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Drivers urged to slow down as more cyclists and pedestrians are on the roads

Roads around Ireland are getting busier as Covid-19 restrictions start to ease.

File photo
File photo
Image: Mark Stedman/RollingNews.ie

THE ROAD SAFETY Authority (RSA) and An Garda Síochána have launched a new road safety campaign urging road users to be extra cautious as the roads get busier, in particular because there are increased numbers of cyclists and pedestrians.

Roads around Ireland are getting busier as Covid-19 restrictions start to ease. People can now travel within 20km from their home, or within their own county, whichever is further.

It is planned to remove domestic travel restrictions completely on 29 June.

Under the new road safety campaign, ‘We’re on the road back. Make it a safer one’, drivers are being urged to slow down, avoid distractions while driving, and take care when passing pedestrians and cyclists.

Pedestrians are reminded to use the footpath and if there is none, to walk on the right-hand side of the road, facing oncoming traffic.

Screenshot 2020-06-10 at 11.11.10 Source: RSA

In the period covered by the start of government restrictions (13 March) up to 7 June, there 26 people died on Irish roads, compared to 35 in the corresponding period in 2019, the RSA noted today. This represents a decrease of nine deaths, or a 26% decline, in fatalities.

To date in 2020, there have been 64 fatalities as a result of 60 fatal crashes on Irish roads, compared to 64 fatalities following 55 fatal crashes up to the same period in 2019.

Car owners are also being urged to ensure their vehicle, which may not have been driven for some time, is roadworthy by undertaking some basic maintenance checks in advance of driving.

A spike in collisions

Speaking today, Liz O’Donnell, Chairperson of the RSA, said: “In the run up Covid-19 travel restrictions being put in place, we saw a spike in road traffic collisions.

“In fact, over the six days from 17 to 22 March, there were nine people killed on the roads. I am concerned that this may be repeated as travel restrictions are gradually lifted.”

O’Donnell said she is “also fearful that as people start getting back on the roads, they will fail to realise that there is now a changed environment on our roads, not only are children on their summer holidays, there are more people out walking and cycling, all the while trying to social distance”.

“As the restrictions are relaxed, it is more important than ever that we share the roads safely. Drivers need to slow down and be mindful of these vulnerable road users.”

Assistant Commissioner Paula Hilman, of the Garda Roads Policing and Community Engagement Division, said An Garda Síochána “will maintain a visible presence on our road network”.

“I would ask all road users to remember the basics of road safety, to drive within speed limits, to comply with road signage, don’t drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, make sure to wear your seatbelt while driving and don’t be distracted by electronic devices,” Hilman said.

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Speaking about the new campaign, Transport Minister Shane Ross said people have “done so much over the last three months to tackle the coronavirus, save lives and protect public health”.

He encouraged the same commitment from all road users to “saving lives on our roads”.

“We know from the data that most road deaths are preventable; most collisions are as a result of human behaviour. So just as we have adapted our behaviour in the face of a pandemic, we must be prepared to change our behaviour to meet the challenges with more of us walking and cycling on the road,” Ross said.

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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