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Driven to distraction by careless pedestrians

Any motorists will tell you that an emerging nightmare on the road these days -- and nights -- is not so much other drivers, though of course they remain a major concern.

No, it is people out walking or staggering on to the road.

And now comes some justification for our fears. At least 15,300 pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists were killed in the EU in 2009, according to new research from the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC).

That makes it 169,000 since 2001. Road Safety Authority chief Noel Brett is right when he says we have an "ongoing problem" with drunken pedestrians. People can be so drunk that they stagger on to a road or, worse still, fall on it -- often with tragic consequences.

But perfectly sober people also cross the road without looking.

This report is both a boost to our confidence that we are making great strides in reducing the number of road deaths and highlights areas where we need to renew focus.

And vulnerable road users such as pedestrians -- either sober or intoxicated -- and cyclists remain in great danger. What can be done to improve matters? Reports such as this one help as does the general tone of Mr Brett's comments which appeal to all our better natures: if we see someone in distress or in a potentially dangerous state or situation then do something. Get them a taxi, off the road, call for help.

That is how lives are saved.

Irish Independent