Mid-afternoon is now the most dangerous time on our roads
THE number of people losing their lives in afternoon road crashes jumped dramatically last year.
The mid-afternoon period is now the most dangerous time on our roads after a 160pc increase in the number of fatal accidents during those hours.
Twenty-six people died in accidents between 2-4pm last year, compared with just 10 in 2012.
Provisional Road Safety Authority (RSA) figures contained in a draft of its 'Review of Road Crashes 2013' show the numbers killed between 10am and midday also doubled.
The draft report, which is due for publication later this month, shows that Friday is now the most dangerous day to travel on Irish roads with 36 killed on that day, replacing Sunday.
There was also a significant spike in the numbers of people killed on Tuesdays.
"Twice as many fatalities occurred on a Tuesday compared with the same period last year," the report stated.
Overall, 190 people were killed on Irish roads throughout 2013 in 181 collisions.
Of those, 127 were drivers or passengers in cars; 31 were pedestrians; 27 were motorcyclists and five were cyclists.
Another shocking finding of the report is that 80pc of all people killed in road traffic collisions were male, and half of all driver fatalities were under the age of 34.
The 2013 figures represented a sharp 17pc increase in the numbers killed in 2012, where 162 lost their lives. The 2012 death toll was the lowest number of road fatalities in a 12-month period since records began.
The statistics come as a war of words has erupted between Gay Byrne of the Road Safety Authority and Justice Minister Alan Shatter over cuts to garda resources.
Mr Shatter rejected as "erroneous" Mr Byrne's claims that cuts to the garda budgets had led to people taking more chances on the roads because of "a lack of enforcement, caused by cutbacks".
The RSA concluded that the exceptionally good summer was a major factor in a 69pc spike in the number of motorcycle deaths, from 16 to 27 in 2013.
"A collision with a car ahead turning right is the main cause, leading to nine fatalities," the report said. All but one of the motorcyclists killed were male and the overwhelming majority of those killed were aged 50 or under.
January and November both saw 100pc increases in road deaths compared to 2012.
Mr Byrne said the RSA was deeply concerned about the high number of pedestrians, a total of 31, who were killed in 2013.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Mr Byrne lashed out at the Government's slashing of the budgets to the garda traffic division. He accused Mr Shatter of "washing his hands" of the problem, but said cutbacks were costing lives.
"The numbers in the traffic division have been cut from 1,200 to 800. They don't have enough patrol cars, enough resources, they don't get enough sleep. As long as that shortfall continues, lives will be lost," Mr Byrne said.
Rejecting Mr Byrne's comments, a spokesperson for Mr Shatter said an "erroneous impression that the level of enforcement is such that people can now take chances with road safety" must not be created.
"Garda enforcement remains high and determined," the spokesperson added.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Transport Minister Leo Vardakar said he was "very concerned" about the sharp rise in road deaths last year.
"This year we will enact legislation bringing in new penalty points, and higher points for speeding, using a mobile phone and speeding," he said.
A garda spokesman said the increase in road fatalities was "extremely disappointing".
"An Garda Siochana has less resources than previously, but our strong commitment to reducing road fatalities using both education and enforcement has not changed," he said.