Fears have been raised that progress made on improving road safety has stalled after new figures showed a 7% increase in road deaths this year.
Eighty-nine people died on Irish roads between January and July 28, six more than in the same period last year, according to statistics released by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and the Garda on Thursday.
RSA chief executive Moyagh Murdock described the figures as “alarming”.
“Clearly, the progress we have made in road safety over the last two years is at risk of stalling,” she said.
The figures were published ahead of the August bank holiday weekend.
They showed that 49 drivers, 10 passengers, 15 pedestrians, nine motorcyclists and six pedal cyclists were killed in the first seven months of the year.
The review found the majority of road deaths occur in rural areas, with Sunday being the most dangerous day on the road.
Most of the deaths occurred in Dublin, Tipperary and Cork, and there were none in Cavan or Longford.
Ms Murdock added: “The vast majority of deaths and injuries on our roads are preventable. If we want to prevent any more tragedies on our roads, we need to focus our attention on where the greatest risk is. The review presented today shows that this is at weekends, and particularly on a Sunday.
“We are asking road users to take greater care at these times and we want to see more targeted enforcement by An Garda Siochana at weekends if we are to reverse this worrying increase in 2019.”
Transport Minister Shane Ross said the figures showed that progress on road safety was not guaranteed.
“We need to be constantly vigilant and continue to focus on reducing risky behaviours on our roads,” he said.
“Without the work of many stakeholders, we will see a reversal of our positive trajectory and we cannot allow that to happen.”
RSA chairwoman Liz O’Donnell said: “Looking to the rest of the year, it is vital that we don’t lose focus on the need for greater enforcement to tackle the main killer behaviours on the road.
“Key to this is the appropriate resourcing and investment in the roads policing unit.”
"Alcohol still remains the most frequently detected intoxicant in driving. Cannabis is the next most frequently found drug with Cocaine...the third most prevalent intoxicant detected in Irish drivers" Professor Denis Cusack, Medical Bureau of Road Safety #RoadSafetyProgressReview pic.twitter.com/8Dlki0UIna— RSA Ireland (@RSAIreland) August 1, 2019
Assistant Commissioner David Sheahan, of the Garda National Roads Policing Bureau, said enforcement was up but the figures demonstrated that “driver behaviour has still some way to go for Ireland to achieve its objectives”.
“We are urging motorists to slow down, be aware of speed limits, to drive at a speed appropriate to the road conditions, and never, ever drive while under the influence of an intoxicant,” he said.
Alcohol remained the most frequently detected intoxicant in driving, followed by cannabis, cocaine, and benzodiazepines.
Many of the drivers issued with a positive drug result certificate were also driving with alcohol in their system.- Press Association