'Ultimately our aim should be zero deaths' - 2017 was safest year on record on Irish roads
- 'The drop in deaths in 2017 is a very welcome development'
- 30 pedestrians were killed, while 20 motorcyclists died
- 50pc increase in pedal cyclist fatalities
- Tribute paid to road safety campaigners
The number of people who lost their lives on Irish roads in 2017 declined 15pc, new figures show, as Ireland recorded its lowest ever number of fatalities on Irish roads.
A total of 158 people died in collisions in 2017, compared to 186 people who lost their lives on the roads in 2016.
According to the Road Safety Authority (RSA), 2017 was the safest year on Ireland’s roads since road deaths were first recorded in 1959.
Previously, 2015 with 162 deaths was the safest year on record.
Shane Ross, Minister for Transport, said that the figures were "encouraging".
"The combined focus on improved legislation, greater enforcement and road safety campaigns all played their part in saving lives. But while it is heartening to see that 2017 was the lowest year on record for road deaths, this is not good enough. We need to continue our efforts if we are to achieve the objective of reducing fatalities to 124 by 2020. Ultimately our aim should be zero deaths on our roads.”
Mr Ross noted that greater enforcement had resulted in higher detection figures and welcomed the commitment from An Garda Siochana that the 2017 increase of 10 per cent in the Traffic Corps will be repeated in 2018.
“It would also appear indisputable that the bravery of people like Gillian and Ronan Treacy in working with the RSA to show the devastation caused by reckless driving is making a real impact on the public consciousness. I thank them and all the road traffic victims groups who have campaigned so hard and so selflessly to make our roads safer.”
The highest number of fatalities were among drivers (67) despite the figure dropping 17pc from 81 deaths in 2016.
Some 30 pedestrians were killed last year, while 20 motorcyclists died on Irish roads.
This year, there has been a 50pc increase in pedal cyclist fatalities (15) in 2017 compared to 2016.
Ms Liz O’Donnell, Chairperson of the RSA said, “While one death is one too many the only way we can measure success or failure in road safety is by recording the number of deaths on our roads. The drop in deaths in 2017 is a very welcome development.
"Whatever the reason for this decline, the main factor was ultimately as a result of the decision of every road user to change their behaviour for the better. For this I thank you."
The highest risk age groups in 2017 for fatal road collision were those aged 66 and older (21pc of all road users killed), 16-25 year olds (21pc) and those aged 26-35 (18pc). This is a similar trend to that of 2016.
In 2017, there was also fewer child fatalities in 2017 (4) compared to 2016 (10).
The most common times for a fatal collision were between 12pm-4pm, with March being the most common month for fatalities.
Non-wearing of seatbelts remains a concern for both drivers and passengers (19pc).
Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn, Garda National Roads Policing Unit, An Garda Síochána said, “I would also like to express my thanks to all the drivers who slowed down, wore their safety belt, put the mobile away and most importantly did not drink or take drugs and drive.
"All road users played a part in making this the safest year on record – but we can never be complacent and we can always do more to reduce road fatalities further. One road death is one too many. An Garda Síochána will continue to target those that put others in danger on the roads, and the additional 150 Traffic Corps members being recruited in 2018 will greatly assist us to target and intercept those that cause risk to you and I on the road.”
Ms Moyagh Murdock, Chief Executive, RSA said “Ireland is still a long way off achieving its road safety targets as set out in the Government Road Safety Strategy 2013 to 2020. The Strategy has set the task of making Ireland’s roads as safe as the best performing countries in the European Union.
"Specifically to reduce road fatalities on Irish roads to 124 or fewer by 2020. This means there must be a further 22pc reduction in road deaths, on 2017 figures, over the next three years. While this will be a challenging target to achieve given our mixed road safety performance since 2013, its one that we must all strive to achieve through our continued efforts to implement the 144 road safety measures contained in the strategy.”