161 killed in 2012 road accidents
Three people a week were killed in road accidents in 2012, figures show.
Road safety chiefs revealed 161 people lost their lives on Irish roads last year, 25 fewer than 2011 and 51 less than 2010.
Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said the figure is a new record low for fatalities.
"The ongoing effort to reduce the tragedy of road deaths is working," he said. "But this change really comes down to the efforts of every single road user. We can never forget those who lost their lives on the roads in 2012, but next year we can take it a step further."
There has been a 56% decrease in road deaths and a 51% reduction in serious injuries up to the end of 2011 since the third road safety strategy was launched in 2007.
Broadcaster Gay Byrne, chairman of the Road Safety Authority, said at the time that one life was being lost on the roads every day, with seven deaths a week.
"Six years later and this has dropped to three lives lost every week," he added. "So as a result of your actions, the road-using public, you are preventing four deaths every week now compared to 2006. While one death is one too many, this is an extraordinary achievement and something of which you should all be very proud. The challenge now is to build on this success. We have three more lives a week to save."
Provisional statistics for 2012 revealed 30% of road deaths were people aged under 25; 108 or 67% of victims were male and 41% of road deaths occurred on Saturday and Sunday. The average monthly fatality rate in 2012 was 13, compared with 16 in 2011 and 18 in 2010.
Gardai later revealed the first road fatality of the new year came shortly before 9am.
The victim, a man aged in his 40s, died in hospital after his car crashed into a wall on the Ballybofey to Fintown road (R252) at Dooish, Co Donegal. A spokesman said the road was closed pending the arrival of forensic collision investigators, with diversions in place. Gardai have appealed for witnesses.