After a weekend of carnage on our roads, the Mayo Road Safety Working together Group have issued a road safety appeal to everyone attending the Mayo Stages Rally on Sunday, March 8, in the Castlebar area saying that road safety is everyone’s responsibility and there is one essential ingredient required for everyone’s safety and that is personnel responsibility.
True motorsport fans come and go to these rally events and no one would ever know they attended but unfortunately these events also attract a small cohort of boy racers and girl racers that attend these events and perform types of behaviour that cause a negative impact on the local community and although those who engage in these activities may regard them as ‘fun’, this view is not shared by those who have to endure it according to a statement issued by Mayo County Council this week.
Cathaoirleach of the Roads and Transportation Strategic Policy Commitee, Cllr Damien Ryan stated: "We are fully aware that in Ireland young people, and especially young men, are much more likely to be killed on our roads. The Mayo Road Safety Working Group is committed to promoting road safety but tragically young men are over represented in road deaths in Ireland. The Rally enthusiasts are predominantly young men, and we want to get the message directly to this ‘at risk’ group who follow the sport.
"Just like any other sport, there is a time and a place for Rally driving. The Rally enthusiasts are predominantly young men but has a growing female following and we want to talk directly to this 'at risk' group who follow the sport.
"Just like any other sport, there is a time and a place for Rally driving. These events are heavily marshalled and take place in a highly disciplined and controlled environment. The drivers are specially trained and must wear special personal protective gear. Along with this, the cars are specially prepared for the purpose of rallying. Trying this without all of these precautions would be extremely unsafe."
Kevin Gately, Community Engagement Superintendent, An Garda Siochana added: "Young drivers are unfortunately classed as high risk takers and we are appealing to parents to make sure that their sons and daughters get sufficient driving experience and that the vehicles they are driving are road worthy.
"Driving too fast, travelling at night, when teenage passengers are in the car, not wearing seatbelts, having consumed alcohol and young inexperienced drivers are often a lethal mix and it is clear that young motorists are constantly taking risks behind the wheel.
“We need to stress how important the road safety messages are. High speed sport takes place in a controlled environment with all the protections in place from clothing, to the roll bars and tyres fitted to the car.
"Motorsport is hugely popular, with fans turning out in large numbers to support these events and safety is a top priority for all rally drivers and it should be the top priority for all road users. Unfortunately there is a small minority who drive dangerously and drive illegally modified cars who have no interest in the rally and are putting their lives and lives of other road users in danger and these will be dealt with accordingly."
Noel Gibbons, Road Safety Officer, Mayo County Council said: "Large numbers will arrive in Mayo to attend the rally and also to enjoy everything this wounderful county has to offer and we want to emphasise the importance of safety, both on the rally course and on the public roads. Followers of the rally need to be reminded to watch the stages from safety areas, always stay within the speed limits and reduce speed in inclement weather conditions and allow plenty of time to arrive safely at your destination.
"Please keep the race in its place. We appeal to all rally fans to be cautious and use the road responsibly considering because we want to have an accident free event. The Gardai will be out in force this weekend and we support them in taking a zero tolerance with anyone showing disregard for the rules of the road”.
Anyone interested in cars and want to learn how improve handling skills can do so by joining their club which operates in a controlled and safe environment - www.mayomotorsportclub.com/