Accident blackspots: counties where death risk is highest
THE country's worst accident blackspots can be revealed today -- and they show that motorists in some counties are almost five times more likely to be killed than in others.
An analysis of fatal road accidents showed that drivers in rural counties are far more likely to die in crashes.
New data from the Road Safety Authority (RSA) showed that Co Roscommon is the most dangerous county in which to drive, but that Laois, Donegal, Cavan and Leitrim are also treacherous.
The safest county is Dublin, followed by Galway, Clare, Cork and Meath.
Researchers analysed crash data from every accident in 2010 that involved a fatality or a driver, passenger, pedestrian or other road user being hospitalised overnight. It benchmarked the number of accidents in each county against the population.
The results showed that the average number of deaths per million of population stands at 70, but that death rates in 11 of the 26 counties are above this level.
The figures also showed:
• There were nine people killed in Co Roscommon -- Ireland's fifth least populated county. This amounts to a death rate of 153 per million of population.
• Co Laois is slightly behind, with nine dead in 2010, or 134 per million -- followed by Donegal (19, or 129 per million), Cavan (seven, or 109 per million) and Leitrim (three, or 104 per million).
• Co Cavan and Co Longford drivers suffer the greatest number of injuries with 3,080 per million and 3,085 per million respectively. This compares with Dublin (1,485 per million) and Co Kilkenny (1,648 per million).
• The safest county is Dublin, with 20 dead in 2010. This equates to 17 deaths per million.
• It is followed by Co Galway (six, or 26 per million), Co Clare (four, or 36 per million), Co Cork (18, or 37 per million) and Co Meath (six, or 37 per million).
• In 2010, 212 people were killed on the roads and 8,270 were injured. Injuries ranged from bruising and broken limbs to permanent brain damage.
• Overall, between 2005 and 2010, a total of 1,828 people were killed on the roads. Another 53,469 were injured.
The RSA, which compiled the data based on garda investigations of accidents, said that the number of crashes was high in rural counties as many roads were single-carriageway and because they carried large traffic volumes.
"When you come out into rural counties you don't have the population, but you have a huge throughput," chief executive Noel Brett said.
"People going to and from Dublin have to go through those counties.
"You'll see single carriageway roads with no hard shoulder, which are absolutely unforgiving. If you swerve, or skid, you are going to go to the wrong side.
"But they are the most dangerous counties and that's where the efforts have to be in terms of enforcement and driver education."
A fatal road accident costs the State €2.75m, a figure based on the cost of emergency services, the time lost by closing the road and knock-on economic effects.
A minor accident costs more than €36,000. This means that the cost of accidents last year was at least €900m. The bill since 2005 stands at almost €7bn.
The data showed that driver error is the cause of most crashes (83.4pc).
Motorists have caused needless deaths by ignoring traffic signals and running stop signs, while in two-car collisions involving death or serious injury the main reasons are because a driver was on the wrong side of the road, drove through a stop/yield sign, was speeding or ignored a red light.
Other causes include pedestrian error (7.9pc), the road condition (5.8pc) and environment (2.8pc). Mechanical defects in the vehicle account for just 0.2pc of all accidents.
Reckless behaviour, speeding and drink-driving are among the primary causes or deaths on our roads.
The statistics also showed that most deaths are among young drivers aged 25-34 years (26.8pc), and that most happen when the weather is dry.
The AA warned that one bad crash could skew the figures by inflating the death rate, but that the findings held true for most countries.
"The denser the population, the fewer the collisions," spokesman Conor Faughnan said. "Every traffic accident is almost an unavoidable incident if every driver obeyed all the rules. If everybody did this, it would make a massive difference. There's not one thing that's unique to Ireland."