Road deaths in 2023: Government ignoring ‘the elephant in the room’ 

“There are 641 Gardaí in the Traffic Corps."
Ellen Kenny
Ellen Kenny

11.37 3 Jan 2024

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Road deaths in 2023: Governmen...

Road deaths in 2023: Government ignoring ‘the elephant in the room’ 

Ellen Kenny
Ellen Kenny

11.37 3 Jan 2024

Share this article

Legislation to address the increase in road deaths in 2023 is ignoring “the elephant in the room”, according to Conor Faughnan. 

The Royal Irish Automobile Club CEO said 2023 was a “rotten year” for road deaths and 2024 is already off to a “rotten start”. 

Some three people have died in road crashes so far this year: a man in his 20s in Kildare, a motorcyclist in Cavan, and a woman in her 40s in Kildare. 


In 2023, 184 people lost their lives in 173 collisions, a 19% increase compared to 2022. 

Mr Faughnan told The Pat Kenny Show while there could be several factors contributing to road deaths, the main one is road safety enforcement.

“It is enforcement in my view more than anything else,” he said. 

“There are 641 Gardaí in the Traffic Corps – another 47 heads were dropped out of it due to pure attrition. 

“It’s supposed to be 1,100, it used to be 1,100 but it has just withered away on the vine.” 

Technology to address road deaths

Mr Faughnan acknowledged his argument might be “overly simplistic” and Government is introducing more speed vans to monitor roads. 

“There is an element of cameras replacing Gardaí,” he said. 

“Speeding is the one thing you’re more likely to get caught doing, but things like phone use, uninsured cars, drink driving and drug driving, none of those are addressed [by speed vans]. 

“Technology, ironically, is a bit like a drug; you can overtrust it and say we’re ploughing into technology. 

“But the elephant is in the room – the Garda Traffic Corps halved in size.” 

Minister of State Jack Chambers is also leading legislation to enforce lower default speed limits on Irish roads, which Mr Faughnan has already said could lead to “stupid speed limits”. 

Rate of road deaths

Mr Faughnan pointed out the Irish state has “very good” data collection on road death to help policymakers understand the circumstances surrounding fatalities. 

“It’s very male – well over 70%,” he said. “There’s no good reason for this, but if a married couple are in a car together, he’s driving. 

“Those differences are eroding as female life patterns are becoming similar to males. 

“But I think if you were to pretend there was no such thing as gender in this, you’d be missing a trick.” 

He also said fatalities are “skewed young”, but not overly so. 

'Hard to analyse'

Mr Faughnan pointed out while data collection is good, it can be harder to analyse in depth. 

“184 deaths in a year are obviously tragic but as a statistical data set, it’s hard to analyse,” he said. 

“We have two and a half million drivers in the country... so it can feel random.” 

The Road Traffic Bill was accelerated through the Oireachtas in December to address the increased fatalities in 2023. 

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