Saturday 10 December 2016

Make sure you don't let local become lethal on our roads

Our RSA expert points to the much bigger risk of an accident on the roads that we use every day

Published 17/08/2016 | 02:30

Our biggest risk of killing or being killed is on regional and local roads
Our biggest risk of killing or being killed is on regional and local roads

Our chairperson has featured on a radio road safety advert this month. It gets home the point that in most cases crashes happen close to home, on roads we know well. The old saying 'familiarity breeds contempt' comes to mind.

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In the ad she says your biggest risk of killing or being killed is on regional and local roads. That's a double risk, of killing, or being killed. And on regional and local roads, that means a greater risk of killing someone you know, or someone you love, if you drink and drive, or speed.

So, it's vital we treat the roads we use most often with respect and appreciate the danger we could face, particularly in summertime. Don't allow local to become lethal.

One simple way of doing this is to be on guard for the unexpected. A classic example at this time of year is farm machinery exiting from fields and farm yards.

The farming community is in the thick of it at the moment. Second cuts of silage are being brought in and the grain harvest has started in many parts of the county.

The Irish Farmers Association estimates that in addition to the silage, 2.2 million tonnes of grain, oilseeds and protein crops and approximately 1.5 million tonnes of straw will be moving off the fields and into stores and yards.

If you drive in rural parts it is almost inevitable you will be caught behind at least one tractor and trailer on your journey.

It goes without saying we all need to take extra care as the number of tractors, trailers and other farm machinery using the roads increases dramatically.

By and large, credit must go to the majority of tractor drivers who, in my experience, pull over where it's safe and possible to let traffic pass.

If you do find yourself stuck in a line of vehicles following a tractor, please be patient and only overtake when it's safe and legal to do so.

Why not leave five minutes earlier than normal and give yourself some breathing space? If you are not under time pressure you're less likely to take any silly overtaking risks out of frustration.

While farmers have a job to do, they need to think about other road users too. If the traffic is building up behind, pull in where possible to allow it to pass safely.

Of course that's not the only hazard you can meet at this time of the year.

You are likely to encounter holiday makers, both staycationers and those from abroad driving a hire car, and you will need to be on your guard.

It's not unreasonable for visitors to be a bit hesitant when driving: a) because they are driving on unfamiliar roads, and; b) if they are from another country they will be trying to get used to driving a right-hand drive vehicle as well as getting familiar with our roads and signs.

But the most vulnerable people you need to watch out for are pedestrians, especially children, cyclists and motorcyclists.

While cycling two abreast is a big bone of contention between cyclists and drivers, it is really important for drivers to understand that cyclists are legally allowed to do this.

However, by exercising common sense, cyclists can also help the situation by considering cycling in single file where the road narrows considerably.

Everyone should share the available space in a safe and socially responsible way.

Either way, a driver must give adequate clearance space when overtaking cyclists and our advice is to give at least 1.5 metres and even more at higher speeds.

Overall, with a little patience and understanding all round, the roads can be a safer place for everybody.

And hopefully we can prevent a repetition of the horrific loss of life we witnessed in July when 21 people lost their lives on our roads.

Indo Motoring

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