Figures published by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) in January 2022 recorded a 7 per cent drop in Irish road deaths in 2021 compared to 2020, with 19 pedestrian deaths in 2021 the lowest figure since records began. However, males accounted for almost three-quarters of all deaths in 2021 and the tragic end to 2021 a reminder of just how fragile life is on the road.
Provisional road collision statistics show that the number of road deaths in Ireland in 2021 dropped to a record low, making it the safest year since road deaths were first recorded in 1959.
A total of 136 people died in 123 fatal road collisions in 2021 compared to 146 deaths in 135 fatal road collisions in 2020. This represents 10 fewer deaths or a 7 per cent drop in road fatalities compared to last year. The figures were published by the RSA following an analysis of provisional fatal collision reports by An Garda Síochána.
The figures also indicate that while 19 pedestrians were killed in 2021, this is the lowest number of pedestrian deaths over the last 25 years since breakdowns by road users became available in 1996. Increases in fatalities occurred among both drivers (71, an increase of 10) and motorcyclists in 2021 (22, an increase of five). 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 TD said: “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.”
Liz O’Donnell, Chairperson of the RSA said: “Looking at the provisional road collision data it is encouraging to see that there were decreases in the number of passenger, pedestrian, and cyclist deaths this year. However, the increase in the number of driver deaths and motorcyclist deaths is a cause for concern. The number of serious injuries is also of concern.
“For every road death in 2021 there were over eight people seriously injured. Prevention of serious injuries needs to be a focus for us all next year. Given that 74 per cent of all road deaths were male, we must continue to target interventions at this group. It is vital that we continue the downward trend across all road user categories in 2022 and beyond. The priority for us all, government departments, agencies, industry, representative bodies, and individuals is to embrace the shared responsibility that’s at the heart of the new road safety strategy.”
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; and
• over 7,500 unaccompanied learner drivers were detected.
Sam Waide, Chief Executive, RSA said: “A decrease in road deaths and serious injuries is welcome, yet we must not accept 136 lives lost and 1,091 serious injuries on our roads. Most collisions are preventable. Under Vision Zero, we have all signed up to eliminate road deaths and serious injuries by 2050, and in the immediate term to 2030, reduce deaths and serious injuries by 50 per cent. It is critical that we build on the progress achieved in road safety this year. We must not become complacent or let this year become a chance occurrence. It can be done; it must be done.
The strategy is our pathway to do so.”
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