Gardaí analyse Galway road crash figures as county records highest number of deaths to date

Five children were among 13 people killed on the county’s roads since November 2022

A Garda road closure close to the scene near Aclint Bridge in Ardee, Co Louth, after three women were killed and two men seriously injured in a road accident involving three cars. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 21, 2017. Gardai said one woman, aged 39, was driving one of the cars, and the two other women, aged 69 and 37, were passengers. See PA story ACCIDENT Deaths Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Gardaí in Galway have begun a broad analysis of fatal road crashes in the county, as nine people have been killed on its roads so far in 2023, the highest of any county yet this year.

The figure for the county reaches 13 when looking back to last November, including five children. Road deaths nationally are now at 55, five more than for the corresponding period last year, or a rise of 10 per cent.

Galway’s Chief Supt Gerard Roche said road safety is now high among his priorities and he is engaging with various public service leaders in a bid to understand underlying issues.

“That is a huge priority for me and it requires specific operations, specific thought process and analysis of each and every one of those road traffic accidents to see what the reasons are,” he said in a recent interview with Galway Bay FM.


“Working hand in hand with the county council and the city council with regards to road issues that may come up.”

Chief Supt Roche recently met the heads of various local services including the councils, hospitals and HSE.

“We are all involved in this, it’s a joint venture really that we have to take on these problems together.”

Parc, the road safety advocacy group, welcomed the move but said roads policing remained essential to improve driver behaviour.

“They should be doing [fatality reviews] all the time, it should be a monthly exercise,” a spokeswoman said in relation to nationwide road deaths. “A review is all very well but visibility is the best deterrent.”

Chief Supt Roche outlined his concerns regarding garda recruitment being unable to keep pace with retirements, of which he expects 20 to 30 by the end of the year.

“I’d like lots more people and if you were to talk to any other chief in Ireland [they would] tell you the same thing,” he told the Galway Talks with Sally-Ann Barrett programme.

“We are limited because of the limited amount of probationers that are coming out of the garda college. If we went back two years most big divisions were getting maybe 10, 12 probationers every three, four months. Now we are getting little or nothing.”

The Galway area currently has 38 gardaí assigned to roads policing compared to a high of 51 in 2010, according to data provided by Parc. The annual average between 2009 and 2022 has been 40.

In April alone there have been two deaths on Galway roads and two in Co Cork, as well as one each in counties Longford, Meath, Monaghan, Laois, Wicklow and Sligo. The national total rose to 55 following the death of 23-year-old Oran Gethins (23) in Co Sligo on Sunday.

Garda roads policing has aimed to apply a consistent approach to how it operates partly informed through research and analysis of statistics, as well as through campaigns run in conjunction with other State agencies.

During its 24 hour National Slow Down Day which began last Friday, GoSafe vans checked the speed of 140,720 vehicles and detected 211 breaking limits.

In Galway, those included examples highlighted by gardaí of drivers travelling at 161km/h in a 120km/h zone and another travelling at 129km/h in a 100km/h zone.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times