Motorists urged to slow down on bank holiday weekend

Gardaí to mount more than 1,300 speed checkpoints as part of enforcement plan

Outside Cork city for the launch of the Road Safety Authority’s October bank holiday slow-down campaign was chief executive Sam Waide and Chief Supt Tom Murphy. Photograph: Diane Cusack

Outside Cork city for the launch of the Road Safety Authority’s October bank holiday slow-down campaign was chief executive Sam Waide and Chief Supt Tom Murphy. Photograph: Diane Cusack

 

Motorists reducing their average speed by just 1 per cent will bring about a fourfold drop in road fatalities, a senior garda has revealed.

The comment came as the officer launched a National Slow Down Enforcement operation for the October bank holiday which will mean gardaí mount speed checks in more than 1,300 locations countrywide.

Supt Thomas Murphy of the Garda National Roads Policing Bureau said that it was particularly important that motorists slow down and drive not just within the speed limits but in a manner appropriate to the driving conditions over this bank holiday weekend.

“There are some drivers who ignore our speed limits and put themselves and others at risk – this is especially true on rural roads which are often narrow and where bends and corners restrict a driver’s vision – there is no margin for error on these roads which is why drivers need to slow down.”

Supt Murphy said that international research found that 30 per cent of fatal collisions are the result of inappropriate speeding by motorists. But a reduction of just 1 per cent in average speed will bring about a 4 per cent reduction in road fatalities.

And he pointed to the Garda/Road Safety Authority statistics which show that five people died and 56 sustained serious injuries on Irish roads over the October bank holiday weekend over the past five years, prompting a big speed enforcement campaign this weekend.

“Over the last couple of years, since 2016, we have had five fatalities and 56 serious injuries on October bank holiday weekends and it’s too many. It’s a result of people rushing to their destinations, I am asking them to slow down and arrive on time rather than not at all,” he said.

He said that gardaí will be mounting high-visibility speed enforcement operations at some 1,322 locations nationally over the coming weekend, including many on rural roads which account for almost four out of five (78 per cent) of the 113 people killed on Irish roads so far this year.

Supt Murphy’s call on motorists to slow down was echoed by Minister of State at the Department of Transport Hildegarde Naughton who urged people to take particular care over the weekend when the clocks go back and it starts to get darker earlier.

Sam Waide, chief executive of the Road Safety Authority, also urged people to adjust their driving to the road conditions, pointing out that speed limits were not targets and motorists need to be particularly conscious of other vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists this weekend.

“The faster you drive, the more likely you are to be involved in a collision which could result in death or serious injury – this is particularly true for vulnerable road users – if hit at 60km/h, nine out of 10 pedestrians will be killed whereas if they are hit at 30km/h, nine out of 10 will survive.”

Speaking in Cork at the launch of the slow down enforcement operation, Mr Waide also reminded people that with the clocks going back visibility of vulnerable road users will be further reduced and urged pedestrians and cyclists to make sure they can be seen.

“Cyclists and pedestrians can increase their visibility on the roads by wearing reflective clothing – in dark clothing, a pedestrian or cyclist is only likely to be visible 30m in low-beam headlights – by wearing something reflective, they become visible 150m away, the length of a football pitch.”

Trauma cases

Prof Conor Deasy, consultant in emergency medicine at Cork University Hospital, said there was clear evidence internationally and in Ireland that slowing down did lead to a reduction in fatalities and serious injury collisions and while things had improved, people should not be complacent.

“In the 1990s, some 60 per cent of major trauma cases were as a result of road traffic collisions. Now it’s 18 per cent and that’s down to safer cars and better designed roadways, but we still have trouble on secondary roads where you can drive at 80km/h and where you have pedestrians and cyclists.

“Even serious injury collisions can have a devastating impact – when a driver hits a pedestrian or hits a cyclist, the guilt associated with injuring somebody else is often greater than the burden of the injury sustained by the person themselves. So the message has to be clear – slow down.”