged 50 plus. A high proportion of pedestrian fatalities occurred while crossing the road.
Nearly twice as many motor cyclists died last year compared to 2012; 27 lives were lost among this group in 2013, compared to 16 in 2012.
The number of drivers and passengers killed in 2013 has also increased, up from 78 to 95 and from 27 to 32 respectively. This represents a 22 per cent increase in driver fatalities in 2013 compared to 2012. According to the RSA figures, no seatbelt was worn in almost one in five cases.
“We have consistently warned that the greatest danger we face on the roads is complacency, and unfortunately in 2013 we have, as a society, dropped our guard,” said RSA chairman Gay Byrne. “We must get back on track and reverse the increase in deaths. This means all agencies responsible for road safety must push harder to implement all 144 actions contained in the new Government Road Safety Strategy, which was launched earlier in 2013. But critically it means that all of us must accept greater responsibility by becoming custodians and champions for safety on the road. By doing this we can save lives and prevent injuries.”
Minister for Transport, Tourism, and Sport Leo Varadkar said the statistics should serve as a reminder to everyone of our shared responsibility on the roads. “This Government is determined to reverse the increase in road casualties witnessed this year and to improving safety overall on our roads,” he added. “Specifically I look forward to the enactment of the new Road Traffic Bill in 2014.
“The Bill introduces reforms for driving licences which will create a new class of novice driver, and will allow testing for intoxicated driving, including drug driving,” he added. “It also provides for the addition of new penalty point offences and an increase in points for certain road safety offences such as mobile phone use and non-seatbelt wearing. I am confident that these new road safety measures will go some way towards improving road safety in 2014.”
Assistant Garda Commissioner John Twomey said the Garda intends to tackle road safety as part of its 2014 policing plan. “This plan will target the main killer behaviours that consistently feature as factors in road trauma,” he said. “We will also be factoring the findings from the analysis of road collisions in 2013 into our enforcement activity. Drivers in particular need to understand that they run the increasing risk of losing their driving licences in 2014 if they continue to commit road traffic offences. Of course it is important to remember that the reason behind all the enforcement is not to put drivers off the road. It is to save lives and prevent injuries.”