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Are Irish Roads Getting Safer or More Dangerous?

Date Published 02.05.2014
Topic Car Insurance

Are Irish Road Safer or More Dangerous


Last year, Irish road deaths increased for the first time since 2005. Until then, fatalities on Irish roads were decreasing every year. So what caused this unexpected rise in 2013?


When Ireland started taking record of road deaths in 1959, it soon became apparent that fatalities were increasing every year. In the space of 13 years they almost doubled from 306 in 1959 to 640 in 1972. Over the seventies the number fluctuated but never went below 500 thus making the seventies the most dangerous period for Irish roads since records began. The government decided to take action and concentrate efforts on preventing road deaths. The average fatalities per decade decreased from 588 in the seventies to 485 in the eighties, 441 in the nineties, 353 in the naughties, to an average of 179 in this decade so far.


Where Did We Go Wrong in 2013?


2013 put a black mark on our every improving record sheet. Why did we jump from 162 deaths in 2012 to 190 in 2013?

One thing that stood out was the number of motorcycle fatalities. Motorcyclist deaths almost doubled (up 44%) from 16 in 2012 to 27 in 20131. This could be due to the bad weather at the beginning of the year, but it could also be because of the good weather. The Communications Manager for the RSA, Brian Farrell said that the good spells of weather that we had may have brought more bikers out on to the roads1.    


Another reason for the increase in road deaths could have been due to cuts in law enforcement. Budget restrictions meant that the Garda traffic unit had access to fewer resources for law enforcement in 2013. Gay Byrne, the chairman of the RSA, said the traffic corps was down from 1200 people in 2010 to 800 in 20131. However this argument was counteracted by the Leo Varadkar, the Minister for Transport, who said that there is no direct correlation between the number of gardaí and road deaths because in 2010 there were more gardaí but there were also more road deaths2. Whatever caused the 2013 increase, every effort must be made to prevent the number from rising again in 2014.


So How Can We Improve?


Irish people need to learn to adapt to our increasingly variable weather. We need to learn how to drive in high winds and learn that roads are particularly slippery when rained on after a long period of dryness. We also need to learn when to say ‘it’s too dangerous to drive today.’ The usual advice still applies: slow down, put away the mobile phone, wear your seat belt, stop drinking and driving. The responsibility needs to be placed on pedestrians and cyclists too to wear high visibility jackets and obey the rules of the road.


So are Irish Roads Getting Safer or More Dangerous?


Relative to the state of Irish roads in previous decades, Irish roads are getting safer. Today road deaths are a third of what they were in the seventies and they are half of what they were a decade ago. However, the upward turn in 2013’s figures remind us that we cannot become complacent and we still have work to do.




Average Fatalities per decade on Irish Roads
Average Fatalities per decade on Irish Roads - Data from the Road Safety Authority


Whatever road you're driving on, here's a reminder to make sure you have car insurance before you begin. At AIG, we offer low cost car insurance quotes with absolutely no administration fees, so if you need to talk to someone simply phone 1890 27 27 27 or go to for a quote today. 

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