Saturday 29 April 2017

Why Dublin cyclists and pedestrians are more at risk now than in winter

Our Road Safety Authority expert urges us all to make sure that we can be seen on the road
The brighter evenings can mean pedestrians and cyclists become complacent about their visibility
The brighter evenings can mean pedestrians and cyclists become complacent about their visibility

With the clocks gone forward since Sunday, we are starting to see a real stretch in the evenings. It means more time for people to get out and enjoy the fresh air.

However, the brighter evenings can mean pedestrians and cyclists become complacent about their visibility. Small changes, such as simply wearing a high visibility vest, can have a significant, life saving impact.

Pedestrians and cyclists are highly vulnerable. They need to pay extra attention to being seen. Although you can't be responsible for the way people drive, you can make yourself safer while out walking, jogging or cycling, by increasing your visibility to other road users.

It is critical you take every precaution to stay safe, whether walking, jogging or cycling.

The brighter evenings can mean pedestrians and cyclists become complacent about their visibility
The brighter evenings can mean pedestrians and cyclists become complacent about their visibility

Walking is a fundamental activity among all road users, with every journey having at least some element of pedestrian activity, whether it is from the car-park to the office or from the bus-stop to home. Sustainable transport strategies, Safer Routes to School programmes and the Green-Schools programmes all encourage it.

Road-wise pedestrians are safe pedestrians. Being road-wise means always wearing a reflective armband, high-visibility belt or other reflective or fluorescent clothing to help you to be seen from a distance. In addition, carrying a torch on country roads or in badly-lit locations is essential.

Cycling has never been more popular. It's efficient, fun and affordable. It reduces pollution, fuel bills, eases traffic congestion and is great exercise. As a cyclist, you can reduce your risk of injury or worse by following some simple advice:

• Never cycle in the dark without adequate lighting - white for front, red for rear

• Always wear bright clothing such as hi-vis vests, fluorescent armbands and reflective belts so other road users can see you.

Learning good road safety habits at an early age is important. Younger road users may be more receptive to, and likely to gain more long term benefit from, the lessons they learn that we, as parents or guardians, teach them.

Cyclist in high vis jacket - they are for use all year round
Cyclist in high vis jacket - they are for use all year round

Parents can educate children on the importance of road safety and ensure our youngest road users are kept safe by encouraging them to wear high visibility material when walking or cycling to school. If your child gets the bus to school, it's also important they can be seen at the bus stop by the driver and other road users.

It's not just pedestrians and cyclists who need to be seen during the brighter evenings. Drivers can do their bit also; turning on your dipped headlights during the day prevents collisions.

Using dipped headlights makes it easier to see oncoming vehicles in the distance and prevents daytime head-on and front-corner collisions.

Running your headlights during the day makes things safer for vulnerable road users.

For example, a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study in the US found it contributed to a 12pc decline in fatal collisions with pedestrians and cyclists in 2004.

Many vehicles come with Daytime Running Lights or DRLs as standard now but if your car doesn't have them, it's important to turn on your dipped headlights during the day.

As for pedestrians and cyclists, a hi-visibility jacket isn't just for winter time. They are for use all year round and it's just as important to wear them as the evenings get brighter and we move from spring to summer.

In fact you are probably more at risk as a pedestrian or cyclist during the brighter, and drier days of summertime than you are in winter.

And there can be no excuse about getting your hands on them either.

You can order them free of charge from rsa.ie.

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