EVEN though it advised against complacency at the time, the Road Safety Authority’s flagging in early December of the likelihood that the number of fatalities on Irish roads in 2015 was on track to be less than the record low of 162 in 2012 obviously tempted fate, as provisional figures for last year indicated that there were 165 casualties of road traffic collisions. This resulted from the worst December for road deaths since 2007, as 20 people lost their lives, with 15 in the last two weeks of 2015 alone.
The Christmas and New Year period is a terrible time of year to lose a family member or friend because the memory will always be there at what is meant to be a time of celebration for people. That said, losing a loved one at any time of year is a terrible blow.
Overall, 2015 had the second-lowest number of road traffic collision fatalities since such statistics were first recorded in 1959. Back then, there were 306 fatalaties. The horrific peak was in 1972 when 640 people died on our roads.
Overall, since these records began, in the region of 23,500 people have died on Irish roads – the equivalent of the entire population of some of our larger towns. If one was to add the number of people who were injured in road traffic collisions over that period, it would be into the six-figure range and many of these injuries would have been life-changing, not only for those injured but also for families left with the lifelong legacy of having to care for them.
The provisional road casualty statistics for 2015 showed 15% fewer deaths than the previous year and 12% fewer fatal collisions, a welcome reversal of the upward trend that had started in 2013. The benchmark to get below still needs to be the record low of 2012 and every decrease after that needs to be constantly bettered.
Every death on our roads is one too many, but accidents will happen and trying to eliminate the causes is the only way to tackle them. Apart from cracking down on speeding and drink-drug driving, the wearing of safety belts and the distraction of drivers by mobile phones need to be tackled.
Cyclists and pedestrians also need to be more conscious about their safety and wear high-visibility vests and be sober when out on the roads. People responsibly using our roads is the key to reducing the unacceptable number of fatalities on them.