One in three of those killed in car crashes had no seatbelt on
One in three drivers and passengers killed on the roads so far this year were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the fatal collisions which took their lives.
The Road Safety Authority (RSA) said that 15 of 41 drivers, and four of 15 passengers, were not wearing a safety belt. It has also warned of a spike in deaths among older road users.
Chief executive Moyagh Murdock said complacency could be setting in among older drivers, coupled with some having "a bit of mid-life crisis" which resulted in speeding. Further research was needed, she said.
The RSA and gardaí have warned that unless drivers change their behaviour, as many as 100 more people will die before the end of the year.
New figures show that 92 people have died between January and July this year, a drop of 21 on the same period in 2014, but that a failure to wear seatbelts is now a major source of concern.
A provisional review of road fatalities for the first seven months of the year shows that 87 collisions occurred.
"Should our records continue as per July, with 20 deaths per month, as many as 100 more people could lose their lives by year end," Ms Murdock said.
"Of particular concern is the fact that of the 57 drivers and passengers killed to date in 2015, 15 drivers and four passengers were reported as not wearing their seatbelt.
"We all need to be vigilant about our behaviour on the roads, and take greater responsibility for our actions. Don't spend a lifetime regretting one bad decision."
The review of fatalities from January to July 2015 finds:
- Road deaths have declined by 19pc compared with last year (92 compared with 113), with reductions in all road-user groups.
- Up to July 31, 41 drivers, 16 passengers, 18 pedestrians, 12 motorcyclists and five cyclists have been killed.
- There has been a rise in the number of people killed aged 16-25, which is up from 19 to 23. Deaths among older drivers aged 56-65 also rose, up to 17 from 11.
- The sharpest drop in deaths is among road users aged 15 or younger, which fell 11, followed by vehicle passengers, which dropped by nine.
- Non-wearing of high visibility clothing is a concern among pedestrians.
- The highest number of driver fatalities was recorded in Cork, where six died.
While April had the lowest number of monthly fatalities since November 2012, with eight deaths, July was the most dangerous month, with 20.
Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe said that while any reduction in fatalities was welcomed "we cannot and must not become complacent".
He said: "I'm particularly shocked by the statistics around seatbelt use. To see that 37pc drivers who tragically lost their lives were not wearing seatbelts is a real reminder to us to refocus our efforts and remind us to put our seatbelts on.
"We need to promote the crucial message of seatbelts. A core message to all road users is that personal responsibility plays a crucial role in reducing fatalities."
Superintendent Con O'Donohoe from the Garda National Traffic Bureau added that bad decisions cost lives and that road users needed to realise that when they took risks like speeding, drink or drug driving, not wearing a seatbelt or having proper personal safety gear, they were putting their lives and those of others at risk.
Some 3,666 motorists have been detected driving while intoxicated, another 88,409 were caught speeding and 4,715 were stopped for not wearing a seatbelt so far this year, he added. Another 13,560 were caught using a mobile phone.
Nine people have died on the roads in August, bringing the total to date to 101, down 22 on last year.