Over 3,500 road users suffered life-altering injuries between 2014 and 2017, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) has said.
Launching its Christmas and New Year road safety appeal, the authority urged all road users to act responsibly and safely this festive period.
Research presented at the launch revealed that a total of 3,518 people suffered life-altering injuries between 2014 and 2017. Half of those injured were considered vulnerable road users - pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.
Among those seriously injured, 64% were male. Among seriously injured passengers, 47% were 24 or younger, while the largest share of injured pedestrians (23%) were aged under 17.
When it came to serious injuries among drivers and passengers, a greater proportion occurred on rural roads. Among vulnerable road users, a greater proportion of serious injuries occurred on urban roads.
Overall, the highest number of road collisions that resulted in serious injuries occurred in Dublin (29%), followed by Cork (11%) and Galway (5%). However, Cavan, Leitrim and Monaghan were the counties with the highest average annual number of serious injury collisions per 100,000 of population.
Speaking at the launch of the campaign, RSA chairperson, Liz O'Donnell, said that road deaths represent "only the tip of the iceberg" of road collisions.
"Survivors of a serious collision may be viewed as the ‘lucky ones', but in reality, they are often dealing with life-changing injuries and personal trauma requiring many months and years of medical attention, rehabilitation and support. Not only are they learning to cope with their injuries, but their families, friends and loved ones are also coming to terms with these life changing injuries and how to support them every day," she commented.
Also speaking at the launch, Garda Commissioner, Drew Harris, thanked the majority of the public "who have heeded the road safety messages throughout the year".
"Unfortunately there are still some people who are prepared to put their own and other people's lives at risk. From this weekend, An Garda Síochána will be launching its six week Christmas and New Year road safety campaign. This will include a focus on mandatory intoxicant testing checkpoints around the country to deter people from driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or a combination of both. Of course our members will also continue to enforce all other road traffic legislation," Commissioner Harris noted.
The RSA is urging all road users to plan ahead this Christmas.
"This Christmas and New Year if you are planning to head out for a drink, plan how you are going to get home safely. Organise a taxi, hackney, minibus, public transport, designate a driver or arrange a lift. Remember you may not be safe to drive the morning after. Drink driving is drink driving no matter what time of the day or week it is," Commented RSA chief executive, Moyagh Murdock.
Meanwhile, the RSA and An Garda Síochána are supporting the Coca-Cola Designated Driver campaign again this year. Coca-Cola will offer two free drinks from the Coca-Cola range that can be redeemed in participating bars and restaurants across Ireland.
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