Concern about road deaths on rural roads

Concern about road deaths on rural roads

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Hildegarde Naughton is concerned about the increase in fatalities on rural roads. Photo:Gareth Chaney/Collins

MORE than 80% of road deaths this year have occurred on rural roads.

New data published today by the Road Safety Authority and An Garda Síochána reveals that 65 people were killed in 60 collisions in Ireland up to July 15.

Of those, 82% of deaths occurred on rural roads with a speed limit of 80km or higher.

The report also shows that there have been 406 people injured in accidents up to July 15 this year.

According to data from gardaí, there has been a reduction in collisions of 12%, with a similar reduction in road deaths.

The data also reveals that between midday and 4pm is the riskiest time on Irish roads, with 31% of fatalities occurring in this time window.

There were 59% fewer road user fatalities occurring between midnight and 8am compared to the same period in 2020. The number of fatalities occurring at the weekend decreased by a quarter versus last year.

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Ms. Hildegarde Naughton said: “Any reduction in lives lost on Irish roads is to be welcomed; however, the increase in fatalities on rural roads is very concerning. Behavioural changes due to the pandemic, such as remote working, are visible in the collision patterns this year. 

"The traditional rush hour periods are less pronounced in the road safety statistics compared to pre Covid-19 and we have seen a huge drop in collisions happening overnight. The riskiest time on our roads is now in the middle of the day and evening. With our roads busier than ever as people holiday across the island, we all need take care and be mindful of other road users on every trip.” 

Sam Waide, Chief Executive, Road Safety Authority said: “While road deaths may be down this year, it should be viewed against an increase in deaths in 2020. Deaths fell in most European countries due to the Covid-19 pandemic last year, but not in Ireland. As a result, Ireland has slipped from second safest country in the EU 27 to fifth.”

 “Our own research is telling us that one factor behind this is a deterioration in road user behaviour. The Driver Attitudes & Behaviour Survey which we conducted late last year revealed more drivers admitting to speeding in 50km and 100km speed zones. It also showed an increase in motorists texting while driving plus driving while fatigued and nodding off while behind the wheel. 

"This research confirms what our colleagues in An Garda Síochána are seeing in reality on the roads, with many drivers taking unnecessary risks. More drivers and motorcyclists have been killed on the road in 2021, so I’m asking everyone who gets behind the wheel to slow down and stay focused, especially as traffic volumes increase and return to normal levels in the coming months,” concluded Mr. Waide.

Chief Superintendent Mick Hennebry, Garda National Roads Policing Bureau, An Garda Síochána said: “Firstly, I want to thank the majority of road users for their generally high levels of compliance with road traffic legislation and speed limits. 

"We know however that speed is a factor in one third of fatal collisions in Ireland and unfortunately, we continue to see a minority of motorists drive at speeds in excess of the legal limit on our roads. 

"Last year, An Garda Síochána issued 181,263 Fixed Charge Notices to motorists for speeding and we are seeing detections continue to rise across 2021.” 

Chief Superintendent Hennebry continued: “We want everyone to enjoy their Bank Holiday weekend so are asking people to consider the safety of all road users and support An Garda Síochána in our efforts to keep all people safe, particularly as we focus on speeding and other life-saver offences this holiday weekend. 

"If you are heading on staycation this weekend, please leave yourself plenty of time to get to your destination. Take breaks and if you feel tired, pull over. Make sure that caravans and other loads are properly secured before you start your journey. Finally, we would appeal to motorists visiting tourist spots and beaches to park legally and be mindful of emergency vehicles requiring access to such areas.”

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