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The lockdown effect on road accidents in Ireland

31st August 2020 Print
Dublin Ireland Streets

Deaths on the roads in Ireland are almost 10 percent higher than last year, despite lockdown measures in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. After three months of lockdown, the deaths have gone up significantly. If the months of March and June are taken into account with the 70 percent reduction in national traffic volumes, the country of Ireland is facing a fatality rate that is nearing a 20 percent uptick from last year. 

While the government has issued safety plea in August, Irish roads witnessed major traffic volumes as tens of thousands of families are choosing to stay home for their vacations due to the pandemic. In August, four have died on Irish roads, which is six more than 2019. Since traffic volume has decreased by 70 percent during the national lockdown with a decrease that resulted in serious accidents. 

Number of Deaths this Year

88 people have died on Irish roads this year. Of them 34 were drivers, 18 were passengers, and 21 were pedestrians. Other than automobiles, 11 people who died were motorcyclists and four were bicyclists. Expressing a concern over pedestrian, motorcycle, and pedal cyclists deaths, the Road Safety Authority has released statistics that show a significant increase of almost 15 percent in the total number of serious collisions this year. Comparatively, there was a four percent increase from 2018 and 2019, with the former ranking as the safest year on Irish roads since the 1950s. 


The Assistant Commissioner of the Road Safety Authority Paula Hilman said that in some cases motorists had blatantly ignored the rules of the road in respect of speed and the use of drinking and drugs. One motorist was found to be driving while under the influence of cocaine and cannabis. Nine people were arrested over the August bank holiday for driving while intoxicated.  While this data seems to suggest that there has been an increase in intoxicated drivers, there is also reason to think that motorists are driving at higher speed on emptier roads. 

“Extreme Speeds”

According to Ireland’s top traffic garda, some motorists are driving at “extreme speeds” on Ireland’s emptier roads. There have been arrests of drivers who are traveling at very high speeds. One was arrested for going over 200 km on 50 km motorway speeds, despite that pedestrians may be on these roads. While there could be a connection between intoxication and high speeds, they are not exclusive. In tandem, these behaviors are leading to high deaths on Irish roads. 

The Lockdown Effect

With the lockdowns from COVID-19, there has been a huge leap in crashes, despite the reductions in traffic. It isn’t just that there has been an increase in collisions, the crashes are deadlier according to McGinley, a firm of personal injury solicitors. This is not exclusive to Ireland, however. There is a similar phenomenon occurring in large cities like New York City and London. Fatal collisions rose 167 percent during April in New York City since last year. There was a huge 292 percent increase in Chicago and a staggering 470 percent spike in Madrid.  

Empty Roads, Higher Deaths

Not only are there more collision on these emptier roads, they are more deadly. People feel emboldened to drive fast and recklessly. Some feel that they can drive under the influence more safely, but this has proven to be far from the truth. Just because there is less traffic does not mean the roads are safer, as we have seen not only in Ireland but in Spain and the United States. To mitigate the spread of deaths, awareness about this phenomenon is integral. 

The lockdown effect on less-busy roads is real, and the fatalities are increasing. Not only is it imperative to be careful on the road, drivers need to know about these statistics. The roads are emptier, but they are not safer. In fact just the contrary. By spreading this information, we can work towards safer lockdown roads, less accidents, and fewer deaths. With such a strange, difficult time for all of us, mitigating more death and suffering is our civic duty. It is the right thing to do, for everyone. 

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Dublin Ireland Streets