Monday 5 December 2016

Breakdown packs: let us know what items you think should be in them

* The Road Safety Authority is looking at recommending emergency packs. Your views?

Published 13/05/2015 | 02:30

The Road Safety Authority is seeking the public's view on the possible introduction of compulsory emergency breakdown packs in cars
The Road Safety Authority is seeking the public's view on the possible introduction of compulsory emergency breakdown packs in cars

THIS week we want your views on whether or not there should be an emergency pack in cars. And what should be in that pack.

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There is no law here requiring you to carry a first-aid kit or other emergency pack items but that could be about to change. And it would be good to get your views.

One of the things the Government's Road Safety Strategy 2013-2020 proposes to make compulsory is a breakdown emergency pack to be carried in all vehicles. The pack could include a first-aid kit, a high visibility vest, a breakdown triangle and a torch.

The Road Safety Authority has been given the task of putting together recommendations and presenting them to the Minister for Transport. But before doing that we are keen to get the public's views.

Initial feedback from members of the emergency services suggests that using high-visibility vests and warning triangles in particular are likely to benefit road safety. Every year they have to deal with a number of incidents where a person or vehicle involved in a break-down at the roadside is hit by another vehicle causing a fatality or injury.

There is little evidence available on the safety impact of the inclusion of first-aid kits, high visibility vests, a breakdown triangle and a torch in vehicles. What we have been able to do is find out what's being done in other countries.

We looked at 37 countries and discovered that in the greater majority, a warning triangle is compulsory (30). High visibility vests are compulsory in 18, and first-aid kits in 13. In a further 10, first-aid kits are compulsory in commercial vehicles. There is only one country where a torch is compulsory.

We have an extensive network of rural, and often poorly-lit roads, so a torch in the car could be really useful. It could help drivers and passengers find a safe place away from on-coming traffic, and when changing a tyre. It could also help warn oncoming vehicles of your presence and reduce the possibility of a crash. A high-visibility jacket would also help.

Similarly, a warning triangle could help alert other road users to a potential hazard.

Other motorists would have plenty of advance warning and know that they needed to slow down.

Having a first-aid kit would mean a driver or passengers could attend to minor injuries in their own or another car. The benefits would depend on the skill and confidence of the people involved to administer basic first aid. But despite this people would have the basic equipment and with direction from ambulance dispatch centres, give first aid while awaiting the arrival of paramedics.

One option is to look at introducing the need for all vehicles to carry an emergency breakdown kit in all new cars registered from January 1 next, or for both new and existing cars from July 1, 2016.

Should the RSA ultimately recommend the inclusion of the emergency pack items in new vehicles, the cost may fall to either the car manufacturer or the dealer.

However, should the RSA recommend the inclusion of the emergency pack items in vehicles already in use, this may mean that drivers will need to buy the items.

The RSA believes that the inclusion of a high-visibility vest, a warning triangle, a first-aid kit and a torch would be good for road safety. What do you think? What should go into an emergency pack and who should it apply to?

We would like to hear your views, so log on to the consultation page of rsa.ie, download the proposals, and submit your feedback online. Contact Independent Motors: ecunningham@independent.ie

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