Road users have been urged to be safe over the festive period after a “horrendous” year for deaths.
The Road Safety Authority (RSA) launched a campaign on Thursday calling on road users to reduce their speeds to 30km/h in urban areas and villages this Christmas.
Minister of State with responsibility for roads Jack Chambers said darker evenings and more activity in December make it a “worrying” month for road safety.
“We’ve had a horrendous year on our roads, 171 people who lost their lives, and our real focus is to remind people to slow down during December,” Mr Chambers said.
There are 31 more road fatalities so far this year than there were in 2022.
The RSA, An Garda Siochana, Department of Transport and Department of Justice are involved in the campaign to encourage safety over the Christmas period.
Launching the event at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire, Justice Minister Helen McEntee pledged gardai would be deployed to roads where analysis shows the majority of serious road traffic collisions occur.
She said she would ensure that this Christmas gardai are “on the roads that they need to be on, in the times at the locations that they are, to have the greatest effect”.
The impact speed can have on casualties and fatalities was emphasised at the event, where it was stated that if hit at 60km/h, nine in 10 pedestrians will be killed, while if hit at 30km/h, nine in 10 people will survive.
Mr Chambers said: “What is often not reported, though, is that for every fatality there are an average 10 serious injuries.
“Well over 900 people have sustained a serious injury on Irish roads this year and for many these injuries are life-changing for the victim, for families and friends, and communities, for extended periods of time, often for their whole lifetime.”
He said that the goal was “vision zero by 2050”, which aims to have no fatalities on Irish roads by then.
He added: “Look at the trend this year. This has been not only a devastating increase in road fatalities, but it’s particularly focused on younger people – up to 50% under 35. Even when you look at the trend and the cohort between 16 and 25, an enormous increase.
“That’s down to people not assessing risk, not recognising the fact that speed can kill them, can kill their passengers with them, and can recklessly impact, and injure and kill, other vulnerable road users.”
Sam Waide, chief executive of the RSA, said: “The Christmas period should be a time of joy and celebration, not tragedy.
“Slower speeds save lives and by complying with these limits every road user contributes to a safer, more responsible road environment.
“We implore all road users to slow down and adhere to speed limits, including those in urban areas like 30km/h speed limits where they are in place, avoid driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and respect all other road users.
“Together, we can ensure that this Christmas is remembered for the right reasons.”