Go on, go on — take a break when driving

Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, Cllr Richard Finn launches the road safety message in Aras and Chontae in Castlebar.

Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, Cllr Richard Finn launches the road safety message in Aras and Chontae in Castlebar.

Bank holiday weekends are always busy on Ireland's roads because people want to go home or get away, and it is also a very busy weekend in sport with all GAA fans travelling to Dublin. As always, members of An Garda Síochána will be out in force as they do their very best to keep our roads as safe as possible but this year they have an extra helper getting the road safety message out there.

Father Ted's Mrs Doyle has changed her brew all for the cause of road safety, Mrs Doyle has ditched the teas bags for coffee to drive home a very important safety message this weekend. The legendary image of Pauline McLynn is set to dominate the west of Ireland's landscape with a plea go on, go on, take a break and have a cup of coffee as she appears along the roads of Mayo and Sligo. Mayo County Council and Sligo County Council are undertaking this initiative for this coming bank holiday weekend.

The county councils have teamed up with An Garda Siochana to organise a road safety campaign. The campaign has been given thumbs up by Pauline McLynn who played the part of Mrs Doyle in Father Ted and also by the production company, Hat Trick productions, which produced the show, giving the road safety office of Mayo County Council a licence to use the images. The campaign called "Go on, Go on Take a break" aims is to encourage drivers to plan their actions before they head out on their travels.

Road signs of Mrs Doyle will be erected around the county with the road safety slogans on them in an effort to remind drivers to freshen up by taking a break and to think about the consequences of driving tired. Sadly, many drivers are still falling into old habits, some of which can prove potentially lethal.

Mayo's road safety officer Noel Gibbons said the August Bank Holiday weekend is by far one of the busiest and, unfortunately, the deadliest weekends on the roads. Using the roads is one of the most dangerous things we do every day, and people do so in a fashion that comes as second nature to them. You can't under estimate the importance of stopping for a break for a cup of coffee.

Cathoirleach of Mayo CountyCouncil Cllr Richard Finn said: "This awareness campaign is more important for Ireland now than ever before because we are beginning to have long continuous stretches of motorway. Especially at this time of year, when people on holidays tend to drive long distances across the country, the dangers of fatigue are at their worst. Take regular breaks when you are driving long distances, share the driving if you can, and never ignore the tell-tale warning signs of fatigue. I experienced the effects of driver fatigue myself just last Sunday returning from the Mayo - Roscommon game so I pulled in and swapped places with my passenger."

Garda Inspector Joe McKeanna Castlebar said: "I have seen too many horrific injuries caused by people falling asleep at the wheel to take this lightly. Sleep related collisions tend to be more serious than other road collisions because the driver is unable to react before a crash. You don't fall asleep without a warning; if you are fighting to keep yourself awake, then get off the road."

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