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President Higgins hosts reception to mark World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims

Date: Fri 17th Nov, 2023 | 16:14

The President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, will this afternoon host a special reception at Áras an Uachtaráin to mark World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims.

Those in attendance will include approximately 100 family members of those who have lost their lives on our roads, as well as a number of people who have sustained serious injuries.

Representatives of some of the many organisations working and campaigning to prevent road traffic accidents, as well as services which are assisting people injured on the roads, will also be in attendance.

The event will be addressed by President Higgins and by the Chairperson of the Road Safety Authority (RSA), Liz O’Donnell. The President and Ms O’Donnell will light a candle in memory of all those who have lost their lives on our roads.

Other groups in attendance will include the Irish Road Victims’ Association (IRVA), Blood Bikes, An Garda Síochána, the Department of Transport, the Medical Bureau of Road Safety, paramedics, the Dublin Fire Service, the National Rehabilitation Centre, and Acquired Brain Injury Ireland.

Father Michael Toomey, a chaplain in CBS High School in Clonmel who presided at the funerals of those killed in the tragic accident in the town on Leaving Cert results night in August, will also be present.

In a statement, President Higgins said:

“We come together today to remember and honour the memories of those 24,998 of our fellow citizens and visitors who have been killed on our roads since records began in 1959.

It is an important opportunity to acknowledge the families and loved ones of those who have been lost, and to share with them in recognising the devastating impacts that road deaths and serious injuries have on communities. It is also an opportunity to recognise how, despite their immense grief and pain, so many have found the strength to advocate for safer roads and fewer casualties across the island.

It is clear that a number of factors are at play with regard to fatalities from road traffic collisions. Clearly, driver speed is a key factor, as is the condition of vehicles and drivers under the influence of drink or drugs. We must also acknowledge that the quality of the roads and roadsides themselves must be ensured, with appropriate provision for safety for pedestrians and cyclists.

The reality is that many housing developments across the country have been built without adequate basic infrastructure of safety, such as footpaths and cycle lanes, and in some cases there are very few safe places for people to walk or cycle in rural areas – even to walk to the local shop or walk their dog.

Analysis from the RSA shows that there were 43 pedestrians killed on Irish roads in 2022, with pedestrians accounting for the largest share of victims in urban areas. Analysis of the figures for this year indicates that pedestrian fatality figures for 2023 are estimated to be their highest in 15 years. The winter months are particularly dangerous for pedestrians.

The simple fact of taking a stroll on an evening has now become dangerous – at a time when we hope that people will choose to leave their cars at home both for environmental and personal wellbeing reasons. The truth is that for many, including children, it is too dangerous to use the roads as either a pedestrian or a cyclist. This must change.

Local Authorities have a crucial role to play in making roads and roadsides as safe as possible for all those who use them.

Let us all work together to ensure that no family has to mourn the loss of a loved one from a road traffic collision. Let us demonstrate the solidarity required to deliver this future, with a shared urgency and determination.”

Liz O’Donnell, Chairperson of the RSA, said:

“Now is an important time to reflect on what has been a very difficult year. Too many families have been devastated by road trauma and the loss or serious injury to a loved one.  As we look to 2024, we in the RSA are determined to reverse the upward trend in road crashes. We have made great progress in road safety in the past and we can do it again if we all commit to it by being aware and vigilant and taking responsibility for the safety of other road users.“

Sam Waide, Chief Executive of the RSA, said:

“As we gather to mark World Day of Remembrance, we pause to reflect on the lives tragically lost and communities profoundly affected by road trauma. Each statistic represents a human story, a family forever changed. Today, we reinforce our commitment to road safety, recognising that every life is precious and every loss preventable. Together, we must continue to work tirelessly towards creating safer roads and communities, ensuring such tragedies become a thing of the past. Our thoughts are with all those who have been impacted, and we pledge to honour their memories through our actions and ensuring we use the roads responsibly.”




Notes to Editors:

The President’s full speech from the event will be available this afternoon.

The World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims takes place on the third Sunday of November each year. Today’s event is taking place ahead of Sunday’s World Day. The family members in attendance, as well as those suffering from injuries sustained in accidents, were nominated by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and the Irish Road Victims’ Association (IRVA).

The Day of Remembrance was first held in 1993 in the United Kingdom and was created as a means to give recognition to victims of road traffic crashes and the plight of their loved ones who must cope with the emotional and practical consequences of these events. In 2005, the United Nations declared ‘World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims’ as a global day to be observed every third Sunday in November each year.

24,998* people have died on roads since Ireland began recording fatalities in 1959. Since 1977, when injury records began, 88,284* people have been seriously injured. [*Note, figures are provisional and subject to change. Fatality figures are for the years 1959 to 17 Nov 2023. Serious injury figures are for 1977 to 12 Nov 2023.]

Data from the RSA shows that in 2023:

  • Fatalities are at their highest level in the past six years;
  • The number of fatalities among passengers, pedestrians and motorcyclists is increasing;
  • There is an average of 16 fatalities per month;
  • Over a quarter were aged 16-25 years;
  • Almost half (46%) were aged 35 years or less;
  • Almost half (49%) of fatalities between Friday and Sunday;
  • 7 in 10 fatalities took place on rural roads, with a speed limit of 80km/h or greater.

Provisional RSA data has further revealed that between 2018 and 2022, there were approximately 10 serious injuries for every fatality on Irish roads. To date in 2023, there have been over 900 people seriously injured on the roads in Ireland.