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Majority of road deaths occur on Rural Roads in 2021

Road Users 26.07.2021
  • Vulnerable Road Users account for almost half of serious injuries
  • RSA survey shows dangerous behaviours increasing
  • An Garda Síochána issue 88,327 Fixed Charge Notices for speeding in first half of 2021
  • Shift in dangerous time zones on Irish roads seen in 2021
  • Ireland drops from second to fifth safest in European road safety table

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) and An Garda Síochána have today published a provisional review of progress in road safety up to 15 July, 2021*. The review shows that from 1 January to 15 July, 2021, 65 people died on Irish roads in 60 collisions. This represents 12% fewer collisions and 12% fewer deaths compared to provisional Garda data for the same period in 2020.

A significant majority of fatalities happened outside of urban areas, with 82% of deaths occurring on rural roads with a speed limit of 80km/h or higher. The review also found that 406 people were seriously injured in collisions. Further analysis shows that pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists accounted for almost half of all serious injuries (199).

The time between 12noon and 4pm was the riskiest on Irish roads, accounting for 31% of fatalities to date this year. There were 59% fewer road user fatalities occurring between midnight and 8am compared to the same period in 2020. The number of fatalities occurring at the weekend decreased by a quarter versus last year.

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Ms. Hildegarde Naughton said: “Any reduction in lives lost on Irish roads is to be welcomed; however, the increase in fatalities on rural roads is very concerning.  Behavioural changes due to the pandemic, such as remote working, are visible in the collision patterns this year.

The traditional rush hour periods are less pronounced in the road safety statistics compared to pre Covid-19 and we have seen a huge drop in collisions happening overnight.  The riskiest time on our roads is now in the middle of the day and evening.

With our roads busier than ever as people holiday across the island, we all need take care and be mindful of other road users on every trip.”

Mr Sam Waide, Chief Executive, Road Safety Authority said: “While road deaths may be down this year, it should be viewed against an increase in deaths in 2020. Deaths fell in most European countries due to the Covid-19 pandemic last year, but not in Ireland. As a result, Ireland has slipped from second safest country in the EU 27 to fifth.”

“Our own research is telling us that one factor behind this is a deterioration in road user behaviour. The Driver Attitudes & Behaviour Survey  which we conducted late last year revealed more drivers admitting to speeding in 50km and 100km speed zones. It also showed an increase in motorists texting while driving plus driving while fatigued and nodding off while behind the wheel.

This research confirms what our colleagues in An Garda Síochána are seeing in reality on the roads, with many drivers taking unnecessary risks. More drivers and motorcyclists have been killed on the road in 2021, so I’m asking everyone who gets behind the wheel to slow down and stay focused, especially as traffic volumes increase and return to normal levels in the coming months,” concluded Mr. Waide.

Chief Superintendent Mick Hennebry, Garda National Roads Policing Bureau, An Garda Síochána said: “Firstly, I want to thank the majority of road users for their generally high levels of compliance with road traffic legislation and speed limits. We know however that speed is a factor in one third of fatal collisions in Ireland and unfortunately, we continue to see a minority of motorists drive at speeds in excess of the legal limit on our roads. Last year, An Garda Síochána issued 181,263 Fixed Charge Notices to motorists for speeding and we are seeing detections continue to rise across 2021.”

Chief Superintendent Hennebry continued: “We want everyone to enjoy their Bank Holiday weekend so are asking people to consider the safety of all road users and support An Garda Síochána in our efforts to keep all people safe, particularly as we focus on speeding and other life-saver offences this holiday weekend.  If you are heading on staycation this weekend, please leave yourself plenty of time to get to your destination. Take breaks and if you feel tired, pull over. Make sure that caravans and other loads are properly secured before you start your journey. Finally, we would appeal to motorists visiting tourist spots and beaches to park legally and be mindful of emergency vehicles requiring access to such areas.”

The RSA and An Garda Síochána’s review of road safety covering the period January 1 – July 15, 2021 is available here.

To date in 2021, a total of 71 people have died on Irish roads, 7 less than the same period in 2020.


Review of fatal and serious injury collisions from January 1 to July 15 2021 found that;

  • Up to (and including) 15 July 2019, 38 drivers, 6 passengers, 7 pedestrians, 12 motorcyclists and 2 pedal cyclists have been killed on Irish roads
  • 60% reduction in fatalities between midnight and 8am; 18% increase in road deaths during the hours of 12noon and 4pm
  • 25% decrease in the number of fatalities occurring at the weekend compared to 2020
  • April was the worst month for road fatalities with 19 deaths – road traffic volumes were 170% higher in April 2021 vs April 2020
  • 29% reduction in those killed aged 56 and older
  • Fifty-three fatalities (82%) occurred on rural roads with a speed limit of 80km/h or higher
  • The highest number of fatalities among all road users occurred in Dublin (11) with five counties (Leitrim, Claire, Offaly, Laois, Carlow) having no deaths during the period examined
  • There has been an increase in deaths amongst drivers 38 (+9) and motorcyclists 12 (+3).
  • There has been a reduction in fatalities amongst passengers 6 (-5), pedestrians 7 (-12) and cyclists 2 (-2)
  • 75% of fatalities were male (49) and 25% of fatalities (16) were female
  • 406 people were seriously injured up to the 30 June 2021. 157 drivers, 50 passengers, 85 cyclists, 58 pedestrians and 56 motorcyclists were seriously injured.