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2021 Records Lowest Number of Road Fatalities Since Recording Began in 1959

Research 01.01.2022


Figures updated as of 23 January 2022. Please note for the most up to date fatality information for 2021 please click here

  • 7% drop in road deaths in 2021 compared to 2020
  • 19 pedestrian deaths in 2021 the lowest figure since records began
  • Males accounted for almost three quarters of all deaths in 2021
  • Tragic end to 2021 a reminder of just how fragile life is on the road  

Provisional road collision statistics show that the number of road deaths in Ireland in 2021 dropped to a record low, making it the safest year since road deaths were first recorded in 1959. 

A total of 136 people died in 123 fatal road collisions in 2021 compared to 146 deaths in 135 fatal road collisions in 2020. This represents 10 fewer deaths or a 7% drop in road fatalities compared to last year*. The figures were published by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) today Saturday 1 January 2022, following an analysis of provisional fatal collision reports by An Garda Síochána.  

The figures also indicate that while 19 pedestrians were killed in 2021, this is the lowest number of pedestrian deaths over the last 25 years (a breakdown by road users is only available since 1996).

There were increases in fatalities among both drivers (71, +10) and motorcyclists in 2021 (22, +5). Provisional figures for serious injuries indicate that 1,091 serious injuries were recorded up to the 21 December 2021 compared to 1,105 in 2020.

Commenting on the country’s road safety performance in 2021 Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Hildegarde Naughton said; “It is very welcome news that there has been a reduction in the number of road deaths and serious injuries this year. I want to thank road users for making it a safer year, especially after 2020 was such a bad year for road safety. However, I am conscious that this news will come as cold comfort to those who have been injured and the families left grieving the loss of a loved one. It reminds us that one death or serious injury is one too many. This is reflected in the ambition of the recently launched Government Road Safety Strategy 2021 to 2030, ‘Our Journey Towards Vision Zero’. It aims to reduce deaths and serious injuries by 50% over the next decade and achieve no deaths or serious injuries on the road by 2050.”

Ms Liz O’Donnell, Chairperson of the RSA said, “The reduction in road deaths this year means that lives have been saved. While we never know who these people are, it is important that the road using public know that because of their choices and actions, fewer families had to deal with road trauma in 2021. However, as the past week has shown tragedy on the road can occur in a split second, we all need to be aware of just how fragile our lives are and take extra care on the road.”

Ms. O’Donnell added, “Looking at the provisional road collision data it’s encouraging to see that there were decreases in the number of passenger, pedestrian, and cyclist deaths this year. However, the increase in the number of driver deaths and motorcyclist deaths is a cause for concern. The number of serious injuries is also of concern. For every road death in 2021 there were over eight people seriously injured. Prevention of serious injuries needs to be a focus for us all next year. Given that 74% of all road deaths were male, we must continue to target interventions at this group. It is vital that we continue the downward trend across all road user categories in 2022 and beyond. The priority for us all, government departments, agencies, industry, representative bodies, and individuals is to embrace the shared responsibility that’s at the heart of the new road safety strategy.”

Assistant Commissioner Paula Hilman, Garda Roads Policing and Community Engagement said, “I want to take this opportunity to thank the majority of law abiding road users who acted responsibly in 2021 and to the road users who supported the road safety initiatives of An Garda Síochána and the RSA. Regrettably, there are some drivers who continue to put not only their own lives but the lives of other road users at risk.”

During the course of 2021:

  • Over 175,000 drivers were detected committing speeding offences; 
  • Over 23,000 detected using a mobile while driving;
  • Almost 8,800 arrests were made for driving under the influence of an intoxicant
  • Over 7,000 were detected for seatbelt offences.
  • Over 7,500 unaccompanied learner drivers were detected.

Assistant Commissioner Hilman continued, “As we look to 2022, I want to reaffirm our commitment that roads policing and road safety will continue to be a core objective in the Annual Policing Plan of An Garda Síochána. We will continue to focus on the main life saver offences of speeding, driving under the influence of an intoxicant, non-wearing of seatbelts, using a mobile while driving and learner drivers driving unaccompanied.”

Sam Waide, Chief Executive, RSA said “A decrease in road deaths and serious injuries is welcome, yet we must not accept 136 lives lost and 1,091 serious injuries on our roads. The majority of collisions are preventable. Following the recent launch of the new government road safety strategy, Ireland has now embraced ‘Vision Zero’. We have all signed up to eliminate road deaths and serious injuries by 2050, and in the immediate term to 2030, reduce deaths and serious injuries by 50%. It is critical that we build on the progress achieved in road safety this year. We must not become complacent or let this year become a chance occurrence. It can be done; it must be done. The strategy is our pathway to do so. Working together, with the required funding, we need to continue the implementation of the 50 high impact actions that have been identified for delivery in the first Action Plan of the new government Road Safety Strategy.”

The Provisional Report on Road Casualty Statistics for 2021 can be found on the RSA website. A ‘County by County’ breakdown of road deaths in 2021 compared to 2020 is provided in Table 3 below and a map infographic is also available here

*Please note, figures are provisional and subject to change.


Table 1. Road User Fatalities as of 31 December 2021* versus 2020

Road User20202021Difference

2020 and 2021 data is provisional and subject to change.

Key Headline Statistics from the Review of Road Safety in 2021

  • As of 31 December 2021, there have been 123 fatal collisions, which have resulted in 136 fatalities on Irish roads.
  • This represents 12 less fatal collisions and 10 less deaths (-7%) compared to provisional Garda data for 2020.
  • Of fatalities, 24% occurred on an urban road and 76% occurred on a rural road.
  • Over half of fatalities were aged between 16 and 45 years (55%)
  • Of fatalities, 74% (100) were male and 26% (36) were female.
  • April (18), July (17), December (19) and August (22) had the highest number of fatalities.
  • Tuesday (24) was the most dangerous day in 2021, followed by Thursday (22), Monday (21) and Saturday (21).
  • 49% of fatalities occurred between 2pm and 10pm
  • Dublin (21), Meath (14), Galway (12), and Tipperary (11) had the highest number of fatalities (42% of total)

Table 2. Road Deaths in Ireland 1959 to 2021

YearNo. Road Deaths YearNo. Road Deaths
1959306 1990478
1960302 1991445
1961332 1992415
1962339 1993431
1963335 1994404
1964341 1995437
1965356 1996453
1966382 1997472
1967416 1998458
1968447 1999413
1969462 2000415
1970540 2001411
1971576 2002376
1972640 2003335
1973592 2004374
1974594 2005396
1975586 2006365
1976525 2007338
1977583 2008279
1978628 2009238
1979614 2010212
1980564 2011186
1981572 2012163
1982533 2013188
1983535 2014192
1984465 2015162
1985410 2016182
1986387 2017155
1987462 2018137
1988463 2019140
1989460 2020146

*As of Monday  24 January 2022

2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 data is provisional and may be subject to change.

Table 3. Breakdown of road deaths by county 2021 v 2020

Dublin 2021

Data is provisional and may be subject to change.