Road users are being urged to take care over the Easter weekend as provisional figures from gardaí show that 50 people have lost their lives on Irish roads to date this year, compared to 29 in the same period last year.

Four people were killed in road crashes last Easter, and nine were seriously injured.

Both of those figures were up on the previous year.

Ahead of the Easter Bank Holiday weekend, the Road Safety Authority and gardaí are appealing to all road users to slow down, wear seatbelts, not to drive when impaired, or distracted or when tired.

More than half of the road fatalities so far this year occurred at weekends and more than a third occurred overnight.

The figures show that 84% of those who died were men and 62% of fatal crashes occurred on rural roads.

The RSA has warned that if current trends continue there could be 180 road deaths this year, which would be one of the highest in a decade.

RSA Chief Executive Sam Waide said there has been an "appalling" start to the year with 50 lives lost.

"If we continue on this path, we could end up losing 180 lives this year. Ireland is in danger of having the highest number of road fatalities in a decade.

"If we all act now and improve our behaviour on the road, collectively we can avoid this preventable loss of life," he said.

He said there will be a focus on drug driving over the weekend, with analysis by the Medical Bureau of Road Safety showing that cannabis and cocaine are the most detected drugs in drivers on Irish roads.

In 2021, 57% of specimens tested for drugs contained cannabis, 31% contained cocaine and 14% were found to have benzodiazepines.

Assistant Commissioner Roads Policing Paula Hillman said large numbers are expected to be on the roads this weekend and garda checkpoints will be in place around the country, focusing on speeding, drink/drug driving, seatbelt wearing and using mobile phones while driving.