Irish people need to improve their “attitudinal relationship with speed” to address the spike in road deaths this year.
Some 127 people have died in road crashes so far this year, up 25% from the same time last year.
Road Safety Authority (RSA) Partnerships and External Affairs Director Sarah O’Connor told On the Record with Gavan Reilly the RSA has been “floored” by the increased deaths.
“The last number of week shave been tragic and devastating,” she said.
Ms O’Connor said it “takes a while to unpack” the cause of different crashes.
“We get the answer as to why when we look at the coronial data when we partner with the Coroner’s Court,” she said.
“Two years down the line when the court comes to decisions about what’s happening, they share their data to find out what’s happening at trend level.”
Right now, Ms O’Connor said the trend in increased deaths among younger drivers, with 25% of victims this year between the age of 16 and 25.
“When we look at the last two years, it’s nearly two years of road deaths among that age group, in the one year,” she said.
“We have a lot of work to do targeting younger drivers.”
Speeding was another target for the RSA to reduce road deaths in Ireland.
“We don’t have the right attitudinal relationship with speed in Ireland,” Ms O’Connor said.
“It’s hard to digest the scale of it.”
She said a recent RSA survey found the majority of people “routinely” drive about the speed limit, with 47% going a normal speed above the limit and 17% going a high speed above the limit.
When considering the right speed to drive at, Ms O’Connor said it’s not just about following the number on the sign.
“It’s knowing ‘well is the road safe for me to drive at at this speed?’,” she said.
“Do the road conditions and weather conditions mean I should slow down?”
The RSA also found seven in 10 road deaths occurred on rural roads.
Ms O’Connor said most people speed when they’re alone on empty roads.
“Something mentally in them will say, ‘Well off I go’,” she said.
“That’s the switch we need to turn off.
“It's not only about slowing down... it's about the driving behaviour every single time, and slowing down every single time.”
You can listen back here: