Rise in road fatalities on last year’s figures

There has been an alarming increase in the number of child, cyclist, and pedestrian casualties on Irish roads, according to a review of Ireland’s road safety performance in the first seven months of 2014, published by the Road Safety Authority and An Garda Síochána.

From January to July 2014, there were 104 fatal collisions, which resulted in 113 deaths. This represents two more collisions, and five more deaths compared to the same period in 2013. This increase is a major concern, particularly in the context of the increase in fatalities seen in 2013, when deaths for the year rose from 162 to 190, marking the first increase in fatalities since 2005.

Thirteen children under the age of 16 died in the first seven months of the year; seven were pedestrians and six were car passengers. Seven children lost their lives in the whole of last year. This means that the number of child casualties so far this year has already exceeded the total number of child deaths in 2013.

Pedestrians account for the greatest proportion of vulnerable road user deaths. Twenty-three pedestrians died between January and July which is an increase of nine deaths. In 18 of the 19 cases, where information was available, the pedestrian was familiar with the local area where the collision occurred. Fourteen of the pedestrians were female. There was a higher rate of fatalities among those over 65 and those under 15. Nine cyclists lost their lives on the roads, compared to five in the whole of 2013.

Last year saw a spike in motorcycle casualties, and this pattern is being repeated in 2014. Fifteen motorcycle users died in collisions. Eleven of the 13 fatal crashes were two vehicle collisions, the majority involving a car. Thirteen of the motorcyclists were male.

The only area where an improvement was recorded was the number of driver deaths, which dropped from 55 deaths up to the end of July 2013 to 45 in 2014.

A statistical prediction for year end 2014 conducted by the RSA Research Department estimates that the total number of fatalities for 2014 could be in the range of 156 to 216. There is a high likelihood that fatalities for 2014 could be around 186 or worse if the current trend is not reversed.

Recently, a number of measures have been introduced to protect people and to make our roads safer; penalty points for using a mobile phone, for speeding and for not wearing a seat belt have been increased; a new Novice category has been introduced for those who are obtaining their first full licence and a reduced point limit for disqualification comes into force for Novice and learner drivers.

The gardai are particularly appealing for drivers to reduce speed, always a wear safety belt, watch out for other road users. Passengers must always wear your safety belt and never distract the driver. Pedestrians are encouraged to make themselves visible and always take care crossing the road, while cyclists must be seen, obey the rules of the road, and take greater care around large vehicles. Motorcyclists should wear appropriate personal protection equipment, and ride with restraint. Parents and guardians must make sure their children are playing in a safe place this autumn.

The Gardai says it is up to roadusers to ensure they do everything in their power to keep themselves and everyone else who shares the road safe.

As of Friday, August 1, a total of 113 people have died on Ireland’s roads. This marks an increase of five deaths compared to the same date last year.

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