Monday 19 August 2019

RSA: 'Why we need great care and vigilance as thousands of GAA supporters take to the roads for the big matches'

Whoever lifts championship, make sure safety is the winner

On the move: Travelling GAA fans mean busy roads every weekend over the course of the championship campaign
On the move: Travelling GAA fans mean busy roads every weekend over the course of the championship campaign

RSA Expert

The journey to Croker used to be a lot more demanding. Not for the inter-county stars who battled their way through game after game to reach Jones Road each September, but instead, the supporters who travelled the highways and by-ways to support their idols.

Stories of men and women hitting the road on bikes, special trains, crowds piled into the backs of vans were legion in the middle of the last century.

Anyone born in the 70s or 80s will tell you of hair-raising journeys with half-a-dozen children loaded into the back of the car with barely a thought of a seatbelt among them.

Thankfully though, while some might argue the fare on the pitch isn't what it was 'back in the day', it is a lot safer getting to the big match in 2019.

While it was fun for the children in the back (when they were awake) to list down all the towns they would pass through on the way to a provincial final or better yet, an All-Ireland semi-final or final in Dublin, the improvements in the roads' network have made it far smoother for those driving to ensure everyone gets to the venue safely.

Over the past few weeks the GAA championship has kicked into gear; it is an exciting time of year both for players and their supporters. Supporters will be preparing all week for the big day, many making long trips to cheer on their county.

With the roads so busy every weekend over the course of the campaigns, it is also worth bearing in mind the importance of road safety on these trips. Ulster GAA has some excellent advice for fans travelling to and from matches this summer.

As part of its ongoing 'Live to Play' initiative, supporters can take a number of steps to ensure they stay safe on the road this season.

Tiredness not only negatively affects players' performance, it can also seriously affect motorists' ability behind the wheel.

Driver fatigue is estimated to contribute to one-in-five deaths here. Drivers suffering from a lack of sleep are at risk of 'nodding off' while driving and substantially increasing the risk of being involved in a crash.

A survey carried out by Red C for Liberty Insurance last year found GAA supporters were extremely likely to drive with little sleep, with almost 52pc saying they have driven on fewer than five hours 'sleep. If you do become tired while driving follow these three steps: STOP, SIP and SLEEP:

:: Stop your car in a safe place;

:: Sip a caffeine drink and;

:: Sleep for 15-20 minutes.

This should enable you to continue driving for another hour or so but remember the only way to fight fatigue is a good night's sleep.

Where possible, take turns car-pooling driving to, and from, games which will help share the burden.

As a driver you have a responsibility to be disciplined. Say no if asked to give a lift home to another supporter if the car is already full.

You should only have as many people in your car as you have seatbelts.

And everyone should wear one as it significantly increases your chance of survival if involved in a collision.

We know alcohol negatively impacts sports performance and we also know that it seriously impairs driving ability.

Whether celebrating a win or commiserating a loss, don't drink if you are going to drive.

Drink driving not only has consequences for your sporting career, but you are also risking your life and others.

The GAA is part of every community, and every community in Ireland has been affected by a road traffic collision.

Communities come together at important times, in celebration when their team gets to the final stages of the championship and in sorrow when there is a tragic loss of life.

Keep the thrills on the pitch and off our roads.

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