The number of fatalities on Irish roads is up 24% so far in 2020 compared to this time last year.

As of 26 March 2020, there have been 47 road deaths in Ireland, nine more than for the same period in 2019.

This is an increase of 24% on the mortality rate so far this year. The road death victims include 14 pedestrians, 20 drivers, eight passengers, four motorcyclists and one cyclist.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA), An Garda Síochána and the Irish Association for Emergency Medicine (IAEM) have expressed concern at the significant increase in the number of road deaths. 

RSA chairperson Liz O'Donnell, said: "It has been a shocking start to 2020. Road deaths have increased by 24% and it's a trend we don't want to see happening at any time.

"The roads might be quieter than normal but there are more vulnerable road users out and about. So, it has never been more important to practise good road safety habits.

"This is not a time for making unnecessary journeys, it is a time for taking extra care in everything we do. Drivers in particular need to slow down, put away your mobile phone and look out for vulnerable road users."

Dr Fergal Hickey of the IAEM said: "Colleagues working in Emergency Medicine and myself are alarmed at the level of irresponsible road user behaviour we have witnessed recently.

"As someone on the frontline of the health service, I know that hospitals are about to be put under extreme pressure responding to Covid-19, the like of which has never been experienced before.

"If the current trends in road collisions continues it will place extra demands on our healthcare professionals. Every crash diverts ambulance crews and adds to the workload of already under pressure Emergency Departments."

Assistant Commissioner Dave Sheehan, Roads Policing Unit, said: "An Garda Síochána has been building up its manpower and resources to respond to the unprecedented challenges posed by the Covid-19 health crisis.

"I can assure you that members of our Roads Policing Units nationwide will continue to enforce our life-saving road safety laws.

"But what we really need right now is for people to understand that every collision caused by irresponsible road behaviour distracts from the national effort to respond to Covid-19 related community needs.

"I want to echo my colleagues on the front line in our health services and appeal to all road users to take greater responsibility when using the roads, now and in the future. By doing so we can save lives and assist in the current public national health effort."

Transport Minister Shane Ross said the rise in fatalities was 'unforgivable'

Minister for Transport, Shane Ross said it was  "desperately sad that already in 2020 so many lives have been lost and families traumatised by entirely preventable road collisions. This is unforgivable.

"We are in an emergency currently with the Covid-19 pandemic. We cannot afford to put any more pressure on our hospitals and healthcare professionals at this time.

"Just as it is our national duty to tackle the pandemic, it is also our national duty to stay safe, keep others safe on the roads and not add to the workload of our health care system.

"Don't be selfish. Don't drink or take drugs and drive. Keep within the speed limits, wear a seat belt and don't even think of using your phone while driving."

The monthly average for 2020 stands at 16 road deaths per month, compared to 12 per month for both 2019 and 2018. Nine deaths were recorded in January, 20 in February and 18 to date in March 2020.

Over the six days from 17 March to 22 March, nine people alone were killed on Irish roads.