RSA launches Christmas campaign
Speeding, drink and drug driving and seat belts will be the focus of a Garda crackdown on road safety this Christmas and New Year.
Launching their annual Christmas road safety message, gardaí and the Road Safety Authority said while there has been 15 fewer road deaths so far this year, the number of those seriously injured must not be forgotten.
This year’s campaign, launched in collaboration with the National Spinal Injuries Unit at the Mater Hospital, focuses on life long injuries such as spinal cord and brain damage.
Some 19,600 people have been seriously injured on Irish roads since 1996. While the numbers have decreased in recent years in line with road deaths, 440 people suffered serious injuries on Irish roads last year alone.
“The Traffic Corps is committed to ensuring we minimise the tragic impact of road collisions, be it death or serious injury,” Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan said. “Over the festive period, we will be dedicating our resources to stamping out irresponsible, risky behaviour on our roads.”
This was not about “catching people out”, he said, but about protecting road users.
Chairman of the Road Safety Authority Gay Byrne reminded road users of the risk of serious injury. “It’s estimated for every one death on EU roads, there is at least eight serious injuries such as spinal cord or brain injuries that require lifelong support and attention,” he said.
“Our message as always is simple – don’t take risks on the road. Slow down, wear your seatbelt, never ever drink or drug and drive and make sure you get home safely for Christmas.”
Minster for Transport Leo Varadkar said while road fatalities have declined for six successive years and are now at their lowest since records began in 1956, we mustn’t become complacent.
“Almost 160 people have died on our roads this year and what that means is 160 empty seats at the dinner table on Christmas Day. We don’t want anyone else to have to spend the Christmas period visiting graves when they should be enjoying their time with their families.
“Stay safe, don’t speed, don’t drink and drive and just look out for each other,” he said.
The Minister said speed and drink driving were still concerns and he would be proposing a new Road Traffic Bill in early 2013 to address graduated driver licensing, roadside drug testing and changes to the penalty points system.
Speaking at the launch, 25 year-old nurse Elaine Hanly from Roscommon described how a spinal injury from a road accident in August 2011 has changed her life.
“Living with a serious injury is a daily struggle and life will never be the same again,” she said.
“Nobody ever thinks that they will be in a crash or that something serious could happen to them, but it can. I would like people to realise that they are so fragile on the roads and that we really need to take great care.”