More than 25pc of crash drivers in Ireland weren't wearing a seatbelt: report
But number of cyclist deaths is down thanks to greater awareness, our RSA expert reports
This time last year the worrying increase in cyclist deaths was dominating the headlines - and rightly so.
A total of 10 cyclists had been killed in the first six months of the year.
That was a doubling in deaths among this vulnerable road user group compared with the previous first six months of 2016.
And despite 2017 being the safest year on record, the number of cyclist casualties continued to increase.
By the end of the year the number killed had risen to 14.
So how have we done in the first six months of 2018, and are we seeing a similar pattern of cyclist trauma?
Last week we published a review of road safety for the first six months of the year jointly with the gardai.
As of June 30, there have been 73 fatal collisions, which have resulted in 78 fatalities on our roads.
This represents 3pc more collisions (+2) and 3pc more deaths (+2) compared with the corresponding first six months of last year.
There have only been reductions in deaths among two road user groups.
The first, and the biggest, is amongst cyclists.
There have been four fewer cyclists killed in the first six months of the year, representing a 40pc decrease.
While the downward trajectory is encouraging, six deaths is still way too high a price to pay for our mobility.
The second group reflecting reduced deaths is motorcyclists. A halving to be exact.
It's difficult to say for sure what's behind the reductions. Media focus on the issue of cycling safety must have helped.
The proposal from the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to introduce a Minimum Passing Distance law must have contributed too.
The fact that two new media awareness campaigns aimed at both of these road users groups could have played a part.
There hasn't been any improvement in the number of pedestrian casualties; 18 have died up to June compared to 17 in the previous six-month period.
What is worth highlighting here is the number of older casualties, which accounted for almost 40pc of deaths.
This was a pattern evident among drivers killed too.
Of the drivers killed in the first six months, the highest risk age group was those 66 years and older; 11 drivers or 28pc fell into this classification out of 39 driver deaths.
Passenger fatalities were highest among the 16-25 age group and those aged 56-65.
Overall driver and passenger fatalities represented almost two-thirds of fatalities (65pc) in the first six months of 2018.
There has been an increase in the number of driver fatalities (+7) and passenger fatalities (+1).
Compared with last year there has been an almost 20pc increase in the number of vehicle occupant fatalities, from 43 in 2017 to 51 in 2018.
While it's difficult at this stage to pinpoint the causes or pre-crash factors that led to these driver and passenger deaths, because forensic collision investigations are ongoing, we do have access to some information that could provide some answers.
Based on the preliminary crash investigations, conducted by gardai at the scene of fatal crashes in the first six months of this year, we have been able to establish, in many cases, if a seatbelt was in use or not at the time of the collision.
Almost a third (28pc) of drivers and a quarter (25pc) of passengers were found not to have been wearing a seatbelt at the time of the fatal crash.
The last advertising campaign that focused on seatbelt wearing was produced back in 2006, and went off air in 2009.
It may be time to go back to basics and re-tackle the problem of people not belting up.