Provisional road crash statistics for 2013, which have been published by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) on Tuesday 31st December, shows that for the first time since 2005, road traffic fatalities have increased on Irish roads. A total of 189 people have lost their lives on the roads in 2013, compared to 162 in 2012, representing a 17% rise.
Mr. Gay Byrne, Chairman, RSA, said, “we have consistently warned that the greatest danger we face on the roads is complacency and unfortunately, in 2013 we have as a society, dropped our guard. As a result we have managed to kill 27 more people this year compared to last. It’s a stark way to put it but it’s the truth. It represents a very worrying development and highlights the need, for all road users to be more vigilant.”
Mr. Byrne added that, “We must get back on track and reverse the increase in deaths. This means all agencies responsible for road safety must push harder to implement all 144 actions contained in the new Government Road Safety Strategy, which was launched earlier in 2013. But critically it means that all of us must accept greater responsibility by becoming custodians and champions for safety on the road. By doing this we can save lives and prevent injuries.”
Of real concern is the number of vulnerable road users killed. One third of those who died were a pedestrian (30), a cyclist (5) or a motorcyclist (27). Closer examination of pedestrian fatalities shows that a significant proportion of fatalities were aged 50 plus. A high proportion of pedestrian fatalities occurred while crossing the road.
Of significant concern is the fact that nearly twice as many motor cyclists died in 2013 compared to last year. 27 lives were lost among this group compared to 16 in 2012.
The number of drivers and passengers killed in 2013 has also increased, up from 78 to 95 and from 27 to 32 respectively. Compared to last year this represents a 22% increase in driver fatalities in 2013. Analysis of collisions indicates that in almost one in five cases, no seatbelt was worn. This represents an increase in the number reports where ‘no seatbelt’ is cited as a pre-crash factor.
Minister Varadkar, commenting on the end of year report said “These statistics should serve as a reminder to us all of our shared responsibility to be safety aware at all times on our roads, and also to pay special attention to bikers, cyclists and pedestrians. This Government is determined to reverse the increase in road casualties witnessed this year and to improving safety overall on our roads. Specifically I look forward to the enactment of the new Road Traffic Bill in 2014.”
The Minister added that, “This new Road Traffic Bill is the third piece of Road Traffic legislation that this Government has approved since coming to office. The Bill introduces reforms for driving licences which will create a new class of Novice driver, and will allow testing for intoxicated driving, including drug driving. It also provides for the addition of new penalty point offences and an increase in points for certain road safety offences such as mobile phone use and non-seatbelt wearing. I am confident that these new road safety measures will go some way towards improving road safety in 2014.”
Commenting on the end of year statistics Assistant Garda Commissioner, John Twomey said, “An Garda Síochana is fully committed to ensuring that the roads in this country are a safe and secure place for all our road users. I can also guarantee that An Garda Síochána will be putting in place a comprehensive policing plan in 2014. This plan will target the main killer behaviours that consistently feature as factors in road trauma. We will also be factoring the findings from the analysis of road collisions in 2013 into our enforcement activity. Drivers in particular need to understand that they run the increasing risk of losing their driving licences in 2014 if they continue to commit road traffic offences. Of course it is important to remember that the reason behind all the enforcement is not to put drivers off the road. It is to save lives and prevent injuries.”
A copy of the ‘Provisional Review of Fatal Collision Statistics for 2013’ can be downloaded from rsa.ie. A copy of the Government’s Road Safety Strategy 2013 to 2020 can also be downloaded from the same site. Details of the new Road Traffic Bill 2014 can be found on the Department of Transport website.