History of road fatalities 1947-1979

1947:  195 road users died in Ireland and 4,881 in Great Britain.
150 years of road fatalities 6Advertising since 1947 using the 1946 Highway Code stopping formula

In 1947, the Department of Local government commissioned the Irish Film Institute to make a Film ‘Mr Careless goes to town.  The film now shows how not to drive a car.  It is useful in showing what traffic was like in 1949 and that RSA Advertising, 70 years later in 2019, does not reduce road crashes resulting in death, injury and damage.

1948:  201 road users died in Ireland and 4,513 in Great Britain.

150 years of road fatalities 51949: 213 road users died in Ireland and 4,773 in Great Britain.

In 1949, the Department of Local government commissioned the Irish Film Institute to make a Film on Safe Cycling.

1950: 213 road users died and 4,452 were injured Ireland

1951: 251 road users died and 4,471 were injured in Ireland

1952: 222 road users died and 4,208 were injured in Ireland

1953: 257 road users died and 4,476 were injured in Ireland

1954:  267 road users died in Ireland and 4,769 were injured.

I witnessed one of those 267 fatal road crashes as one driver drove in front of another driver at a crossroads. I arrived on the scene of another fatal crash less than a kilometre away, within the week. Both fatal crash drivers were sober and had availed of the 2 hours tuition provided by the garage salesman in a dual controlled car.  The last words spoken by a passenger, a non-driver and the father of one of these drivers was, “Why did you do that?”, road fatalities continued as;

Road Crashes have but 4 Root causes:

  1. Incorrect police crash investigation since the death of Mary Ward in 1869.
  2. Training drivers with the aid of dual controls in 2 hours in tuition cars since 1899.
  3. The driving test was not yet introduced in Ireland, and
  4. The Highway Code designed by TRL was still used in Ireland.

1955: 282 road users died in Ireland and 5,200 were injured. 18 to 1

1956: 313 road users died in Ireland and 5,367 in Great Britain.

1957: 274 road users died in Ireland. The Minister for Local Government Patrick O’Donnell used the TRL designed 1946 Highway Code stopping formula in the Rules of the Road.  This mistake was transferred to the Department of the Environment in 1964 when driver testing was introduced and to the Department of Transport when the Road Safety Authority was established in 2006, so road fatalities continued.

1958: 269 road users died in Ireland and 3,343 were injured (12 to 1).  It is unlikely that these injury statistics in Ireland are accurate as they are four times lower than recorded in the UK and US.

1959: 306 road users died in Ireland and 3,284 were injured (11 to 1).  Gardai removed 37 years of road fatalities 1922 – 1959, from their records and claimed their statistics began in 1959.

  • Gardai declined under Data protection Legislation to release information on statistics.

1960: 302 road users died in Ireland and 5,753 were injured (19 to 1)

1961: 332 road users died in Ireland and 5,424 were injured (16 to 1).  The Road Traffic Act 1961 amended the 1933 Act and is the main legislation dealing with road safety and drunken driving. It was updated many times including in 1968, 2006, 2010, 2011, 2014, 2016 and 2018, but road fatalities continued.

1962: 339 road users died in Ireland and a further 335 in 1963.

1964:  341 road users died and 5,205 were injured.
The driving test was introduced and responsibility for driver testing and the Rules of the Road transferred to the Department of Environment. Retired Gardai and Army Personnel who had obtained driving licences without undertaking any test were employed as driving testers. The emergency braking stop was removed from the test at an early stage as drivers on test were rear ended. It took another 45 years before a test was introduced for driving instructors. The ad on Drink Driving stated:

150 years of road fatalities 8 But road fatalities involving drunk
and sober drivers continued.
150 years of road fatalities 7

1965: 356 road users died and 5,667 were injured in Ireland and in 1978 or 18 years after the introduction of the driving test there were 628 road fatalities with 9,313 injuries. (15 to 1). 

I investigated a fatal road crash when a motorcyclist and bus collided head-on.  The inexperienced motorcyclist was embedded in the front of the bus with 2 metres of space unused on his left. 

In 1966, I controlled a Garda patrol car when the driver, at high speed panicked, closed his eyes, prayed and accelerated as a lorry approached from a side road and in the opposite direction.

Drivers, roads and cars must have maximum speed limits, as at speed, some drivers must delay steering and braking, until observation, acceleration or other tasks are completed.

Dual controls in tuition cars are a mistake.

1966: 382 road users died on roads in Ireland and 5,412 were injured

1967: 416 road users died on roads in Ireland and 6,110 were injured

1968: 447 road users died on roads in Ireland and 9,716 were injured

1969: 462 road users died on roads in Ireland and 9,566 were injured

1970: 540 road users died on roads in Ireland and 9,269 were injured

1971: 576 road users died on roads in Ireland and 9,629 were injured

1972: 640 road users died on roads in Ireland and 8,955 were injured (14 to 1)

1973: 592 road users died on roads in Ireland and 8,762 were injured

1974: 594 road users died on roads in Ireland and 8,288 were injured

1975: 585 road users died on roads in Ireland and 7,198 were injured

1976: 525 road users died in Ireland and 7,258 were injured

1977: 583 road users died in Ireland and 8,515 were injured

1978: 628 road users died in Ireland and 9,313 were injured

1979: 614 road users died in Ireland and 8,250 were injured. (14 to 1). 

To clear the long waiting list to undertake a driving test, the Minister for Environment Sylvester Barrett introduced an amnesty and issued all drivers on a second provisional licence with a full driving licence.

  • This was deemed by many experts to be a serious mistake, while statistics show otherwise.