THERE were four road fatalities in Kildare from 1 January to 31 December 2019, according to provisional road collision statistics published by the Road Safety Authority (RSA), the same number of fatalities as recorded in the county in 2018.
Overall, a total of 148 people died on Irish roads last year, a 4% rise on 2018 (142) which was the safest recorded year. Casualty figures for 2019 show that, while there has been a sharp drop in pedestrian deaths (down 15 or 36% to 27) and passenger deaths (down 4 or 20% to 16), there has been a worrying increase in the number of drivers killed (up 25 or 45% to 81), compared to 2018.
While there was one more motorcyclist death recorded in 2019 (16) compared to the year previous (15), an overall analysis of vulnerable road user casualties shows that there was a 23% reduction in such fatalities.
“After recording the safest year on our roads in 2018 it is deeply saddening that not only have we lost 148 lives on the road in 2019, but that it represents an increase in road deaths,” said Liz O’Donnell, chairperson of the RSA. “We must respond to this increase the same way we have responded to previous setbacks. Rather than being disheartened it should spur us and our road safety partners into renewed effort.”
Ms O’Donnell noted that 2020 is the final year of the Government’s eight-year road safety strategy; its primary target to reduce deaths to 124 or fewer by the end of this year. Deeper collaboration, she said, is already taking place between all agencies responsible for road safety to ensure that everything that can be done is being done to reverse the increase in deaths in 2019 and to achieve the strategy target.
Meanwhile, RSA CEO Moyagh Murdock explained that this year they will ensure that their education and awareness plans target the main killer behaviours – priorities will be non-wearing of seatbelts and intoxicated driving.
“We will also focus on promoting the safety of vulnerable road users. Specifically by raising awareness of the new safe overtaking of cyclists law, focusing on motorcycle safety and commissioning a new pedestrian safety campaign,” she said.
“Another priority area for us in 2020 is learner drivers. We will continue to support garda enforcement of unaccompanied driving laws. In 2019 there were over 2,500 vehicles seized that were being driven by unaccompanied learner drivers. We will continue to target those who have been relying long-term on a learner permit. Driving test waiting times have never been lower with average waiting times of less than six weeks.”
According to An Garda Síochána, roads policing will remain a strategic priority this year and Assistant Commissioner Dave Sheehan has explained that two significant developments will happen to ensure they achieve high levels of visible, effective road safety enforcement. An extra 180 gardaí have been selected for assignment to roads policing duties in early 2020, while the roll-out of the new mobility app will be stepped up so that by the end of the year there will be more than 4,000 devices in the hands of frontline gardaí.
“Both additional frontline Garda resources and the greater enforcement capability of the mobility app will increase enforcement activity and help in reversing this year’s increase and achieving the road safety target,” he said.