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Drivers urged to slow down this Christmas as minister says no family wants to get that knock on the door

There has been a rise in road deaths, with 171 losing their lives so far this year.

DRIVERS ARE BEING urged to reduce their speed and stay safe on the roads over the festive period after a “horrendous” year for road deaths.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) launched a campaign today calling on road users to reduce their speeds to 30km/h in urban areas and villages this Christmas.

The gardaí will also kick off its Christmas road safety enforcement plan tomorrow morning. 

Minister of State with responsibility for roads Jack Chambers said it has been a “horrendous year on our roads” with 171 people losing their lives so far this year – 31 more than there were in 2022.

He said the focus must now be on reminding people to slow down during December, particularly as the darker evenings set in. 

Launching the event at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire, Justice Minister Helen McEntee said the government is “redoubling” its efforts to reverse the trend of road deaths.

She pledged gardaí would be deployed to roads where analysis shows the majority of serious road traffic collisions occur, with attendees at today’s event told that Thursdays between 3pm-6pm is the most high risk time period.

McEntee said she would ensure that this Christmas gardaí are “on the roads that they need to be on, in the times at the locations that they are, to have the greatest effect”.

embedded274720172 Paula Hilman, Assistant Commissioner, Roads Policing & Community Engagement with Justice Minister Helen McEntee this morning. PA PA

Assistant Commissioner for Roads Policing and Community Engagement, Paula Hilman said: “It only takes a second for the unthinkable to happen and that’s why it’s essential, not only for drivers, for all of us, to look out for one another on the road, whatever activity we’re doing.”

The impact speed can have on casualties and fatalities was emphasised at the event, where it was stated that if hit at 60km/h, nine in 10 pedestrians will be killed, while if hit at 30km/h, nine in 10 people will survive.

The RSA today launched its new advert promoting the new 30km/ph speed zones: 

RSA Ireland / YouTube

Chairperson of the RSA Liz O’Donnell said ”we’re going to hear people complaining about this 30km/ph, we know that”, but added that the measure will save lives.

“We all have to just get used to it and change our habits,” she said.

O’Donnell said that RSA surveys show that people are admitting that they are speeding routinely and going over 10 kilometres more than the speed limit.

“So that’s a disaster,” she said.

Chambers said: “What is often not reported, though, is that for every fatality there are an average 10 serious injuries.

“Well over 900 people have sustained a serious injury on Irish roads this year and for many these injuries are life-changing for the victim, for families and friends, and communities, for extended periods of time, often for their whole lifetime.”

He said that the goal was “vision zero by 2050”, which aims to have no fatalities on Irish roads by then.

He added: “Look at the trend this year. This has been not only a devastating increase in road fatalities, but it’s particularly focused on younger people – up to 50% under 35. Even when you look at the trend and the cohort between 16 and 25, an enormous increase.

“That’s down to people not assessing risk, not recognising the fact that speed can kill them, can kill their passengers with them, and can recklessly impact, and injure and kill, other vulnerable road users.”

Hard-hitting TV adverts

When asked about hard-hitting adverts for road safety and whether they should return, as has been stated by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Chambers said that the RSA has a plan for historic TV adverts to be aired over the Christmas period. 

The advert called ‘anatomy of a split second’ which shows the danger of mobile phone use while driving, will also be televised in the coming weeks, he added, stating “there’s going to be a mix of ads, some of some of them reusing previous ads that did have a hard impact”.

Sam Waide, chief executive of the RSA, said: “The Christmas period should be a time of joy and celebration, not tragedy.

“Slower speeds save lives and by complying with these limits every road user contributes to a safer, more responsible road environment.

“We implore all road users to slow down and adhere to speed limits, including those in urban areas like 30km/h speed limits where they are in place, avoid driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and respect all other road users.

“Together, we can ensure that this Christmas is remembered for the right reasons.”

Warning not to drive to work morning after Christmas party

O’Donnell appealed to those going to their Christmas party this year to leave the car at home.

She also urged people to be aware of driving the next morning, stating that if you’re at the Christmas party and drinking until 3am in the morning, do not get into the car and go to work the next day.

“Work from home the following morning,” she said.

With reporting by Press Association

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