Road users are being urged to wear high visibility material when out walking or cycling on Irish roads.
Road Safety Authority research has revealed that more than half of pedestrian fatalities recorded for 2013 up to mid-December happened during the hours of darkness.
In November and December 2013, the RSA conducted an observational study of high visibility wearing rates among 4,000 pedal cyclists and almost 1,000 motorcyclists in Dublin. Preliminary results indicate relatively poor wearing rates of high visibility material. Of 900 cyclists observed using Dublin city bikes, less than one in 20 (4.5 per cent ) were wearing high visibility material.
Of the non–Dublin city bike users observed, more than one in three were wearing high visibility gear (36 per cent ). Similarly, just over a third (36 per cent ) of motorcyclists were observed wearing high visibility gear.
Up to December 20, 180 people have died on Irish roads, an increase of 21 road fatalities when compared to the same period last year. Vulnerable road users (cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians ) accounted for one third of these deaths.
Worryingly, road fatality figures to date have found that of the 29 pedestrians who have died on Irish roads to date this year, more than half occurred during the hours of darkness and more than half (51 per cent ) of pedestrians killed were 56 years of age and older.
John Caulfield, interim CEO at the Road Safety Authority, said: “To date this year, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists have accounted for one third of road fatalities and this shows just how vulnerable these road users are. With fewer hours of daylight during the winter months, it’s even more important for vulnerable road users to ensure that they can be seen by other road-users when out on the roads.
"Wearing high visibility material is a simple and effective way to make sure you are clearly seen when out walking, cycling or motorcycling. We would encourage everyone to put on their high visibility vest, jacket or Sam Browne belt to show your support for ‘National Be Safe, Be Seen Day’ this Saturday. It could help to save a life.”
Speaking at the launch Jim Dollard, executive director of Electric Ireland, said: “We are delighted to support the Road Safety Authority’s ‘Be Safe, Be Seen Day’ for the third year. We have provided 240,000 high vis vests to children starting school throughout Ireland over the past three years to help them stay safe on their daily journeys to and from school. We know safety of children is uppermost in the minds of all parents and we hope this simple step helps keep our youngest members of society safer.”
The Road Safety Authority is encouraging motorists to use their dipped headlights during the daytime to improve visibility on the roads. Using dipped headlights during the day makes it easier to see oncoming vehicles in the distances and can help to prevent daytime head-on and front-corner collisions.