Review of 2019 – Fears that Progress on Road Safety Has Stalled


  • 7% increase in deaths in 2019
  • Almost 4/5 of road deaths occur on rural roads.
  • Sunday is most dangerous day on Irish roads
  • Sample numbers analysed by the Medical Bureau of Road Safety have increased by 40%

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) and An Garda Síochána have today Thursday 1 August 2019, published a provisional review of progress in road safety up to July 28, 2019*. The review shows that from 1 January to 28 July 2019, 89 people died on Irish roads in 80 collisions. This represents 3% more collisions and 7% more deaths compared to provisional Garda data for the same period in 2018.

The review shows that:

  • Road deaths have increased by 6 when compared to figures for the same period last year
  • Up to (and including) 28 July 2019, 49 drivers, 10 passengers, 15 pedestrians, 9 motorcyclists and 6 pedal cyclists have been killed on Irish roads
  • January and February were the worst months for road fatalities with 16 deaths in each month
  • Seventy fatalities (79%) occurred on rural roads with a speed limit of 80km/h or higher

Commenting on the review, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross T.D, said: “In June, Ireland was awarded the European Transport Safety Council Road Safety Pin Award in recognition of the efforts by many in this country in helping to reduce fatalities and serious injuries on our roads. It is heartening to see that Ireland has now been recognised as the second safest European Union Member State in 2018, demonstrating the significant progress made to date. It is clear that Government policy and investment has been effective in this area but I also want to pay tribute to the public for their ongoing commitment to road safety.”

Minister Ross continued: “However as we can see from the review released today, the progress we have made over many years is not guaranteed. We need to be constantly vigilant and continue to focus on reducing risky behaviours on our roads. Without the work of many stakeholders, we will see a reversal of our positive trajectory and we cannot allow that to happen.”

Ms. Liz O’Donnell, Chairperson, Road Safety Authority, said: “Looking to the rest of the year it is vital that we don’t lose focus on the need for greater enforcement to tackle the main killer behaviours on the road. Key to this is the appropriate resourcing and investment in the roads policing unit. The roll out of the mobility project to front line gardai needs to be accelerated in order to respond to the increase in deaths in 2019. This mobile phone technology will revolutionise road safety enforcement as it will give Gardaí at the roadside access to critical information such as driver disqualifications, insurance and NCT compliance. We see it as the most important development in enforcement since the introduction of the roadside breathalyser test. I would call on the Commissioner to ensure that the roll out is accelerated.”

Ms. Moyagh Murdock, CEO, RSA said: “The figures released today are alarming. Clearly, the progress we have made in road safety over the last two years is at risk of stalling. The vast majority of deaths and injuries on our roads are preventable. If we want to prevent any more tragedies on our roads we need to focus our attention on where the greatest risk is. The review presented today shows that this is at weekends and particularly on a Sunday. We are asking road users take greater care at these times and we want to see more targeted enforcement by An Garda Siochána at weekends if we are to reverse this worrying increase in 2019. The RSA are going to be focussing on enforcement activities in the commercial vehicle sector. We have also reduced Driving Test waiting times to their lowest ever so there is no excuse for people to be relying long term on a learner permit. I am calling on these drivers to take professional lessons which will prepare them for the test and make them better drivers.”

Assistant Commissioner David Sheahan, Garda National Roads Policing Bureau, An Garda Síochána, said: “The Garda enforcement strategy in 2019has clearly focused on the key Lifesaver Offences and to that end speeding intercept detections are up 48%, non-wearing of seatbelts up 27%, driver distraction offences (mobile phones) up 11% and Driving Under the Influence of an Intoxicant up 8%. While Garda enforcement is up, the figures being presented today demonstrate that driver behaviour has still some way to go for Ireland to achieve its objectives and build on the European Transport Safety Council Road Safety PIN Award, received in June 2019. We are urging motorists to slow down, be aware of speed limits, to drive at a speed appropriate to the road conditions and never ever drive while under the influence of an intoxicant. The ability of motorists to control their vehicle and to anticipate and avoid the unexpected is reduced when driving at higher speeds and driving while under the influence of an intoxicant. The members of the Roads Policing Unit will continue over the second half of 2019 to target non-compliant drivers, particularly key Lifesaver Offences, in order to make the roads safer for all.”

Professor Denis Cusack, Director of the Medical Bureau of Road Safety, said: “Alcohol still remains the most frequently detected intoxicant in driving. Cannabis is the next most frequently found drug with Cocaine overtaking Benzodiazepines to be the third most prevalent intoxicant detected in Irish drivers. Many of the drivers issued with a positive drug result certificate were also driving with alcohol in their system. Combinations of drugs (including some prescribable medicines) and of drugs and alcohol have more than an additive effect on a person’s ability to function normally and this can have a devastating effect on their driving which may result in serious injuries or death.”

He added that, “Some 1,200 new generation roadside preliminary breath testing devices have now been issued to the Gardaí. Since the introduction two years ago of roadside and Garda station drug testing of motorists by An Garda Síochána, 158 preliminary drug testing devices have been issued to the Gardaí and this has resulted in a significant increase in the number of drivers being arrested for driving under the influence of drugs and sample numbers analysed by the Bureau have increased by 40% on an annual basis.”

As of Thursday August 1, 89 people have been killed on Ireland’s roads, 6 more than the same period in 2018.
*the data covers the period January 1 – July 28, 2019 inclusive of both dates



The Provisional Review of Fatal Collisions from 1 January to 28 July 2019* also found that:

  • Road deaths have increased by 7% when compared to figures for the same period last year
  • The highest number of fatalities among all road users occurred in Dublin (9) followed by Tipperary (8) and Cork (7)
  • There has been an increase in deaths amongst drivers 49 (+11) and motorcyclists 9 (+2).
  • There has been a reduction in fatalities amongst passengers 10 (-2), pedestrians 15 (-3) and cyclists 6 (-2)
  • The highest risk age group of road users killed was 66 years and older, there was an increase in fatalities (+5) in those aged 66+ in 2019 vs 2018
  • To date in 2019, 40% of fatalities happened on Sunday and Monday
  • There were 46 fatalities between 2pm and 9:59pm. There was a 56% fall in fatalities between midnight and 5:59am.


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