December road deaths worst since 2007 as 20 lives lost
Road deaths for December were the worst since 2007, with 15 people losing their lives on our roads in the last fortnight of the year, new figures show.
However, there was a significant drop in road deaths in 2015 overall, with figures from the Road Safety Authority (RSA) revealing that 165 people died on Irish roads in 2015, a decrease from 193 in 2014 and 188 in 2013.
Despite the overall improvement, a series of deadly accidents took place during the Christmas period, when there was one road death almost every day from December 22 to New Year's Eve.
Chief Superintendent Mark Curran of the Garda National Traffic Bureau said it had been the worst December for road deaths since 2007.
The final victim on Irish roads in 2015 was a 52-year-old motorcyclist who lost his life after colliding with a car on the N17 at Castelgar in Galway on Wednesday, December 30.
That fatality brought to 20 the number of people who lost their lives in road tragedies in December.
RSA chairperson Liz O'Donnell said: "It's difficult to describe 2015 as a success when 165 people lost their lives on the roads and especially after the carnage we witnessed in the final weeks of the year."
"But the number of people being killed on the road is the only way we can measure success or failure and it's important people know progress is being made and their efforts are making a difference," she added.
"Our thoughts are also with the families of the bereaved, and we will work to ensure fewer families suffer such tragedy in 2016."
The new figures show a 15pc decrease in road deaths since 2014. As of December 31, 2015, 75 drivers, 27 passengers, 32 pedestrians, 22 motorcyclists and nine cyclists were killed on Irish roads.
Some 129 (78pc) of those deaths were male and 36 (22pc) were female.
Younger drivers accounted for 25pc of fatalities.
No seatbelt was worn in 29pc of driver and passenger deaths.
However, pedestrian deaths fell by 22pc to 32 compared to 2014. Meanwhile, there was a drop in the number of motorcyclist and cyclist deaths, which fell by 8pc and 31pc respectively compared to 2014.
Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe called on road users to remain vigilant in 2016.
"A reduction of 15pc in the number of fatalities is a positive development but the number of lives tragically lost, especially in recent weeks, reminds us that we must continue to focus on the most effective ways of reducing the number of deaths and serious injuries on our roads," he said.
Mr Donohoe added that new legislation to tackle drug driving would be processed in January.
The RSA also urged the public to be aware of the consequences of using phones while driving, low-level speeding and not wearing seatbelts.