2012 News

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03 January 2012

Road Deaths Fall Below 200 for the First Time

A total of 186 people tragically lost their lives on the road in 2011. Our thoughts and prayers are with the devastated families, friends and communities.

This is 26 fewer fatalities compared to 212 deaths last year and 52 fewer deaths compared to 2009 when 238 people lost their lives on the roads.  

Since the Road Safety Strategy 2007 to 2012 was introduced in 2007 road deaths have dropped by 50%. When compared to the year before the introduction of the first ever road safety strategy in 1998, deaths have fallen by 59%.

Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar said motorists should be proud of their achievement. “Safer motorists mean safer roads. People are alive today as a direct result of better driver behaviour. However, we must ensure that this good work continues, and I would ask all drivers to keep up the good work. For its part, the Government has made road safety a key priority. In the year gone by we have rolled out new drink driving levels and other significant measures. We will continue to launch new road safety measures in the years ahead including the new plastic drivers’ licence, enhanced commercial vehicle roadworthiness testing, and the publication of legislation to provide for preliminary impairment testing of drug drivers at the roadside. We will also make preparations for new penalty points.”  

Commenting on the release of the provisional figures Mr. Gay Byrne, Chairman, Road Safety Authority said, “Thank you. By changing the way you use the road you have saved more lives this year, 26 to be exact. Indeed in the past decade over a thousand lives have been saved the equivalent of the population of the town of Kilkee, Co. Clare, real people, real lives saved.”  

Mr. Byrne added, “However, one death is one too many and for the 186 families who lost a loved one on the road this year my words of praise ring hollow. Out of respect to those who have died and those who have been left grieving I would ask that you all please use the roads in 2012 with greater care. Life is fragile, it’s held by the thinnest of threads and it only takes a split second for that lifeline to be severed. We run a real risk of complacency and I call on all Government Departments and Agencies to work collaboratively and proactively to ensure that we do not see a worsening in Ireland’s road safety performance in 2012. Now more that ever, we require action, leadership and sustained effort. To do otherwise will lead to needless loss of life, horrific life altering injuries and unimaginable devastation for families, communities and friends ”.

Welcoming the record reduction in road fatalities, the Minister for Justice and Equality, Alan Shatter TD, said: "I very much welcome the record reduction in road traffic fatalities in 2011.  Enormous progress has been made in making our roads safer.  Having said that, every road death is a tragedy, and the Government is committed to building on the progress made.  In 2012 the Garda Síochána will continue their focus on enforcement of road traffic legislation, which has contributed so much to the improvements we are seeing.  Together with the other authorities, and with the cooperation of road users, the Garda Síochána will work towards making our roads safer and maintaining the excellent progress that has been made in saving lives and reducing injury." 

Reflecting on 2011 and looking forward to 2012 Assistant Garda Commissioner John Twomey the head of the Garda National Traffic Bureau firstly extended his sympathies to the families of all those who lost their lives on our roads in recent years. He stated that the very positive improvement in the behaviour of road users has along with other key factors led to less people losing their lives each year. Commissioner Twomey thanked all members of An Garda Síochána in particular the members of the Garda Traffic Corps for their dedication, often in difficult circumstances. The Commissioner also expressed his gratitude to members of the community for their support and commitment to making Irish roads safer by adjusting behaviour and showing greater respect to others.

The commitment of An Garda Síochána to enforcement and education will continue and we will use our positive working relationships with other agencies including the Road Safety Authority to ensure that a focused and harmonised approach will lead again in 2012 to improvements in road safety and the quality of everyone’s experience on our roads.  

RSA Chief Executive, Mr. Noel Brett, also paid tribute to the work of the Gardai and Emergency Services, “It is important, as we come to the end of another year, that we acknowledge and thank those on the front line in tackling the aftermath of all too many collisions. The Gardai, Ambulance and Paramedic crews, Fire Services Personnel, Nurses, Doctors and Carers who are responsible for ensuring we stay safe on the roads and for caring for those who have been affected by road trauma”.

“Undoubtedly, the real praise must go to individual the road users. Thanks to you and your choice to make the right decisions, not to drink or  take drugs and drive, to slow down, to wear seatbelts, to wear high visibility jackets while out walking or cycling, our communities have become safer places.”

“The Government Road Safety Strategy (2007-2012) has 126 actions grouped under the three “E’s” of Education, Enforcement and Engineering. Action under each of these areas has contributed to Ireland’s success but most importantly it has been the way in which the majority of road users have taken road safety to heart that has saved so many lives.”

Looking to 2012 Mr Brett said that the priority for the Road Safety Authority will be to begin work on the development of a new Road Safety Strategy. The current Road Safety Strategy comes to an end in 2012. We will increase the focus on reducing the number and severity of injuries and try to sustain the reductions in deaths achieved over the last six years. In that task we need the public’s help and support. Please make road safety top of your New Year’s resolutions. There is absolutely no reason why Ireland cannot be the very safest country in the EU.

Your actions have saved lives in 2011 and can save even more in 2012.

For further information, please contact:

The Communications Office, Road Safety Authority – 096 25008


Brian Farrell, Communications Manager, 086 – 3881009


Nick Miller, Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport, 086 6992080    

Notes to Editor

Road deaths dropped by 14% in 2011 compared to 2010.  A provisional breakdown of the fatality figures shows;

Table 1 Road Deaths by Road User Category 2011 Compared to 2010

Road User No. Fatalities 2011 % No. Fatalities 2010 % Difference
Pedestrian 45 24% 44 21% +1
Driver 82 44% 91 43% -9
Passenger 33 18% 55 26% -22
Motorcyclist 17 9% 17 8% -
Cyclist 9 5% 5 2% +4
Total 186 100% 212 100% -26

 Some of the key provisional statistics for 2011 include;

  • 34% of road deaths were under 25 years of age.
  • 49% of road deaths occurred at the weekend.
  • There was a significant reduction in the number of road deaths occurring on Sundays. 35 people lost their lives on a Sunday in 2011 compared to 54 deaths in 2010
  • The hours between 4pm and 6pm were the most dangerous, with 29 deaths (16%)
  • The average monthly fatality rate in 2011 was 15 compared to 18 in 2010 and 20 in 2009.
  • The safest month of the year was April when 9 deaths occurred. This is also the safety month ever recorded.
  • 131 or 70% of those killed on the roads were male.

Table 2. Road Deaths in Ireland 1959 to 2011

 Year No. Road Deaths
1959 306
1960 302
1961 332
1962 339
1963 335
1964 341
1965 356
1966 382
1967 416
1968 447
1969 462
1970 540
1971 576
1972 640
1973 592
1974 594
1975 586
1976 525
1977 583
1978 628
1979 614
1980 564
1981 572
1982 533
1983 535
1984 465
1985 410
1986 387
1987 462
1988 463
1989 460
1990 478
1991 445
1992 415
1993 431
1994 404
1995 437
1996 453
1997 472
1998 458
1999 413
2000 415
2001 411
2002 376
2003 335
2004 374
2005 396
2006 365
2007 338
2008 279
2009 238
2010 212
2011 186
Total 22,901


Figure 1. Road Deaths in Ireland 1959 to 2011



Figure 2. Road Deaths in Ireland 1959 to 2011


Figure 3. Average Monthly Fatalities 2006 to 2011




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