New campaign urges drivers to be cautious as roads get busier

A new campaign urging road users to be extra cautious as the roads get busier has been launched by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and An Garda Síochána. Motorists are also being advised to take watch out for the increased numbers of cyclists and pedestrians on Irish roads.

The campaign, titled ‘We’re on the road back. Make it a safer one’, comes as COVID-19 travel restrictions are lifted all over the Republic of Ireland. Travel within a 20km limit of the home or within the county boundary is now allowed.

Drivers are being asked to slow down, avoid distractions while driving and to 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.

In addition, the RSA and An Garda Síochána are reminding car owners to ensure their vehicle, which may not have been driven for some time, is roadworthy by undertaking some basic maintenance checks in advance of setting off.

“People have done so much over the last three months to tackle the coronavirus, save lives and protect public health,” Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross said. “The commitment we have seen across the country has been extraordinary. But road safety is also a public health issue and we need to see 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.”

Ms Liz O’Donnell, Chairperson of the RSA, added: “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 March 17-22, there were nine people killed on the roads. I am concerned that this may be repeated as travel restrictions are gradually lifted.

“In the period covered by the start of government measures (March 13) up to June 7, the end of Phase 1, there were 26 fatalities compared to 35 over the same period in 2019. This is nine less deaths. While fewer people were killed during the period of restrictions, the level of road deaths was unacceptably high when you consider there was a seventy percent drop in traffic volumes.

“I am 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.

“Many drivers will be getting back behind the wheel after a long absence. It is easy to be a little bit rusty and we are asking motorists to put safety first. Before you start your car, familiarise yourself with it again and make sure it’s in a roadworthy condition by carrying out basic road safety checks such as checking your tyres, oil and lights.”