Thursday 29 September 2016

How you can help prevent deaths on Euro roads for one day at least

Our Road Safety Authority expert tells how you can sign up to change your attitudes and habits

Published 24/08/2016 | 02:30

You can make a pledge to change a specific attitude or behaviour
You can make a pledge to change a specific attitude or behaviour

Despite the recent carnage on our roads, where there were 11 deaths in five days, there have been times this year when road users have prevented deaths from happening.

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They go largely unreported but we had two weekends in June and one in August where no deaths occurred.

Given that six-out-of-10 deaths happen at the weekend, it was a great achievement to keep them free of tragedy. It is important to acknowledge that people's efforts to stay safe are making a difference. It is important to say this because, after such a bad week recently we may begin to question progress in road safety.

There was a time when 11 dead in five days was normal, the general consensus being that road accidents happen - that's just the way it is. Our attitudes have changed dramatically and society no longer accepts that death and serious injury are an inevitable consequence.

We don't refer to them as accidents any more because they are far from acts of God. We will unfortunately have more weeks like the one in late July. What is important is that they become less and less frequent. And if they happen they should galvanise us into action so we never become complacent.

Something similar seems to be happening in Europe. After years of progress, plans to reduce deaths by 50pc by 2020 across Europe are faltering.

One of the agencies to express a concern about this rise is the TISPOL Organisation, which represents the Traffic Police of 30 countries across Europe.

The Garda and the RSA work closely with TISPOL to ensure our enforcement and education plans are not only aligned at a national level but right across Europe.

So when enforcement campaigns are mounted to tackle speeding, drink or drug driving and mobile phone use in this country, they mirror activity across the continent.

A practical example is when we join with out-of-state enforcement agencies to mount simultaneous operations to target goods and passenger vehicles at border and entry points in this and other European countries.

The European Commission says: "Studies and research have shown that, to achieve a significant improvement in compliance with the rules by road users, an overall approach is needed which combines police checks with education and awareness campaigns for users."

That's why TISPOL has responded to the rise in deaths across Europe to call for a day of action on road safety. Called project EDWARD, it is designed to raise awareness of the increase in deaths, and mobilise road users across Europe into action to reverse the trend.

It is a high-profile way of reminding everyone that there is a great deal of hard work going on across Europe towards 2020 casualty reduction goals.

TISPOL's Project Edward calls on everyone to make 21st September 2016 a European Day Without A Road Death.

European Day Without A Road Death encourages all road users to seriously reflect on their attitude and behaviour.

But TISPOL want you to do just more than reflect.

They want you to visit their website and to make a pledge to change a specific attitude or behaviour.

Basically what are you going to do to help achieve safer roads.

By getting people to sign up publicly to doing something positive, we can hopefully create a momentum behind the campaign and make a difference.

The goal is that no one should die on the roads of Europe on Wednesday, September 21, 2016.

So whether you represent a government department, a public agency, a private company, a charity, a school, college or university, or whether you simply care as an individual, please join us and others across Europe and make the pledge to support Project EDWARD. Do your bit to reduce risk and improve safety for the people who use our roads.

A decade ago I would have thought that a weekend free of deaths in this country was highly unlikely. We have had three in the last two months. So is it unreasonable to hope for a day, across Europe where nobody dies?

Visit www.tispol.org and make your pledge.

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