A report from the Road Safety Authority (RSA) reveals that 983 fatal collisions occurred on the roads between 2008 and 2012, claiming the lives of 1,077 people.
The forensic details of 867 fatal collisions were analysed to identify the cause of each collision. Of these, excessive speed for the road and conditions was a main contributory factor in one in three (274) fatal collisions claiming the lives of 322 people. A further 74 people were seriously injured.
The report is the second in a series of reports which examine An Garda Síochána forensic collision investigation reports in order to identify the main contributory factors in collisions.
It also revealed that, of the 322 people killed in speed-related collisions, 158 were drivers; 49 were motorcyclists; and 100 were passengers. A total of 109 of the drivers were killed in single-vehicle collisions.
The counties where speed featured most as a contributory factor in collisions were Donegal (8.4%), Cork (8%), Wexford (8%), Cavan (7%), and Galway (7%). Weekends were found to be a high-risk period for speed-related collisions.
Nine out 10 of the culpable drivers were male, while more than half of the drivers, both male and female, were aged between 16 and 24.
One third had no record of insurance at the time of the collision.
In terms of the standard of vehicle involved in the accidents: 29 ranged from being defective to poor/fair, while 11 were found to be dangerously defective.
Commenting on the report, which was launched at the RSA’s annual international road safety conference, chairwoman, Liz O’Donnell, said speed was clearly contributing to many of the deaths that take place on Irish roads.
“The report published today, using data from An Garda Síochána forensic investigation files, shows that excessive speed plays a more significant role in collisions on our roads, accounting for one in three fatal collisions analysed between 2008 and 2012.”
“The faster you drive, the more likely you are to kill or seriously injure yourself or someone else if you are involved in a collision. Slow down — drive at a speed that is appropriate to the conditions and your experience, and remember a speed limit is not a target,” she said.
Ahead of the May bank holiday weekend, the RSA and An Garda Síochána are appealing to road users to slow down and not take any chances on the roads.
Chief Supt Aidan Reid said speeding is now the biggest killer on Irish roads and he advised drivers to think about the potentially tragic consequences of driving too fast.
“Excessive or inappropriate speed is the biggest killer on our roads. If you are driving too fast, your ability to react properly or safely to hazards is severely compromised. And if you are involved in a collision, the outcome could be tragic.
“There were 40,787 speeding detections in the first three months of this year. Speeding is not only illegal, it is dangerous and selfish. So please, think about the consequences of speeding the next time you get behind the wheel and reduce your speed accordingly,” he said.
The conference, which was held as part of the European Transport Safety Council, heard that 500 people are killed on EU roads every week.
It also looked at the use of intelligent speed assistance (ISA) as a measure to reduce speed on our roads. ISA uses a speed sign-recognition video camera and/or GPS-linked speed limit data to advise drivers of the current speed limit. The most advanced systems can automatically limit the speed of the vehicle as needed, though the driver is still able to override the system.