Road fatalities increase in 2020 as Serious & Minor Injury Road Crashes reduce by 25%

  • Road fatalities increase by nine in 2020
  • Increase in passenger, pedestrian and cyclist deaths in 2020
  • Government Road Safety Strategy 2013 to 2020 comes to an end with Ireland second safest country in EU
  • Development of new Government Road Safety Strategy a key priority for 2021
  • New Strategy to embody ‘Vision Zero’ approach

Provisional road collision statistics for 2020 show that while the number of road fatalities increased by nine or 6% there were 1,407 fewer serious and minor injury collisions recorded, a 25% decrease compared to 2019+.

The provisional figures which were published by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) today Friday 1 January 2020, following an analysis of An Garda Síochána fatal collision reports show that up to 5pm on the 31 December 2020, a total of 149 people had lost their lives on Ireland’s roads as a result of 138 fatal crashes. This compares to 140 lives lost in 129 fatal crashes in 2019. A county by county breakdown of fatalities can be found here.

Commenting on road safety in 2020, Ms. Hildegarde Naughton, Minister for State at the Department of Transport said: “It has been a disappointing year for road safety. While we have seen a significant reduction in the number of serious and minor injury crashes, road deaths have increased. This is despite a reduction in traffic volumes for periods during the year due to the pandemic. However, we have had setbacks like this in the past. What’s important is how we respond. In the Programme for Government, road safety has been identified as a priority social issue. The development of the new Government Road Safety Strategy, which will span the next decade, is well underway and will have at its heart the ‘Vision Zero’. All deaths on our roads are preventable and no loss of life or injury should be tolerated or accepted as the price of our mobility. Starting in the new year, working together, Government agencies and public alike, we must begin the work of realising the vision of zero deaths on Ireland’s roads.”

Ms Liz O’Donnell, Chairperson of the RSA said: “I am saddened by the increase in road deaths, particularly following on from the two safest years on record for road fatalities in 2018 and 2019.  Overall, our strategy to reduce road trauma is working; Between 2013 and 2019, Ireland saw a 26% reduction in road traffic fatalities, compared to just a 6% reduction across the whole of the Eu-27 Ϯ. Thanks to the success of the current road safety strategy (2013 – 2020) and the compliance of road users Ireland is viewed as a leader in road safety and is ranked as second safest in the EU and fourth globally. It is important to acknowledge that many lives have been saved and the next strategy now being prepared will build on this progress.”

“The Government sets ambitious road safety targets so that it will drive everyone involved in road safety to work tirelessly to save lives and prevent injuries. The next Government Road Safety Strategy will be even more challenging. It will be committed to ‘Vision Zero’, that is zero deaths on Irish roads by 2050. I look forward to its publications in the coming months.”

Assistant Commissioner Paula Hilman, Roads Policing & Community Engagement, An Garda Síochána said: “An Garda Síochána is fully committed to working with all of our partners to ensure that Irish roads are a safe place for all road users. We will be working together to implement a comprehensive Roads Policing Plan in 2021 that targets the main causes of fatal and serious collisions on our roads and promotes good driver behaviour.  All members of An Garda Síochána will be playing their part, which will be led by our dedicated Roads Policing Units and the National Roads Policing Bureau.

Assistant Commissioner Hilman added that, “In these difficult times as we enter another period of high level restrictions, it is important to remember the driver behaviour patterns we witnessed during previous periods of high level restrictions, in particular, increases in speeding and drug driving.  These will be of particular focus during 2021. We will work with our partners, with the community and all road users to ensure we all play our part in improving road safety in the year ahead.” 

Mr. Sam Waide, Chief Executive, RSA said “Looking at the provisional analysis of road collisions for 2020, what is particularly worrying is the rise in the number of passenger deaths. While the Gardaí continue to analyse the circumstances of these incidents, we do know from past research that non wearing of a seatbelt can be a factor. Therefore, I would remind every person getting into a car to wear their seatbelt. As the recent RSA road safety campaign puts it ‘Every Time. Every Trip. Everybody. Belt Up. The rise in the number of people walking and cycling on the road this year because of the pandemic has taught us all that there is now a changed environment on our roads. A continued emphasis on social distancing in 2021, will mean that we will need to share the road carefully and as drivers not only look out for vulnerable road users but also reduce our speed.

For 2021 the RSA will ensure that our education and awareness plans target the main killer behaviours and that this is integrated with Garda enforcement plans. We will prioritise the non- wearing of seatbelts, speeding and drug driving.”

Sam added: “The RSA will also continue to coordinate the development of the next Government Road Safety Strategy. The strategy will embrace a ‘Vision Zero’ which will be practically delivered though the ‘Safe System’ approach. Road users will make mistakes and these mistakes need to be accommodated in road traffic system design to prevent crashes resulting in serious injury or death. The increase in fatalities is a stark reminder of the need for extraordinary interventions in the next Government Road Safety Strategy, if we are to achieve a 50% reduction in fatalities over the next decade.”

Link to Provisional Road Collision Statistics for 2020

ϮSource: European Commission, 2020 available at: 

Table 1. Number of injury Collisions, Jan-17th Dec, 2019 vs 2020 

2019 2020 change (%)
Total injury collisions 5527 4120 -25
Please note, injury collisions include serious injury collisions and minor injury collisions. Figures are provisional and subject to change.


Table 2. Road User Fatalities 2019 vs 2020*  
  2019 2020 Change (+/-)  
Driver 74 63 -11  
Passenger 15 26 11  
Pedestrian 27 32 5  
Pedal cyclist 8 10 2  
Motorcyclist 16 17 1  
Other 1 1  
Total 140 149 9  
*Provisional and subject to change