Vigilance appeal over road safety
Ireland is among the safest countries in Europe for road safety, according to the latest league tables.
But it still lags behind several neighbouring states when it comes to the number of road deaths in proportion to the population.
Figures released by the EU Commission show a 12% drop in fatal collisions across Ireland last year outperformed the continental average of 9%.
Road deaths have been steadily declining in recent years, but at 36 fatalities per million inhabitants Ireland remains more dangerous for road users than the UK, Netherlands, Sweden or Denmark.
Noel Brett, of the Road Safety Authority (RSA), said he was delighted Ireland was becoming one of the safest countries in the EU. He added: "The challenge now is to maintain Ireland's performance and to strive to become the very safest country in the EU."
Mr Brett said people still need to reflect on the fact that 162 lives were needlessly lost on Irish roads last year while there has been a rise in road deaths recently. Already, 45 people have been killed in collisions this year.
He added: "This represents an increase of 15 deaths compared to the same date last year. Our biggest concern is the increase in the number of driver and passenger deaths.
"I would urge drivers to be extra vigilant when using the roads as we have some poor driving conditions forecast for the week."
The RSA issued a sleet and snow alert for the week ahead, with forecasters predicting sub-zero temperatures and hazardous conditions in Ulster, northern and eastern parts of Leinster and north Connacht.