Road deaths between 1 January and 15 July this year are down 12% compared to the same period in 2020, according to a provisional review published today.
The Road Safety Authority (RSA) and An Garda Síochána said the study shows that 65 people died on Irish roads in 60 collisions from the start of this year up to 15 July.
This represents 12% fewer collisions and 12% fewer deaths compared to provisional Garda data for the same period in 2020.
A significant majority of fatalities happened outside of urban areas, with 82% of deaths occurring on rural roads with a speed limit of 80km/h or higher.
The review also found that 406 people were seriously injured in collisions. Further analysis shows that pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists accounted for almost half of all serious injuries (199).
The time between 12 noon and 4pm was the riskiest on Irish roads, accounting for 31% of fatalities to date this year.
There were 59% fewer road user fatalities occurring between midnight and 8am compared to the same period in 2020.
The number of fatalities occurring at the weekend decreased by a quarter versus last year.
Minister of State at the Department of Transport Hildegarde Naughton said: "Any reduction in lives lost on Irish roads is to be welcomed; however, the increase in fatalities on rural roads is very concerning.
"With our roads busier than ever as people holiday across the island, we all need to take care and be mindful of other road users on every trip."
Please stay safe on our roads this Bank Holiday weekend. @RSAIreland & @goapplegreen will be providing drivers with free cups of coffee to combat driver tiredness on Friday 30 July and Monday 2 August - be sure to pull in and grab a coffee if you are feeling tired on the road☕️🚙— Hildegarde Naughton (@1Hildegarde) July 26, 2021
RSA Chief Executive Sam Waide said: "While road deaths may be down this year, it should be viewed against an increase in deaths in 2020.
"Deaths fell in most European countries due to the Covid-19 pandemic last year, but not in Ireland. As a result, Ireland has slipped from second safest country in the EU 27 to fifth."
RSA Briefing here gets a looks at @DubFireBrigade springing into action in the middle of Min of State @1Hildegarde speech, as she appeals to all road users to be safe ahead of the bank holiday pic.twitter.com/YKI3QLL6KI— Aisling Moloney (@AislingTM) July 26, 2021
Mr Waide said the RSA's own research suggests one factor behind this is a deterioration in road user behaviour.
"The survey we conducted late last year revealed more drivers admitting to speeding in 50km and 100km speed zones.
"It also showed an increase in motorists texting while driving plus driving while fatigued and nodding off while behind the wheel."
Chief Superintendent Mick Hennebry, Garda National Roads Policing Bureau, said: "Speed is a factor in one third of fatal collisions in Ireland and unfortunately, we continue to see a minority of motorists drive at speeds in excess of the legal limit on our roads.
"Last year, An Garda Síochána issued 181,263 Fixed Charge Notices to motorists for speeding and we are seeing detections continue to rise across 2021."
A total of 71 people have died on Irish roads to date in 2021, seven fewer than the same period in 2020.