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For every person killed while cycling on Irish roads, 25 are seriously injured, says RSA

— Cyclists represent 7% of deaths, but 20% of serious injuries.

For every person cycling killed on Irish roads, 25 seriously injured, according to a Road Safety Authority overview of serious injuries on Irish roads between 2017 and 2020.

The overall rate for deaths to serious injuries is 9 to 1.

The figures were contained in a presentation given today by RSA research manager Velma Burns which covered the overview, show said the ratio “for cyclists is quite stark”.

Speaking at the annual RSA Academic Lecture, Burns said that Gardai are not medics to there are challenges in applying the definition of what is a serious injury from Garda.

The definition of what is a serious injury used by the RSA is “an injury for which the person is detained
in hospital as an ‘in-patient’ or any of the following injuries whether or not detained in hospital: fractures, concussion, internal injuries, crushings, severe cuts and lacerations, and/or severe general and shock requiring medical treatment.”

She referred to the fact that it is an international norm that police data does not give a full picture of serious injuries, she said that “enhanced validation” and better metrology is improving the data and “in fact gives us a truer, more complete picture”.

IMAGE: Crash data from the Netherlands presented by Dr Aarts.

Burns also highlighted the issue of different definitions across Europe for what is counted as a serious injury and how there is a move to complement collision data with hospital data.

Dr Letty Aarts, head of the data and analysis research section at SWOV, the Dutch road safety research institute, said that combining hospital and police data data, but care was needed to estimate the total number of injuries.

She said that single vehicle collisions were account for large number of collisions but this was also the case for motorists and motorcycles.

Dr Aarts also highlighted the difference between head injuries between motorcyclists and cyclists and she claimed this was due to helmets use — SWOV is one of the few Dutch institutions to recommend helmets for cyclists, but this rejected by most groups, including the Dutch government. The bicycle helmet wearing rate in the Netherlands is around 0-1%.

Breakdown of data in Ireland

81% of serious injuries among people cycling happened in urban areas, which is similar to pedistains, of which 86% happened in urban areas.

The gender split for serious injuries showed that 77% were men and 23% woman, which Burns said somewhat tallies with more men cycling.

Overall — for all road user types — Dublin and Cork has the highest number of serious injuries, but when adjusted for population size fell to the middle rank. Longford, Donegal, Kerry, Monaghan, and Cavan were the counties with the highest number of serious injuries per 100,000 people.

Annual Average Serious Injuries by County (all road user types)

Serious Injuries by County, 2017-2020

*Figures for 2018-2021 are provisional and subject to change. 

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