— An average of 100 cyclists hospitalised a year with “clinically serious injuries”.
Serious injuries from road traffic collisions are 75% higher than Garda figures which are used by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) according to research conducted by the authority, the HSE and Trinity College Dublin.
The difference between hospital figures and police figures is a known issue internationally which prompted the European Commission to recommend member states to formally report on serious injuries using hospital data.
The number of people admitted to hospital as in-patients who were recorded as being in road traffic collisions between 2014 and 2021 was 15,677 — this compares to ‘serious injuries’ 8,977 recorded in the Garda Síochána statistics.
The data was released today as the RSA Annual Conference started in Dublin this morning.
An RSA press release said: “The discrepancy between hospital and police data has been observed internationally and can be more pronounced when looking at cyclist serious injuries. This was the case in Ireland, following the findings of this research project, where 2.4 times more cyclists were hospitalised following a road traffic collision, compared to numbers recorded in official figures recorded by An Garda Síochána and reported by the RSA.”
However, the RSA did not outline that the discrepancy between people cycling is also internationally known to be because hospital data for cyclists does not distinguish between road traffic collisions and sporting and other off-road injuries.
The RSA added: “For cyclists specifically, this new Irish study noted that 63% of all cyclists hospitalised sustained their injuries in single cyclist collisions, where no other vehicle was involved.”
Generally, the RSA said that there are many reasons why hospital figures are higher than police-reported figures, including if “an incident was not formally reported to police, or if a serious injury only became apparent in the days immediately following a collision.” Of course, the RSA does not say that it also includes injuries where people were fobbed off by Garda officers and the incident was not recorded for that reason.
Junior transport Minister Jack Chambers TD said: “Having an accurate account of the serious injuries that people experience as a result of a road traffic collision is central to road safety. This will inform road safety policy as well as feed into measures to improve post-crash response, infrastructure, and technology.”
He added: “In addition, the implementation of the measures contained in the speed limit review, changes to penalty points legislation, increased enforcement by An Garda Síochána and the RSA’s education and awareness campaigns are all vital to reducing serious injuries and making our roads safer for all users.”
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Dr Stefania Castello of the research department at the Road Safety Authority said: “In this study, we also focused on looking at the profile of the cyclists who sustained the most severe injuries from a clinical point of view. We saw that these cyclists were more frequently males, 45 years or older, and sustained serious lower limb or head injuries.”
He added: “This is new information that the RSA has not previously had access to and provides valuable information to us to inform the development of evidence-based interventions for road safety and for public health.”
Table 1. Total number of cyclists recorded by AGS and in hospital data. Of the total of hospitalised cyclists, it is also shown the total of cyclists who sustained clinically serious injuries. (RSA)
|Cyclists||Total period 2014-2021|
|Serious injuries AGS||1697|
|Hospitalised with clinically serious injuries||700|