Three people have died on the roads of Galway up to the middle of this month according to the Road Safety Authority, which warns that rural roads are becoming more unsafe.
Provisional data from the RSA and Gardaí on road traffic fatalities up to July 15 of this year show that the majority of deaths occur on rural roads.
In the first six and a half months of 2021 there were 65 people killed on Ireland’s roads, and of those 82% occurred on rural roads with a speed limit of 80km/hr or higher.
The 65 deaths came as a result of 60 separate collisions, representing a decrease of 12% in both deaths and collisions on the same period last year.
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).
Minister of State at the Department of Transport and Galway TD 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.”
The county with the highest number of road traffic fatalities was Dublin, with eleven, while Leitrim, Claire, Offaly, Laois, Carlow all had no deaths during the period reviewed.
There was a significant reduction in the number of pedestrians killed in traffic collisions, down by 12 on last year, and cyclist deaths were halved to two fatalities.
But the number of deaths among drivers increased by nine to 38 deaths this year, and the twelve motorcyclists killed is also an increase of three on 2020.
Sam Waide, Chief Executive of the RSA 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.”
Research by the RSA points the finger for this at driver behaviour, with more people admitting to speeding or texting while driving according to RSA surveys.
“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”.