What the 2017 Road Safety Authority figures reveal about each county in Ireland
- There were 159 road fatalities in Ireland in 2017
- Dublin (23) and Cork (14) had the highest number
- However, per 100 head of population, Monaghan had the highest number of road fatalities in Ireland
The year just gone saw the fewest fatalities on Irish roads since records began, with 159 deaths recorded by the Road Safety Authority.
While every road death is regrettable, the reduction in road deaths to its lowest level since numbers were first collected in 1959 is to be welcomed.
The headline figure rightly received lots of coverage, but the underlying statistics published by the RSA are also worthy of examination.
The county-by-county breakdown published this week reveals that, somewhat unsurprisingly, the two largest population centres in the country, Dublin (23) and Cork (14) recorded the most road deaths in 2017.
However, if you compare the number of fatalities with the population figures from the 2016 Census, Cork comes in at number 19 on the list while Dublin is 23 out of 26, or the fourth safest county to view it another way.
Monaghan, with eight fatalities in 2017 for a population of 61,386 is, by percentage, the county with the highest rate of road deaths in Ireland.
Mayo, with 12 recorded deaths in 2017 for a population of 130,507 comes second while Louth (10 deaths for a population of 128,884) was third.
At the other end of the scale, Westmeath had the lowest percentage of road fatalities per head of population, with one fatality for a population of 88,770, just beating Laois, where there was also one fatality in 2017 for its slightly smaller population (84,697).
Total number of road fatalities per county
The provisional figure up to December 31 represents a decrease of 15pc in deaths, with 28 fewer than in 2016, when 186 people were killed on the roads in 174 fatal incidents.
However, despite the improvement, Transport Minister Shane Ross said safety was still "not good enough".
"It is very encouraging to see that we have reversed the upward trend in road deaths witnessed in 2016," he said.
"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."
RSA chairperson Liz O'Donnell said last year's fatality figures indicated drivers were finally starting to get the message about the importance of road safety.
However, she expressed her fear that "the downward trend would not be sustained in 2018 and beyond" unless there was a "concerted effort on the part of Government departments, agencies and the public to continue to implement the measures in the road safety strategy".