15% increase in road deaths in 2016 – RSA

Provisional road collision statistics for 2016, published by the Road Safety Authority (RSA), which are based on preliminary crash investigations by An Garda Síochána, show that there has been a 15% increase in road traffic related fatalities in 2016 compared to 2015.

A total of 187 people have lost their lives on the roads in 175 fatal crashes in 2016, compared to 162 lives lost in 155 fatal crashes in 2015. This represents a 15% increase in fatalities and a 13% increase in fatal crashes*.

Minister Shane Ross, commenting on the end of year report said: “I am very saddened by such a huge loss of life on our roads in 2016. I am also acutely aware that these are more than just numbers. They represent someone’s son, daughter, brother, sister, father or mother. If anything is to come from such a tragic loss of life it is that it should serve as a reminder to us all that the road is a shared space, and that we have a duty of care towards each other every time we use the road.”

“I can assure you that this Government is determined to do all it can to reverse the increase in road casualties witnessed this year and to improving safety overall on our roads. Specifically, I look forward to the commencement of the provisions contained in the new Road Traffic Act 2016 which was signed into law by the President this week. This new Act introduces a series of reforms to deal with drug driving; written off vehicles; mutual recognition of driver disqualifications between Ireland and the UK; uninsured drivers; and a new optional 20km/h speed limit in built-up areas among other measures. I am confident that these new road safety measures will go some way towards improving road safety in 2016.”

Ms. Liz O’Donnell, Chairperson, Road Safety Authority, said “2016 has been a very bad year for road safety in Ireland. I am very concerned that the increase in deaths is part of a broader trend which has seen road deaths rise in three out of the last four years. This is unacceptable and we must all redouble our efforts to prevent more needless loss of life. Looking ahead to next year there are grounds for optimism. I certainly welcome the recent appointment of a dedicated Assistant Commissioner for Roads Policing and a firm commitment to increasing the numbers in the Garda Roads Policing Unit, which will allow for more visible policing. The new Road Traffic Act 2016 and the implementation of its life saving measures will also be hugely important to reversing the upward trend. However, this does not absolve individuals from their need to take greater personal responsibility for their actions when using the road.”

Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn, An Garda Síochána said, “An Garda Síochána will be putting in place a comprehensive policing plan in 2017. This plan will focus on the big four killer behaviours that featured consistently in the RSA & Garda Pre-Crash Reports that were published in 2016 following analysis of forensic collision investigation files. These behaviours are Speeding, Drink Driving, Non-Seatbelt wearing and using a mobile phone while driving. We will also be factoring the findings from the 2016 road collisions analysis report into our enforcement activity.

“This targeted enforcement strategy will also be aided by a 10% increase in the number of Garda personnel in the Roads Policing Unit, which will allow for greater monitoring of road user behaviour in 2017.” Concluded Assistant Commissioner Finn.

Moyagh Murdock, RSA Chief Executive, RSA, said, “In spite of the progress we have made in road safety over the past decade we are still seeing the same three killer behaviours, of alcohol, speed and non-seatbelt wearing, or more commonly a combination of all three having a devastating effect on innocent lives.

“I am particularly concerned about the role of alcohol in crashes. Arrest figures for the last six weeks of the Garda Christmas and New Year crackdown show that the attitudes and behaviour of a small number in our society hasn’t changed significantly. Their behaviour continues to have a disproportionate impact on road safety. We simply must take greater personal responsibility and this extends not only to those thinking of drink-driving, but also to those who knowingly turn a blind eye to it happening in our community. We all have a stark choice to make. Make safer decisions when using the road or allow another 186 or more lives to be lost in 2017. It’s a simple choice really.”