Thursday 24 January 2019

TD warns of dangers of quad bikes and scramblers

Speaking in the Dail recently, Brendan Ryan TD (LAB) gave his support for the Road Traffic (Quads and Scramblers) (Amendment) Bill 2017, which would restrict the use of scrambler motorcycles and quads in public places.

This was a problem, he said, which had become 'more and more prevalent' in the past five years, and was an issue facing areas of Fingal, including Balbriggan beach, Donabate and Portmarnock, 'to name but a few.'

In the past three years alone, he said, over 180 people had been injured in accidents involving 'off-road' vehicles, including 39-year-old Amenian Ilabek Avetian, who was left in a vegetative state when a scrambler motorcycle landed on him in a Dublin park last June.

'While the Road Traffic Act 1961 restricts the usage of these off-road vehicles to public places', he said, 'it has always been interpreted to mean only public roads.'

'However', he added, 'as the public knows, a percentage of owners unlawfully use their off-road vehicle in public spaces such as parks, green spaces, housing estates and other public and private properties.'

'When they do', he said, 'they endanger pedestrians with the erratic and rash driving of their vehicle.

'There have been reports on such vehicles unlawfully being used in anti-social behaviour in Ward River Valley Park in Swords, in my constituency, and areas in Fingal such as Balbriggan beach, Donabate and Portmarnock, to name just a few.'

He added: 'In Ward River Valley Park in Swords, scrambler users have been known to follow a so-called 'circuit', which involves them exiting the park on the path to make a loop in an adjoining estate and then turning sharply back into the park.

'It is the most dangerous grand prix I can imagine and only a matter of time before tragedy strikes at this location.'

The Deputy said that people did not feel safe in shared public spaces, and that the Bill effectively includes all of these areas within the jurisdiction of the Garda to deal with the problem.

Deputy Ryan explained: 'If individuals cannot drive responsibly, it not only puts others in danger but also themselves.'

He added that 'by restricting where these vehicles can lawfully be driven, we can hold drivers accountable to ensure they engage in safe driving practices, not just for the safety of the public but also for their own safety'.

It was important that the issue be dealt with nationally through the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and the Department of Justice and Equality, the Deputy added, saying it was 'essential' that the Government address the issue.

The Labour TD said: 'With Christmas approaching, we know about the sad inevitability of parents buying these off-road vehicles for their children who are often much too young.'

He concluded: ' Christmas Day is a day for families, opening presents and eating a meal together, not sitting in a hospital worrying about the state of one's child, mother, father or friend who was involved in a quad bike or scrambler motorcycle accident.'

Fingal Independent