Provisional figures from the Road Safety Authority show that 161 people died on the roads last year, an average of three a week.

The number represents a decrease of 25 people, or 15%, from the previous year, when 186 road deaths were reported.

The number of road deaths has now fallen every year since 2006.

It is also the fifth consecutive year that a new record low for fatalities in the Republic has been achieved.

The RSA pointed to the success of its three-year strategy aimed at reducing the number of road deaths.

A new eight-year safety strategy is now being put in place.

Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar noted that in 2012 the loss of life on the State's roads was the lowest ever recorded.

He said he looked forward to greater success in the coming years.

Road Safety Authority Chairman Gay Byrne said the figures marked an extraordinary achievement, but said the challenge now is to build on this success.

RSA Chief Executive Noel Brett thanked gardaí and the emergency services for ensuring that roads are becoming safer and for caring for those who had been affected by road deaths and injuries.