Monday 23 April 2018

Road safety warning: Don't be a ghost, a 'sombie', or a drunk pedestrian

Every week, our RSA expert raises issues seen on Irish roads. This week, the focus is on the worrying increase in numbers killed while walking on our roads

Photo posed
Photo posed

The evenings and mornings are brighter. For many it's time to get outside and stretch those legs. But just because it's getting brighter and the weather is improving doesn't mean it's any safer to use the road.

Motorists and cyclists are regularly targeted for road safety messaging, but we must not neglect the most vulnerable of all road users, pedestrians. To date, pedestrians killed in road traffic crashes represent 30pc of road deaths this year. Most were over the age of 70. This time last year only one pedestrian over 70 was killed.

As we move into spring, it will inevitably become brighter during rush-hour traffic both in the morning and in the evening. However, we must not become complacent in our efforts to remain visible on the roads. The road safety mantra - be safe, be seen - has never been more relevant.

Walking is a fantastic way to exercise, and you don't have to spend a fortune on gear and equipment, but it's important to remain vigilant if you are out pounding the pavements. While you can't be responsible for the way people drive, as a pedestrian, you can do something to make yourself safer.

Whether it's walking to work or walking your children to school, the most important thing is to stop, look and listen. It was the first road safety lesson we learnt in school. That and not to cross the road between parked cars.

If you live in a town or city, always cross at a pedestrian crossing or traffic lights. If you are living in the countryside where there is no footpath, walk on the right-hand side of the road, facing oncoming traffic and keeping as close as possible to the side of the road. Never cross at a bend.

Research shows that a sizeable portion of fatal pedestrian collisions occur at night. As a pedestrian, you may hear a car coming and see its lights, but the driver may not see you, because wearing dark clothing means you are a 'ghost', invisible in the darkness.

Wearing high-visibility material such as a vest, jacket or Sam Browne belt, is the simplest way to make sure you can be seen by other road users when you are out walking.

On country roads it is important to carry a torch when walking in the dark. If you don't have one handy, use the torch on your mobile phone.

Don't have a high-vis jacket? Visit rsa.ie and you can order one free of charge.

It's a sobering fact, but drunken pedestrians are a source of danger to themselves and other road users. When you're walking under the influence of alcohol, you're unsteady on your feet, making it more difficult to cross safely.

It's sad but true that every year we hear stories of drunk pedestrians, also wearing dark clothing, collapsing in the middle of the road and being run over by unsuspecting drivers.

A drunk pedestrian is also more likely to step out unexpectedly into the path of an oncoming vehicle as judgment of distance and speed is seriously compromised.

If you have had one too many, don't attempt to walk home - use a taxi, public transport or get a lift from a (non-drinking) friend.

Aside from alcohol and other influencing factors, smartphones may also play a role in distracting pedestrians. The rise of the 'sombie' or 'smart phone zombie' has been widely reported lately - the phenomenon of pedestrians walking around the streets 'blinded' because they are scrolling on social media apps or messaging friends using smartphones.

Pedestrians may also be wearing headphones, which means they aren't able to hear motorists approaching.

We constantly talk about the responsibility that motorists have when using the road, but pedestrians too have a duty to ensure they respect their own safety and the safety of other road users.

Indo Motoring

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