Ten things you need to make this a safe Christmas on the road
Our Road Safety Authority expert outlines how easily we can lose sight of safety this time of year.
is an extraordinary achievement that after such a bad year on the roads last year we, as a nation, have managed to turn this around and, maybe, road deaths for this year will be at their lowest recorded level.
It’s a testament to the commitment and motivation of so many people all around the country who have taken steps to change their behaviour for the better.
This Christmas, please God, fewer families will be grieving the loss of a loved one in a road collision, thanks to your efforts.
To be honest, it’s hard to believe the festive season is already here.
As I write, families are planning their journeys home, to gather in villages and towns to meet friends and loved ones and catch up on another year gone by.
The roads will be busy, and along with this increased traffic on the roads, the likelihood of a collision will be greater.
As the year ends, we’re relaxed, our guard is down, and it’s easy to slip back in to old ways of doing things:
• texting behind the wheel;
• saying to ourselves: “Ah sure, it’s Christmas, I’ll just have the one”;
• pressing the accelerator a little harder to get somewhere quicker.
We all know we shouldn’t do these, it’s too much of a risk. But we may need to be reminded sometimes of what contributes to the deaths and injuries on our roads.
So, in the interest of keeping you and your family safe this Christmas, here are 10 things NOT to do on the roads.
1 Don’t drink and drive
Drink-driving is still a significant killer.
Contrary to what many people might think, the problem has not gone away.
There is no point in trying to work out how much alcohol you can have without being over the limit, or how quickly you can metabolise drink based on your body weight or what you had for dinner.
Don’t take chances – leave the car at home and get a taxi or use public transport.
And, don’t forget, you could still be over the limit the next morning, so take appropriate measures.
2 Don’t speed
Speed is another big contributor to fatalities on our roads.
Drivers need to take responsibility and drive at a safe speed that is appropriate to the particular road, the conditions and their driving experience, while not exceeding the speed limit.
3 Don’t use a phone while driving
This is the most worrying of the high-risk behaviours because it’s just so common.
Yet, using a phone while driving makes you four times more likely to crash and a split second is all it takes.
Put the phone away and concentrate on your driving. No call is worth the risk.
4 Don’t travel in a car without putting on a seatbelt
In the event of a collision, a seatbelt is the first line of defence.
It could be the difference between death or injury, so every time you sit in the car, put yours on.
And make sure everyone else in the car is buckled up too.
5Don’t drive while tired
It can so easily happen, we’ve all been there. You’ve been driving for a couple of hours, you’re almost home and the tiredness has started to creep in.
Don’t take the risk. Pull over, have a coffee and take a short nap. You should then be ok to drive for another hour or so.
6 Don’t walk, cycle or bike the roads without being visible to other road-users
Reflective material increases your chances of being seen, so get your high-vis vest, jacket, Sam Brown belt on before you hit the roads.
7 Don’t allow yourself to be distracted while driving
It’s easy to turn your attention away from the road when your child is calling for you.
But the safest thing you can do for yourself and them is to keep your eyes on the road at all times.
Wait until there is a safe place to stop, check that your child is ok and then start your journey again. Don’t spend a lifetime looking back.
8 Don’t ignore the rules of the road
Cycling through a red light, not stopping at a stop sign, using roads and roundabouts incorrectly – these might seem like small deviations, but they could put you or other road users in danger.
Follow the rules of the road at all times. They are there for your safety.
9 Don’t drive the same way in all conditions
As we all know from the recent treacherous weather, driving in heavy rain or floods can be nerve-wracking and dangerous.
Drivers and other road users must modify their speed and driving behaviour accordingly.
10 Don’t be inconsiderate
Not showing respect for other road users. The roads are a shared space – we all have to use them at some point, whether as a driver, cyclist, pedestrian or motorcyclist.
None of us has the right to behave in a way that will make it dangerous for other road users.
So treat those around you with respect, give them time and space to perform manoeuvres, and share the roads safely.
The Road Safety Authority works hard to keep us safe.
We can’t say we are not aware because everywhere you look, listen or read there is some sort of a safety warning, alert or message.
If the number of road deaths falls this year, it will be in no small measure due to the efforts of the many who work behind the scenes.
It will also be due to the enforcement of laws where it matters – on the road.
The gardai get a lot of stick for many things – for ‘shooting fish in a barrel’ speed checks.
That may be, but it should not detract or distract from critical work across the board.
Without their many checks – for speed and for drink-driving – how many people would have gone to their deaths this year?
l Independent Motors wishes all involved in road safety and saving lives a peaceful Christmas.