Ciara Brady of the Road Safety Authority and JPC chair, John Paul Feeley.

JPC hears of road deaths on rise nationally

The number of road deaths as of December 2 this year had already surpassed the figure for the entirety of 2021, the Joint Policing Committee heard last week.

The details were outlined at Friday’s meeting by Ciara Brady, road safety promotion officer with the Road Safety Authority and reflected “a slight increase to date in 2022”. During the first 11 months of this year, there were 148 fatalities, compared to 137 during all of 2021.

Ms Brady also noted “December is always a very dangerous month on Irish roads” and added: “In the past seven days alone on Irish roads, there have been six people killed, so you can see how the trend has started to increase in 2022 again.”

Locally there were five road deaths in 2021, and the same number again this year to date. This general upward trend was also echoed in the roads update provided to the JPC by gardaí. There had been one fatality in the county since the last JPC meeting, when a pedestrian was knocked down on the R165 near Bailieborough. There were 22 serious road traffic injuries this year, as compared to 20 in the whole of last year; non-serious injuries were down from 79 to 62.

The recent increase in road fatalities ran contrary to the general trend of decline in road fatalities since 2006 when there were 365 deaths.

In 2021, Tuesday was statistically the most dangerous day of the week, and between 2-10pm the most dangerous time of the day, with Ms Brady explaining that the pandemic restrictions were a major factor in this.

However in 2022 the pre-Covid trends resumed with Friday now the most dangerous day of the week on Irish roads, and between midnight and 4am the most dangerous time.

“So unfortunately Irish roads are seeing a return to weekend and early morning hours of fatalities,” Ms Brady observed.

In both years the fatalities occurred most frequently on roads with 80km/hr speed limits, and the age group most at risk were 16-25 year olds.

She explained that the current Road Safety Strategy runs from 2021 to 2030 and aims to reduce fatalities by 50% within that ten year period. Phase one is from 2021-2024, which aims to reduce fatalities by 15% - ie, lower than 122.

Thanking Ciara for her “comprehensive” presentation, Cathaoirleach John Paul Feeley noted that “behind those statistics there are families”.

He noted previous discussions about protecting pedestrians and cyclists, but voiced his frustration at those who still fail to wear high viz vests.

He sensed a “growing militancy there almost” among some walkers/cyclists, saying “it’s up to you to see me”.

On the flip side drivers too could take simple precautions, said Cllr Feeley, observing the “amount of drivers who don’t simply turn on their lights”.

Chief Supt Alan McGovern also assured that gardaí had initiated high visibility patrols in the run up to Christmas.