Beware summer time: it's worst period for loss of life on our roads
* Grim predictions of fatalities from Road Safety Authority based on trends from previous years
Published 20/05/2015 | 02:30
People always find it surprising when we say that summer is the most dangerous time of the year to use the road. People assume there are more risks in the winter time because of the poor weather, road conditions and more hours of darkness.
In reality, it is the obvious risks that make winter safer. We are more cautious when faced with the challenges of using the roads.
In the summer, when there are no obvious dangers, and the weather is fine and days brighter, we relax.
In the last five years, 256 people have died in June, July and August. Over the next three months it is likely that we will lose another 51 lives.
If last year's pattern of fatalities is repeated this will probably mean vulnerable road users will be disproportionately represented.
Cyclists and pedestrians, particularly children and older people, will be among them.
Motorcyclists will account for a proportion. There will be driver and passenger deaths too. The failure to wear a seatbelt will, sadly, probably be a factor in some.
From the June bank-holiday weekend onwards the roads are going to be busy with local festivals, sporting events and people travelling on breaks. More people will be out walking and cycling.
There will also be an increase in the number of tractors using the roads, especially as the silage-cutting season gets under way.
If stuck behind a tractor, please, please be patient and don't be tempted into any foolish or rash overtaking. Look out for machinery leaving fields and farm yards.
Farmers need to be safety conscious too. If the traffic is building up behind, keep left where safe to allow others pass safely.
If you are planning on holidaying at home it's only natural for a driver getting in the holiday mood to relax. But when driving on unfamiliar roads, it can be a dangerous mix.
We should also be aware we will be sharing the roads with foreign tourists who may not be used to driving on the left.
When towing another vehicle, including a caravan or maybe a boat trailer, remember it will affect the way the car performs. Caravans increase fuel consumption, decrease its acceleration and braking ability, and can affect its general control.
Remember, a vehicle speed limit of 80kmh applies to towing vehicles. Fit extension mirrors for adequate unobstructed vision in both car door wing mirrors.
Plan frequent breaks to avoid tiredness. If you are travelling on the Friday of the June or August bank holidays, Applegreen will provide free cups of coffee to drivers between 2pm and 8pm at any of their 17 participating service stations. Simply mention the 'RSA' at the till.
There is also a spike in pedestrian, cyclist and motorcyclist casualties over the summer months. As drivers, we need to be on the lookout for them. Slow down and expect the unexpected.
A concern this year, as with the previous two years, is the number of motorcycle deaths.
Half of all crashes involving motorcyclists are caused by other drivers.
The rule of thumb should be, look once for cars and look twice for bikes. This is especially important when turning at a junction, overtaking and when joining a major road from a minor one.
When the weather is warm, it's tempting to wear jeans and a t-shirt when motorcycling. But if not wearing proper gear, you risk horrific injuries if you come off the bike.
Enjoy the summer - but take even more care.