AFTER what has been a grim year on Ireland's roads with 195 deaths - five more than last year - gardai are warning motorists to belt-up.
With two days to go in 2014, the number of fatalities has increased for the second year in a row after successive drops in annual death tolls since 2005.
In addition, this year's figure for the number of pedestrians killed has also exceeded 2013's - with 42 dying after being hit by vehicles, 11 more than last year.
Garda National Traffic Bureau boss Chief Supt Michael O'Sullivan said that more than one-in-five road deaths could have been avoided if the victims had been wearing a seat belt.
He pointed out that around 1,100 people are prosecuted every month for not wearing a belt.
"I find that astonishing", Mr O'Sullivan said.
"What does it take to persuade motorists to strap themselves in and also ensure their families are strapped in, before they begin a journey," he asked.
"We estimate that 22pc of deaths on the roads could have been prevented by seat belts."
The biggest factor in road deaths is speed, and gardai have repeated their call to motorists to slow down over the holiday season and exercise greater caution, particularly in bad weather conditions and on freezing roads of the sort seen in recent days.
Meanwhile, Brian Farrell, spokesman for the Road Safety Authority, said a disturbing feature this year has been the number of young pedestrian deaths.
In total, 15 children under the age of 15 were killed on Irish roads this year, compared to seven for the whole of 2013.
"That's nearly double the number of child fatalities. And half of those 15 children were pedestrians," Mr Farrell said.
At the other end of the spectrum, the number of older people injured this year has also increased.
"Pedestrians need to take extra steps to protect their vulnerability. The simplest measure they can take is to wear a high visibility jacket. They are available for free on the RSA website.
"Motorists need to slow down, especially in the towns and villages," Mr Farrell added.
"They need to be on guard and watching out for cyclists and pedestrians at all times," he said.
The capital saw 577 traffic collisions up to the start of this month - more than twice as many collisions as Co Cork where 228 crashes were reported to AA Roadwatch.
AA Ireland's Conor Faughnan said progress made to curb the number of road deaths has stalled, and increased resources are now "desperately needed".
"We have to become more determined to eradicate this. We were making terrific progress on road safety, but in the last couple of years we haven't made progress at all," he said.
"We need increased Government focus and resources. If that is not made available, we will not improve the road safety record in the years ahead," he said.