High visibility: sight for dark days
Shocking new figures have revealed the dangers of the dark winter months on Irish roads with 89 pedestrians and eight cyclists killed or seriously injured between October and March last year.
The new analysis carried out by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) comes as the agency joins forces with the Sunday Independent to give away more than 300,000 high-visibility armbands free in today's edition.
The distribution of the armbands is part of a major road safety campaign to protect pedestrians and cyclists in these dark winter months, backed by RSA chairman Gay Byrne.
Winter is more dangerous for walkers and cyclists than any other season as poor light and weather conditions make the roads more dangerous.
One in every five road deaths in Ireland is a pedestrian and 12 cyclists are killed on average each year.
Veteran broadcaster Gay Byrne, chairman of the RSA said: "Pedestrians and cyclists are vulnerable when out on the roads. It is of critical importance that they can be seen in these dark winter months. The only way to be seen is to wear reflective clothing such as a hi-vis jacket, armband or carry a torch."
"A high-visibility jacket can be seen at a distance of 500m by an oncoming vehicle. That's the length of almost four football pitches and gives a driver plenty of time to react to you on the road. If you do not wear a high visibility jacket, a vehicle will not see you until you are 50 metres away -- that's the halfway line and that can be too late for the driver to react."
"It is not only walkers and cyclists who have a responsibility on the roads. Motorists need to be aware of walkers and cyclists, and expect them around every corner.
Mr Byrne urged drivers to expect the unexpected. "You never know who or what is waiting for you around the next corner.
"The best thing a motorist can do is to slow down. Reducing speed could be the difference between life and death for a pedestrian or cyclist."
That advice is based on research which shows that nine times out of 10 a pedestrian will be killed if hit by a car at 60kmh. At 30 kmh just one out of 10 pedestrians will be fatally injured.