Provisional road traffic collision figures show that the number of road deaths in 2023 increased by 19% compared to 2022.
A total of 184 people died in 173 fatal collisions in 2023 compared to 155 deaths in 149 collisions in 2022. This represents an increase of 29 deaths or a 19% rise in road deaths compared to last year*.
The Road Safety Authority (RSA), following an analysis of provisional fatal collision reports from An Garda Síochána, reveal a high proportion of male fatalities, a continuation of 2022’s increased level of pedestrian fatalities and a high number of fatalities taking place at night when there is less traffic on the roads.
Top line statistics for 2023 include:
- The majority of fatalities were male 78% (144), and 22% (40) were female.
- The number of pedestrian fatalities is slightly above 2022 (+1). The last time there was a higher number of pedestrian fatalities was in 2011 (47).
- Almost half of fatalities occurred between 8pm and 8am, compared with 35% in 2022, despite lower traffic volumes during these hours.
- Over a quarter of fatalities were aged 16-25 years, compared with 16% in 2022.
- Almost half (46%) of fatalities occurred between Friday and Sunday, where known.
- There were 34 passenger fatalities in 2023, representing 18% of the total road deaths that occurred in 2023.
Of the 184 road deaths in 2023, 69 were drivers, 44 were pedestrians, 34 were passengers, 26 were motorcyclists, 8 were cyclists and 3 were e-scooter users. Compared to 2022, there has been an increase in fatalities among all road user groups: drivers (+11), passengers (+12), motorcyclists (+3), pedal cyclists (+1), pedestrians (+1) and other road users (+1).
Tipperary (16), Dublin (15), Cork (15), Galway (13), Mayo (12) were the counties that recorded the highest number of deaths, accounting for 39% of the total fatalities. (See table below for breakdown of fatalities by county).
Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Jack Chambers, said: “2023 has been a heart-breaking and devastating year on Irish roads for so many families and communities all over Ireland. Our thoughts are with all those impacted as we head into a new year. We were able to progress a number of important reforms in 2023 which are specifically targeted at the lifesaver offences which we know are the main contributors to fatal road collisions. The Road Traffic Bill received cabinet approval in December and we will be working to have this essential piece of legislation progressed through the Dáil in early 2024. Work is well underway on a number of other initiatives in partnership with other Government departments and agencies to be delivered throughout this year. I would also like to pay tribute and special thanks to our emergency services and first responders who do incredible lifesaving work in the most challenging circumstances.”
Liz O’Donnell, Chairperson, RSA said: “It is with great sadness that we acknowledge the tragic loss of life on Ireland’s roads in 2023. We have had a difficult year in road safety. People are carrying huge grief with them; a grief that doesn’t go away and a void that cannot be filled in their lives. Any one life lost is one too many.
“We must do more, and I welcome the proposed introduction of a National Strategy on Camera Based Enforcement which, I understand, will be prioritised in 2024. A National Strategy will ensure a consistent approach to the selection and use of the different forms of camera technologies as well as supporting the development of a roadmap for the rollout of camera-based enforcement and ensuring that enablers such as funding and other critical resources are identified.”
Mr Sam Waide, Chief Executive, RSA, said: “Weekends, late nights and early mornings have been high risk periods throughout the year. Despite lower traffic volumes, these timeframes feature high numbers of collisions. The evidence suggests that these periods present greater risks in terms of driver behaviours like drink and drug-driving and fatigue. We are targeting these behaviours with new awareness and education initiatives, such as the SAY IT campaign which commenced two weeks ago.”
Chief Superintendent Jane Humphries, Garda National Roads Policing Bureau (GNRPB), said: “We foremost think of each one of the families and friends that have been left devastated by the loss of a loved one on Irish roads in 2023. When a person is killed or seriously injured in a road traffic collision it has a lasting impact on so many in our communities.
“Throughout the past twelve months, Gardaí nationwide have remained focused on detecting those committing the offences known and proven to be leading factors in serious injury and fatal road traffic collisions. This year, Gardaí conducted over 87,700 checkpoints. Some 7,707 people were arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of an intoxicant. In the region of 200,000 speeding offences were detected, over 5,300 fixed penalty notices were issued for not wearing a seatbelt and more than 18,800 motorists were fined by Gardaí for using their mobile phone.
“These figures demonstrate that, while the majority of road users support our collective work to keep people safe by adhering to the rules of the road, there are still plenty that need to reflect on their driving behaviours. There is room for improvement. As we head into 2024, we must all pay close attention to our collective responsibility to make Irish roads safer and to reduce the number of lives lost and people seriously injured in road traffic collisions.”
The RSA has updated its media strategy in recent years to ensure there is effective cut through to target audiences. It is significantly increasing investment in digital channels – including social channels and digital video – and messaging customised for such channels to reach target audiences in an increasingly fragmented media landscape.
In December the RSA launched a high-impact partnership campaign with some of Ireland’s top media companies. The SAY IT campaign encourages family members and friends to speak to loved ones about dangerous driving behaviours, such as using a mobile phone, driving too fast or not wearing a seatbelt. The campaign will run for three months across national and regional radio stations, as well as national newspapers and social media activities.
In January, the annual road safety review will be held to identify key priorities for 2024, involving all key government agencies on the Road Safety Transformation Partnership Board, in addition to the Minister responsible for Road Safety.