Suddenly Christmas and the festive season are upon us once again. It is a time for peace and goodwill, a break from work, time to relax with our families. We might go away and if we do, we will probably drive.
Most of us have however been touched by tragic results of car crashes in one way or another. A family member, relative or friend may have been injured — perhaps seriously — or worse.
We know that the road death toll in Ireland is too high for anyone’s liking.
We watch the stories on the news, often with horror and always with sadness and sympathy for the families involved. It is hard to believe the incalculable horror and grief within these families. Suddenly their whole world is turned upside down, and this all happens in an instant.
Road safety message — know the fatal six
1. Be aware. Being aware all the time on the road while driving prevents crashes.
This of course should also be combined with adherence to the road rules and a healthy dose of patience.
2. Speeding motorists - observe speed limits at all times and do not exceed the maximum speed limit. Drive to the conditions at all times.
3. Driving drunk/drugged - if you are unsure whether you are over the legal limit - DO NOT DRIVE. Or if you have taken a drug legal or illegal that may impair your driving - DO NOT DRIVE.
4. Seatbelts - buckle-up while travelling in a motor vehicle — this could save your life. You can be fined if you do not wear a seatbelt.
5. Driver fatigue — have a good sleep before your trip and be aware of the dangers of driving when tired and on unfamiliar roads. When travelling long distances, a minimum of a 15-minute rest is recommended every two hours. In peak holiday periods, look for Driver Reviver stops where you can rest, have a free snack, and a coffee.
6. Driving using a mobile phone — research demonstrates that reaction times for drivers using a handheld phone are 30 per cent worse than for driving under the influence of alcohol at the legal limit. Switch off.
Visibility is also important and motorists should drive with their dipped lights on in day time hours, while cyclists and pedestrians should wear hi-visibilty clothing to be seen by other road users.
“Motorists who take risks are not only gambling with their own lives but also the lives of their families and everyone else on the road. That is why we will be out in force this Christmas, enforcing the rules of the road and trying to keep all road users safe,” said Inspector Martin Byrne, based at Castlebar Garda headquarters.
It only takes one person to get behind the wheel unfit to drive or not focusing on their driving to ruin not just Christmas but a lifetime for the family of a road traffic victim.
Noel Gibbons, road safety officer, Mayo County Council, wishes everyone a relaxing and safe Christmas and New Year break.