Clerics in Co Mayo will bless the county’s roads in a novel ceremony aimed at reducing the number of people who die in traffic accidents each year over the Easter weekend.
The campaign comes after the Garda expressed serious concern over a rise in road deaths in the west over the past two years which runs contrary to the downward trend nationally. Single vehicle crashes involving male drivers in random locations constituted the largest number of fatalities in the region last year, while overall deaths in the region had risen from a low in 2010. Speeding in 80km/h and 100km/h zones had been identified as a major factor in fatalities in the west.
A special blessing of the roads ceremony will take place in many parishes throughout the county on Easter Sunday as religious leaders back the campaign to make the roads safer.
The ceremony, which will take place at most Catholic churches, comes with a plea for people to use roads safely and will also be made at Church of Ireland churches on Sunday next. This campaign is being promoted by the road safety office of Mayo County Council.
Noel Gibbons, road safety officer, said: “The community makes improved road safety a goal in an effort to ensure that the grief associated with loss of life, or serious injury, does not come to them.
“This is not the first year we have done the blessing of the roads ceremony in Co Mayo and we have got a very enthusiastic response. There are still too many drivers under the impression that an accident won’t happen to them. We are asking all religious groups to promote this campaign in a bid to raise road safety awareness.’’
Martin Cashen, regional traffic inspector, added: “An Garda Siochana appeal to all road users to think ‘Safety’ every time they use the public roads and streets.
“We urge families to discuss the topic so that parents and guardians assume and accept responsibility to alert their sons and daughters of their obligation to drive within all legal boundaries.
“In circumstances where parents have supported their child with a means of transport or insurance there should be conditions attached to the use of such vehicles including the legal obligations on young permit holder drivers.’’
Tuam archdiocese spokesperson Fr Fintan Monaghan said the church was “fully behind the campaign. We all need to play our part to reduce the number of road deaths.
“The trauma of road crashes to families and communities is devastating. A major focus of the campaign is to promote the issue of driver fatigue, drink-driving and speeding, as well as praying for the safety of not only all road users, but our gardaí and emergency services.”