A Provisional Review of Road Crashes for 2014, published by the Road Safety Authority indicates that for the second consecutive year, deaths resulting from road traffic collisions have increased. A total of 196 people have lost their lives in 2014, compared to 190 in 2013, a 3% rise. Eleven people died in Donegal. A 12th person who died did so more than a month after the crash in Letterkenny and wasn’t counted in the official statistics.
Nationally it represents a 21% increase when compared to the 162 road deaths that occurred in 2012, the safest year on Irish roads.
Ms. Liz O’Donnell, Chairperson, RSA, said, “196 precious lives ended on our roads in 2014. That’s 6 more than last year. These people are gone forever. For their loved ones they are not consigned to year end statistics.”
Appealing to all road users Ms. O’Donnell added, “There are small changes we all can make which are guaranteed to prevent collisions. Guaranteed to reduce consequences. And to reduce the number of tragedies on our roads, from the very moment we begin to make those changes. So I appeal to all road users in 2015. Even if you change one aspect of your behaviour, be it speeding, not using a mobile phone, always wearing a seatbelt, or just being more careful and courteous to others, you can help make the roads safer for all of us. Small things can make a huge difference.”
The report shows that there has been a worrying 24% increase in the number of vulnerable road users killed, compared to 2013. Four out of ten of those who died in 2014 were either a pedestrian, a cyclist or a motorcyclist. Of most significance is the increase in pedestrian fatalities (up from 31 to 42) and an increase in cyclist fatalities (up from 5 to 12). Though still high, there has been a decline in the number of motorcycle user deaths, down from 27 in 2013 to 24 in 2014.
Analysis of vulnerable road user casualties shows that there is a higher rate of fatalities among younger and older people. Those aged 60+ account for 40% of all pedestrian deaths. There were eight pedestrian deaths among those aged up to 15.
The greatest change observed in 2014 is a 17% reduction in driver fatalities, down from 95 to 79. However, this decline is off-set by a 22% increase in passenger deaths, up from 32 to 39.
Provisional figures show that, where known, 16% of drivers were not wearing a seatbelt. A shocking 26% of passengers killed were not wearing a seatbelt.
There was a doubling in the number of fatalities among children. 16 children aged up to 15 years lost their lives in 2014, eight were pedestrians and eight were passengers.
While the Southern region accounted for the largest proportion of road deaths, Dublin recorded the biggest increase in fatalities (47%) in 2014.
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Mr Paschal Donohoe, commenting on the end of year report said “I am very concerned that so many lives have been lost on the roads in 2014, in particular the high number of young and older people, who are the most vulnerable members of our community. Together we can reverse this trend and ensure that 2015 becomes a safer time to use the road. For my part I am determined to work with all the agencies signed up to the Government’s Road Safety Strategy to see if there are measures that can be fast-tracked to bring this about. However, while Government and state bodies need to redouble their efforts, each individual needs to make a firmer commitment to practice safer road habits in the New Year. I would like to make a particular appeal and ask drivers to be more careful and mindful of vulnerable road users, in turn I would ask these vulnerable road users to take greater steps to ensure they can be seen when using the road, and appreciate that they too need to follow the rules of the road.”
RSA Chief Executive, Moyagh Murdock, said that “the priority areas for action in 2015, for the RSA will be to focus communications on vulnerable road user safety and distracted driving. This will include getting back to basics with messages such as how to cross the road safely and wearing high visibility material to be seen on the road. Drivers too need to pay greater attention to their speed particularly in urban areas, as this pre-crash factor has the biggest impact on vulnerable road users. Currently 82% of drivers are exceeding the 50km/h speed limit in urban national areas. Distracted driving will also be a priority for the RSA in 2015 given the fact that a recent RSA observational study indicates the number of people talking or texting on the phone while driving is getting worse. A shocking 1 in 12 drivers are using their phone while driving.”
Commenting on the end of year road casualty statistics Assistant Garda Commissioner, John Twomey said, “2014 was a tragic year for the families and friends of the 196 people who lost their lives on our roads. An Garda Síochána is fully committed to playing its part in improving road safety, ensuring that the roads in this country are a safe and secure place for all our road users. In 2014 An Garda Síochána increased detections for the key “lifesaver” offences – speeding, non-wearing of seatbelts and using a mobile phone while driving. I can also assure road users that An Garda Síochána will be putting in place a comprehensive roads policing plan in 2015. This plan will target the main causes of road crashes, and place a particular focus on the growing use of mobile phones while driving.”