Tuesday 12 December 2017

How some of us are walking ourselves into an early grave

*Our road safety expert says pedestrians must get back to basics when crossing the road

Cultural: Compared with other countries, Irish people have a more relaxed attitude to jaywalking.
Cultural: Compared with other countries, Irish people have a more relaxed attitude to jaywalking.
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

We need additional storage space in the warehouse at work, so I'd been asked to go through old boxes of road-safety material and to archive anything of historical interest.

I got stuck into the task and began sifting through boxes of old files on road safety that went back decades.

I don't get hugely nostalgic, but I have to say when I stumbled across an original 'Safe Cross Code' Teachers Pack, featuring Judge of 'Wanderly Wagon' fame, I had to smile.

Here was the original booklet with the 1, 2, 3 etc steps for the Safe Cross Code. Ah! and there was the same application form I would have filled out along with my class mates, which teacher posted off to get our safe cross code badges.

A blue badge with Judge himself on it. A must-have for any kid growing up in the 70s. Just like it was yesterday, the old TV ad came to life, the numbers crossing the road and Brendan Grace singing 'Remember, look for a safe place….'.

It really was a huge campaign and with just the one TV channel at the time, every child in the country saw it and knew the song off by heart.

There is a new Safe Cross Code teaching the children of today how to cross the road safely through song and dance.

They are also growing up with characters like the 'Seatbelt Sheriff' and 'Hi-Glo Silver', who teach them the importance of wearing seatbelts and being seen on the road. There is a real need to re-enforce the road safety messages around crossing the road. Because some of us are simply not putting into practice elementary road safety, the stuff we learned as children.

Drive through any city or town and you will see people just dashing across the road as if playing chicken with the oncoming cars. I saw a jogger do it on Leeson St recently, running in front and between moving cars as if running a gauntlet. And with ear phones.

Are we becoming more careless as pedestrians or have we always had a cultural problem when it comes to crossing the road? Compared with other countries, we certainly have a completely different and more relaxed attitude to jay walking.

The collision figures show pedestrian fatalities increased from 31 to 42 last year - split evenly between men and women.

In 13 cases, a pedestrian was killed while crossing the road. In four further cases, the Garda report said the pedestrian 'stepped out into the road'. Pedestrians are most vulnerable during the first and last quarter of the year.

November and December 2014 were particularly dangerous for pedestrians, with 13 fatalities occurring in this two-month period.

The greatest number of occurred in Dublin (12). In 16 cases, the conditions were described by the Garda as 'daylight with good visibility', in 13 cases the conditions were dark with poor/no lighting, and in nine cases it was dark, but the lighting was good.

In the majority of cases, a car was involved (27). Vans were involved in six fatal collisions, articulated trucks in three.

Where the age of the pedestrian was known, it is clear there is a higher rate among younger and older people.

Those aged 60+ are particularly vulnerable, with 17 deaths in this age category, representing 40pc of all pedestrian deaths.

There were seven pedestrian deaths among children aged under 14. The greater majority (7 in 10) fatalities occurred on urban roads with a speed limit of 50kmh or lower.

The speed of the driver, unsafe crossing by the pedestrian, running across the road and lack of observation by the driver and or the pedestrian are common themes that emerge.

We need to remind ourselves of what we learned in primary school. The Safe Cross Code isn't just for children.

It's for life.

Indo Motoring

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