Friday 28 October 2016

Let's make it a bank holiday to remember - for the right reasons

Weekend of high risk has claimed so many lives in the past. RSA expert highlights the dangers

Published 27/04/2016 | 02:30

Road safety chiefs have warned drivers to slow down over the bank holiday weekend
Road safety chiefs have warned drivers to slow down over the bank holiday weekend

The May bank holiday weekend is almost upon us and while that means an extra day for most of us to relax and unwind, it's a worrying time for the Road Safety Authority.

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Bank holidays are typically among the busiest periods on the road, simply because there are more road users out and about and usually they are travelling greater distances.

Over the bank holiday we also see more people out cycling, walking and biking. Weather permitting of course.

With all that extra traffic on the road it tends to make a bank holiday weekend one of the most dangerous times to use the road. The May holiday is no exception.

Casualty statistics show between 2010 and 2015, a total of 17 people died and 48 were seriously injured over that weekend.

It's shocking to think but there are most likely people going about their daily routine right now, who come Tuesday may not be with us or may be dealing with the prospect of coping with a serious injury for the rest of their lives.

If past May bank holiday weekends are anything to go by, this could be three lives lost and eight serious injuries.

This weekend we are joining forces with the gardaí to focus on the dangers of speeding.

Research shows that the speed at which you are travelling is probably the most important factor in determining the outcome and severity of a crash.

Whether you are speeding or just driving too fast for the conditions you are simply robbed of the ability to react in time to an emergency.

And this weekend you need to be on guard if holidaying in parts of the country that you are unfamiliar with. Because when on holiday's we all have a tendency to be less alert to danger.

If you are not traveling, you still need to expect the unexpected on local roads, which can be lethal if you are complacent.

Watching out for the tractor exiting a field or farm gate is just one obvious hazard to look out for as farmers take advantage of good weather to start the first cut of silage.

Excessive speed is one of the biggest contributory factors in collisions and unfortunately, our research highlights that it is still a big problem on Irish roads. Simply put, the faster you drive, the more likely you are to kill or seriously injure someone if you are involved in a collision.

This is particularly true of vulnerable road-users, such as pedestrians and cyclists.

Pedestrians have a 90pc chance of surviving an impact with a car at 30km/h or below; the chance of survival reduces to less than a 50pc at an impact of 50km/h or above.

I would urge drivers to slow down. If you have a long journey ahead of you, don't put yourself under pressure.

Set off early; it's inevitable you will be stuck in traffic.

Take your time and drive at a speed suitable for the conditions and your experience.

If you have a long trip don't forget to tank up in advance, you don't want to run out of fuel on the motorway. And make sure you have the toll fare handy so you are not rooting for it when you arrive at the toll plaza.

Driver tiredness is also a big problem on long journeys.

Don't forget to plan some stops along the way.

If you are fighting sleep, remember our latest campaign message, STOP, SIP, SLEEP.

That's STOP in a safe place, SIP a cup of coffee and get a 15-minute SLEEP.

Stretch your legs afterwards and you should be ok to drive for another one to two hours.

Of course if you are suffering from chronic lack of sleep the only cure is a good night's sleep. The RSA is teaming up with Applegreen again this year to help fight driver tiredness.

Between 2pm and 8pm on Bank Holiday Friday and Monday, drivers can get a free cup of coffee at participating Applegreen service stations around the country.

Drivers simply mention 'RSA' to the till operator and they will receive a free cup of coffee.

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