‘News will come as cold comfort’

The number of road deaths in Ireland in 2021 dropped to a record low, provisional road collision statistics have shown.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) say 2021 was the safest year since road deaths were first recorded in 1959.

A total of 133 people died in 120 fatal road collisions in 2021 compared to 146 deaths in 135 fatal road collisions in 2020. This represents 13 fewer deaths or a nine per cent drop in road fatalities compared to last year.

The figures were published by the RSA at the start of the year, following an analysis of provisional fatal collision reports by An Garda Síochána.

The figures also indicate that while 18 pedestrians were killed in 2021, this is the lowest number of pedestrian deaths over the past 25 years.

A breakdown by road users is only available since 1996. There were increases in fatalities among both drivers and motorcyclists in 2021.

Provisional figures for serious injuries indicate that 1,091 serious injuries were recorded up to the 21 December 2021 compared to 1,105 in 2020.

Commenting on the country’s road safety performance in 2021 Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Hildegarde Naughton said: “It is very welcome news that there has been a reduction in the number of road deaths and serious injuries this year. I want to thank road users for making it a safer year, especially after 2020 was such a bad year for road safety.

“However, I am conscious that this news will come as cold comfort to those who have been injured and the families left grieving the loss of a loved one. It reminds us that one death or serious injury is one too many.

“This is reflected in the ambition of the recently launched Government Road Safety Strategy 2021 to 2030, Our Journey Towards Vision Zero. It aims to reduce deaths and serious injuries by 50 per cent over the next decade and achieve no deaths or serious injuries on the road by 2050.”

Ms Liz O’Donnell, Chairperson of the RSA said: “The reduction in road deaths this year means that lives have been saved. While we never know who these people are, it is important that the road using public know that because of their choices and actions, fewer families had to deal with road trauma in 2021. However, as the past week has shown tragedy on the road can occur in a split second, we all need to be aware of just how fragile our lives are and take extra care on the road.”

Assistant Commissioner Paula Hilman, Garda Roads Policing and Community Engagement said: “I want to take this opportunity to thank the majority of law abiding road users who acted responsibly in 2021 and to the road users who supported the road safety initiatives of An Garda Síochána and the RSA. Regrettably, there are some drivers who continue to put not only their own lives but the lives of other road users at risk.”

During the course of 2021:

• Over 175,000 drivers were detected committing speeding offences

• Over 23,000 detected using a mobile while driving

• Almost 8,800 arrests were made for driving under the influence of an intoxicant

• Over 7,000 were detected for seatbelt offences

• Over 7,500 unaccompanied learner drivers were detected

Assistant Commissioner Hilman continued: “As we look to 2022, I want to reaffirm our commitment that roads policing and road safety will continue to be a core objective in the Annual Policing Plan of An Garda Síochána. We will continue to focus on the main life saver offences of speeding, driving under the influence of an intoxicant, non-wearing of seatbelts, using a mobile while driving and learner drivers driving unaccompanied.”