The June Bank Holiday is approaching and with an expected increase of people on the roads over the course of the long weekend, the Garda Siochana is urging the public to be mindful of their safety and the safety of others when driving.
So far in County Galway there have been three road fatalities and four people left seriously injured from road collisions this year.
While these numbers are down on the same period last year, Pat Murray, the Regional Traffic Superintendent for the Western Garda Region, is still urging road users in Galway to adhere to road safety legislation, while also insisting that there will be an advanced Garda presence on the roads over the four days.
As part of this increased presence, the Garda will enforce a national speed enforcement operation entitled ‘Operation Slow Down’ for a 24 hour period between 7am tomorrow May 30 and 7am Saturday May 31. The campaign will see both “overt and covert enforcing of road traffic legislation” in the form of speed checkpoints, cameras, and other speed enforcement technology across the city and county, during the day and night.
“With Operation Slow Down, we are asking the public to make a conscious effort to engage with us and to reduce their speed on the roads,” the superintendent said. “In most cases, driver error is the cause of road collisions, serious injury, and fatalities, so a person’s safety really is in their own hands. A one per cent reduction in speed accounts for a four per cent reduction in accidents on the road.”
According to Murray, the main ‘life saver’ offences they will be targetting include drunk driving, speeding, failure to wear a seatbelt, and the use of mobile phones and electronic devices, which he calls distraction driving. He confirmed that in the first four months of the year the Gardai had made 177 arrests for drink driving, in addition to detecting more than 2,000 people speeding, 264 people not wearing their seatbelts, and approximately 1,000 people using their mobile phones while driving. New legislation introduced under the 2006 Road Traffic Act this month means that the offence on being detected using a mobile phone while driving can only be dealt with by court appearance.
“Considering this distraction driving accounts for between 20 per cent and 30 per cent of road accidents, it is a significant contributor to road fatalities and serious injury collisions,” said Murray. “We have had three specific enforcement days for mobile phone usage while driving, one in March and two in April, and it is clear that people are still not getting the message. Enforcement is one of the tools in our armoury, and whether we like it or not, we have to use it.”
‘Operation Slow Down’ will come into force from 7am tomorrow.