THE Road Safety Officer with Mayo County Council has expressed his disappointment that road deaths in Mayo have trebled in the last 12 months.
A total of 158 people lost their lives on Ireland’s roads as a result of 143 fatal crashes, compared to 186 lives lost in 174 fatal crashes in 2016. This represents a 15 percent drop in deaths, and made 2017 the safest year on Irish roads since road deaths were first recorded in 1959.
However, the figure has gone in the opposite direction in Mayo, with 12 people losing their lives on the road in 2017, compared to four in 2016.
“It is very disappointing when you compare that the national figure is down by 15 percent and considering there was a big drop in the number of road deaths in Mayo in 2016,” Road Safety Officer Noel Gibbons told The Mayo News.
A review of road fatalities issued by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) showed that Mayo had the third worst roads safety record behind Cork with 14 deaths and Dublin with 23 deaths. Mayo also has the highest number of drivers and passengers to die in accidents with five drivers and five passengers among the fatalities.
Mr Gibbons said that while many of the fatal accidents are still under investigation, statistics show that speed remains the major cause of accidents, and he called for a change of driver and passenger attitudes.
“The most likely causes of accidents are down to speed, as well as other factors such as drink driving and using a mobile phone. There has to be a change in drivers’ behaviour, but passengers also need to speak up and tell someone who is going too fast to slow down or to not to use their phone while driving. Also, passengers should never get in a car driven by someone under the influence of drink or drugs.
“While all the focus is on the number of fatalities, we have to remember that for every one death there were eight people left with serious injuries, such as brain damage or spinal injuries, and 15 who suffer from minor injuries,” he said.
Sharing the road
The national figure for 2017 showed that while there was a decrease in fatalities among drivers, passengers, pedestrians and motorcyclists, there was a 50 percent increase in deaths among pedal cyclists.
Mr Gibbons said that there needs to be a greater mutual understanding between motorists and cyclists on sharing the road.
“Research shows that 40 percent of cycling deaths are caused by being hit from the rear. There needs to be a bit more understanding on both sides. Cyclists should cycle two abreast for safety reasons, and if there is a build up of traffic [they should cycle] in a single line to allow the traffic to pass. Drivers need to be more patient when overtaking and only do so when safe and not take chances. A scrape on a bumper could leave a cyclist disabled,” he said.
Moyagh Murdock, Chief Executive, RSA, pointed out that Ireland is still a long way off achieving its road safety targets as set out in the Government Road Safety Strategy 2013 to 2020.
“The strategy has set the task of making Ireland’s roads as safe as the best-performing countries in the European Union – specifically, to reduce road fatalities on Irish roads to 124 or fewer by 2020,” she explained.
“This means there must be a further 22 percent reduction in road deaths, on 2017 figures, over the next three years. While this will be a challenging target to achieve given our mixed road safety performance since 2013, it is one that we must all strive to achieve.”