Drivers’ “failure to observe” linked to 38% of collisions where people cycling seriously injured

— 20% of serious collisions involving drivers were hit-and-runs.

Garda statistics show that a “failure to observe was the most frequently noted action” for motorists (38%) in relation to fatalities and serious injuries among cyclists between 2016-2021.

Of the serious collisions involving other vehicle drivers, 53% were at junctions. And, of the collisions at junctions, 88% of the 1,177 people cycling were heading straight, while 46% of other vehicle drivers involved were heading forward, 22% were turning right, and 17% were turning left. The remainder were not stated or not determined.

The vast majority of collisions were in daylight hours, “failure to observe” is often referred to by academics and others researching road safety as not relating to visibility.

The Garda data was looked at by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) which said that between 2016 and 2022, 65 people cycling were killed on our roads and 1,636 cyclists were seriously injured. That amounts to a yearly average of 9 people fatally injured and 234 people seriously injured.

The information was released yesterday as part of the RSA’s launch of a new safety campaign. It was presented as a report titled “Cyclist spotlight report: Fatalities and serious injuries 2016-2021” but presented more in the format of a presentation than a report.

The RSA said that almost two-thirds of fatalities occurred on higher-speed rural roads (64%) and that almost a third (18 or 31%) of cyclist fatalities occurred Sunday.

On the other hand, collisions involving serious injuries are more likely to be in urban areas (81%) with 46% of the total occurring at junctions. Serious injuries are also more evenly spread across the week, but peak in the midweek rather than the weekend.

82% of the serious collisions involved motorists and 18% were ‘Single Vehicle Collision’ — bicycles are legally counted as vehicles, so, these are, for example, where the collision is as a result of poor road surface, oil spill etc.

Overall where there were other vehicle drivers involved, 76% were driving cars, 11% light goods, 5% were controlling motorcycles or bicycles (no further split given), 4% were driving heavy goods vehicles, and 2% were driving large buses.

258 of the 1,307 — or nearly 20% — of serious collisions involving drivers were hit-and-runs where the other road user failed to remain at the collision point.

Of the collisions at junctions, T-junctions were over-represented in serious collisions with 46% happing at that type of junction. The rest happened at crossroads (23%), on roundabouts (20), on Y-Junctions (6%), and 4% were recorded as other junction types.

The available data shows that the trip purpose of 71% of collisions resulting in serious injuries were non-commuting to work or education. These were marked as “social” but this definition was not defined and it’s not clear how much it involves lumping in widely different types of cycling, from sporting or training cycling to cycling to a friend’s house or out for dinner.

The trip purpose of the remainder of collisions were defined as: 21% to/from work, 5% for work, and 3% to/from school. The purpose of one fatal collision and thirty-four collisions are unknown and there is rounding of percentages.

The RSA said that the information is from the Irish Road Traffic Collision Database, which is based on
collision records transferred from An Garda Síochána to the authority.

The RSA document states that the data is provisional and subject to change, and it adds: “Note that the information in this report is based on preliminary findings of the AGS investigation, at an early stage in the process. It does not contain information on contributory factors from the final completed investigation process.”

The Gardai count a serious injury when a 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, crushing, severe, cuts and lacerations, and severe general shock requiring medical treatment.

A death is counted as a fatality when the death occurs within 30 days of the date of the collision and is connected to the injuries sustained in the collision.

IMAGES: The RSA notes that the figures for 2019-2022 are provisional and subject to change and that here can be fluctuations in serious injury numbers until such a time as the data is deemed to be final.


  1. I wonder how many SUV vehicles vs regular cars.
    A lot more blind spots on them I think.

    I see so many SUV drivers lately who ‘kick’ open their door very quickly as it is so heavy, and don’t check for cyclists.

    Why hands free mobile isn’t mandatory is beyond me. So many drivers are on the phone still it’s crazy.

  2. Does the RSA categorise its motor collision data based on purpose of journey as well? Just wondering, because 100% of my driving is non-commuting and could, therefore, be categorised as for “social”. My biking on the other hand is probably in distance terms c.40% grocery/retail shopping, 25% commuting to work, 15% to entertainment (cinema, pub etc.). Neither my cycling or driving would be considered “social”. Is that people driving or cycling around the Wicklow Gap for “pleasure”? There is nothing pleasurable about biking or driving in Ireland.

    Both are painful and about getting from A to B, just for those on bikes it is an added danger of not getting home due to inattentive motorists such as the guy who failed to stop on a small residential roundabout near me last Friday morning. It was only by me braking hard and using the small solid centre surface to stop and glare at him that saved me from getting clattered at relatively slow speed. He seemed genuinely shocked and did not move off for about 10 seconds. It is not as if I don’t have a high quality electric headlight on in day time that is well visible. He just did not “see” me as he assumed no one comes from that side arm quiet estate to his right. Not the first time I have experienced this level of inattentiveness unfortunately.


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