Sunday 22 October 2017

Ten things we can ALL do to make our roads a little safer

Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

I'm departing from normal just for this week because I've felt compelled to do this for a long time now. Call it conscience or guilt. I've been asking myself: what if I could (I emphasise: could) help someone avoid a nasty experience on the road? I'm not assuming anything other than that people might be a little more aware or change what they normally do. Worth trying.

I've been watching and listening. I see trends emerging, as I'm sure you do. I get wheelbarrow-loads of mails and messages from people angry or concerned about what passes for driving by some people.

So I'll try to pinpoint 10 things we can ALL do to make things a bit safer. I've left it until now because more of us will be driving, cycling or walking in darker, wetter, more dangerous conditions. It is a personal list and as much a reminder for me in some areas as anyone else.

Here goes.

1. Mobile phones

We've got to stop using them at the wheel. Think of trying to drive with one hand tied behind your back. Or your eyes closed. It's much the same thing. If it is so important that you should take a call, then pull over and give it your full attention. Driving requires your full attention. A second's distraction at 100km/h means you travel 'blind' for 88 feet. That is how much ground you are covering. PLEASE, if you do nothing else this week – STOP.

2. Children

Please make sure they are securely strapped into your car. I am shocked at how often I see them given the freedom of the cabin by otherwise doting and loving mothers and fathers. But they are reckless mums and dads if they expose their children like this. Make sure the child-seats are properly secured, too.

3. Lights

Turn on your lights in the evenings. I have been amazed at the number of cars I've met over the past few weeks where people have driven off, under street lights, without a flicker of illumination on the car. Suddenly they are in darkness and can't see or they are in darkness and can't be seen. Really dangerous.

4. Thought for deed

Just because you indicate does not give you the right to do what you are signalling. Two narrow escapes for me have taught me that people are not really thinking much of the time. They put on the indicator and straight away pull out. I would say I've never seen people so pre-occupied. And that is dangerous.

5. Shortcut cyclists

There are junctions and junctures where cyclists find themselves at the end of their track. There is always the temptation to cut in or out, or take a shortcut. Too many take a chance. Again, I'm taken aback at the numbers cycling at night without a light of any sort.

6. Pedestrian dodgers

You can't just dodge your way through traffic when crossing the road. Stop. It has reached the point of madness the way people feel they can take to the road while traffic flashes past them.

7. Roundabout horrors

We should all go back to our Rules of the Road. Nobody knows what to do in roundabouts. If you want to save yourself the price of a scary movie, watch the hair-raising antics at the Sandyford Industrial Estate roundabout any weekday morning.

8. Speed merchants

If we all knocked 10kmh off our speed, we'd be significantly safer. Not only that, there would be far fewer 'small' accidents and far fewer repair and touch-up bills. Believe me, as one who has cut back, you will feel a lot safer and in control behind the wheel.

9. Lane hoggers

For God's sake stop hanging out there on the outside lane of the dual-carriageway or motorway doing 70km/80km. It is ONLY FOR OVERTAKING. Got that? This causes huge angst and the dangerous practice of 'undertaking' (people overtaking on the inside).

10. Red runners

Stop running red lights. The whole place is at it. Two, three cars can pass through after the lights have gone red. Madness.

I feel better now, and I live in hope.

Let me know of any suggestions you might have.

Email: ecunningham@independent.ie Twitter: @ecunninghamcars

Irish Independent

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