The Road Safety Authority (RSA) and An Garda Síochána have launched a new road safety campaign calling on road users to be extra cautious and alert to others on the road.
The appeal comes as traffic volumes increase following the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions allowing intercounty travel to resume.
The Road Back campaign is reminding road users that the easing of travel restrictions will mean more cars are back on the road, and with numbers of pedestrians and cyclists having increased significantly over the last year, the need to always be on the lookout for other road users is essential.
With people being encouraged to have an outdoors summer, the RSA and An Garda Síochána are calling on road users to pay attention and make the road a safer place for everyone.
Minister of State at the Department of Transport Hildegarde Naughton said: “It is positive news to see the relaxation of travel restrictions. We have all worked so hard to get this public health crisis under control and can now look forward to getting back on the road and enjoying intercounty travel once again.
"But we need to continue to put safety first. Road safety is also a major public health issue, and we are asking for the same commitment from all road users to saving lives on our roads. Whether you are a motorist, pedestrian or a cyclist, please keep your focus on the road, stay alert for other road users and help us all to get back on the road safely.”
Sam Waide, CEO of the Road Safety Authority, said: “I know so many people are looking forward to being able to travel further distances, see family and friends, visit places they haven’t been for some time. We want to make sure that each of these trips ends safely.
"There is now a changed environment on our roads, with more people out walking and cycling. It is more important than ever that we share the roads and be mindful of vulnerable road users and one another.
"Drivers, please be alert to other road users, watch out for motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians. Slow down when passing pedestrians and cyclists. We know that it might be the first time back on the roads for a lot of people, so we encourage you to put safety first by checking your tyres, oil and lights. Get your mind in gear for driving again so that the road back is a safer place for everyone.”
Chief Superintendent Ray McMahon, National Roads Policing at An Garda Síochána, said: “We appreciate that the vast majority of road users act responsibly when driving, but even a slight lapse in concentration can have very serious results. You never know when a pedestrian might step off the pavement or a cyclist might need to avoid an obstacle. It’s about expecting the unexpected and reading the road ahead.
"We are reminding drivers to remember the simple things – keep within speed limits, make sure to put on your seatbelt before setting off, put your phones away and stay focused on the road ahead, remaining vigilant of vulnerable road users.”
Many motorists will be driving their vehicle after a prolonged absence from the roads due to travel restrictions. Drivers are being asked to slow down, avoid distractions while driving and to be alert to pedestrians and cyclists, taking care when passing.
The RSA is asking motorists to think safety first, refamiliarise themselves with their vehicle before setting off and ensure they are comfortable behind the wheel. Pedestrians are being reminded to wear appropriate high visibility clothing and always walk on the footpath, or if there isn’t one, on the right-hand side of the road facing oncoming traffic.
In addition, the RSA and An Garda Síochána are reminding car owners to make sure their vehicle, which may not have been driven for some time, is roadworthy by undertaking some basic maintenance checks in advance of setting off. With many people working from home, they may be out of the habit of driving.
To date in 2021, a total of 45 people have died on Irish roads, eight less than the same period in 2020.
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