Friday 19 April 2019

RSA expert: An indication of how poor we are at signalling what we're going to do

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A radio slot I really enjoy listening to every week is the round-up of what's making the headlines in the regional newspapers.

The review is delivered by former Munster Express deputy editor and news editor John O'Connor every Friday on Mary Wilson's RTE Radio 1 Drivetime programme.

As someone who lives in rural Ireland, having decentralised over a decade ago (around here, a D-reg on a car means decentralised, not Dublin), John is one of my all-time heroes.

He flies the flag for rural Ireland and gives air to the day-to-day social, economic and cultural issues that people face living outside Dublin.

What's all this to do with road safety?

Well, one of the most memorable stories I heard John recount on the show, a good few years ago now, was about a case involving two drivers involved in a car crash on a quiet country road.

Car A rear-ended car B. The driver of car A said car B, without warning or indicating, suddenly made a left hand turn into a laneway, giving him no time to react or stop his car safely.

When the driver of car B was asked why he didn't indicate, his memorable reply was: "Sure everybody knows where I live."

Now, I've no idea what the outcome of the case was and I'm not getting into who was right and who was wrong.

I'm raising it to merely make a point about the poor track record we have in using indicators.

On a recent trip to Dublin, I was shocked at the number of drivers weaving in and out of lanes at speed and squeezing into limited space between vehicles.

It was really bad on the multi-lane dual carriageway leading onto the M50, and on the M50 itself.

Many drivers either didn't use an indicator or, if they did, the indicator went on as the driver was already turning the steering wheel.

Crazy stuff.

Following behind, I found my safe braking space being constantly invaded by these drivers, who insinuated themselves in front, nearly taking the nose off my car in the process.

The increasing number of drivers who do not use their indicators - or if they do use them, it's as an afterthought - is a growing problem that is creating headaches for drivers.

We are seeing an increase in the number of people contacting us about it.

Their concerns are over the lack of basic knowledge of the rules of the road and courtesy shown to other drivers.

The fact that it could lead to crashes is their biggest concern.

Perhaps we need to give serious thought to a campaign to promote proper use of indicators and consideration for other drivers before this deteriorates further.

This would include reminding drivers that whenever they are manoeuvring, whether on roundabouts, cornering, overtaking, or turning left or right, when changing lanes they must give proper signalling so they can alert other road users about their intents.

It's simple. You must always signal before changing course.

The law requires you to signal properly before moving off, turning right or left, changing lanes, overtaking, slowing down or stopping.

We always advise drivers to 'mirror, signal, mirror, manoeuvre' when changing their lane or direction.

Whenever you consider changing position or speed, always check first what is happening to the front, sides and behind you.

Be aware of the speed and position of all traffic around you and adjust your own speed to fit in with traffic conditions.

Take in all the information available to you from traffic signs, traffic lights and road markings.

You must always check your mirrors at this point.

Check blind spots too.

Signal clearly and in good time before you start to manoeuvre.

Indicators are there to give a warning of a future intention to change direction, not to announce a fait accompli.

We don't all know where you live and we can't read your mind.

Irish Independent

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