2021 saw the lowest number of road fatalities since records began in 1959.
That is according to provisional road collision statistics from the Road Safety Authority (RSA).
This data showed that the number of road deaths in Ireland in 2021 dropped to a record low.
RSA reports that 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 9% drop in road fatalities compared to last year.
The RSA published these figures on Saturday, January 1st, 2022, 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 last 25 years.
Furthermore, there were increases in fatalities among both drivers (70, +9) and motorcyclists in 2021 (21, +4).
Provisional figures for serious injuries indicate that 1,091 serious injuries were recorded up to December 21st, 2021 compared to 1,105 in 2020.
2021 road fatalities
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;
- Also, over 7,500 unaccompanied learner drivers were detected.
Safer year on roads
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 in 2021.”
“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,” she added.
She said the ambition of the recently launched Government Road Safety Strategy 2021 to 2030, ‘Our Journey Towards Vision Zero’ reflects this.
It aims to:
- Reduce deaths and serious injuries by 50% over the next decade;
- 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.”
O’Donnell pointed out the decrease in the number of passenger, pedestrian, and cyclist deaths in 2021.
However, she said 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.”
She said preventing serious injuries needs to be a focus for us in 2022.
“Given that 75% 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.”
Main lifesaver offences
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.”
Assistant Commissioner Hilman said we will continue to focus on the main lifesaver offences of:
- Driving under the influence of an intoxicant;
- Non-wearing of seatbelts;
- Using a mobile while driving;
- Learner drivers driving unaccompanied.
Sam Waide, Chief Executive, RSA said a decrease in road deaths and serious injuries is welcome.
However, he said we must not accept 133 lives lost and 1,091 serious injuries on our roads.
“The majority of collisions are preventable.”
Following the recent launch of the new government road safety strategy, Ireland has now embraced ‘Vision Zero’.
Ireland has 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%. 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. Working together, with the required funding, we need to continue the implementation of the 50 high impact actions that have been identified for delivery in the first Action Plan of the new government Road Safety Strategy,” Waide concluded.