The Road Safety Authority has published provisional statistics for 2017, which show a 15% drop in road deaths compared with the previous year.

A total of 158 people lost their lives on Ireland's roads compared to 186 lives lost in 2016.

It represents 28 fewer fatalities on the previous year and is the lowest figure for annual road deaths since they were first officially recorded in 1959.

Minister for Transport Shane Ross said improved legislation, greater enforcement and road safety campaigns all played their part in reducing the figure.

However, he added: "While it is heartening to see that 2017 was the lowest year on record for road deaths, this is not good enough.

"We need to continue our efforts if we are to achieve the objective of reducing fatalities to 124 by 2020. Ultimately our aim should be zero deaths on our roads."

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That point was echoed by RSA Chief Executive Moyagh Murdock, who said Ireland was a "long way off achieving its road safety targets".

She said: "The strategy has set the task of making Ireland’s roads as safe as the best performing countries in the European Union, specifically to reduce road fatalities on Irish roads to 124 or fewer by 2020.

"This means there must be a further 22% reduction in road deaths, on 2017 figures, over the next three years.

"While this will be a challenging target to achieve given our mixed road safety performance since 2013, its one that we must all strive to achieve through our continued efforts to implement the 144 road safety measures contained in the strategy."