Gardai urge motorists to ‘stop the carnage’ over Bank Holiday weekends

WITH the Easter and May Bank Holidays approaching, An Garda Siochána is strongly appealing to all road users to heed the warnings on road safety over the extended holiday period. Already in 2011, 61 people have died on our roads, an increase of 6 compared to the same period last year. Gardaí all across Ireland will be mounting additional checkpoints over the course of the two weekends and in the intervening day.

WITH the Easter and May Bank Holidays approaching, An Garda Siochána is strongly appealing to all road users to heed the warnings on road safety over the extended holiday period. Already in 2011, 61 people have died on our roads, an increase of 6 compared to the same period last year. Gardaí all across Ireland will be mounting additional checkpoints over the course of the two weekends and in the intervening day.

WITH the Easter and May Bank Holidays approaching, An Garda Siochána is strongly appealing to all road users to heed the warnings on road safety over the extended holiday period. Already in 2011, 61 people have died on our roads, an increase of 6 compared to the same period last year. Gardaí all across Ireland will be mounting additional checkpoints over the course of the two weekends and in the intervening day.

In the last two years (2009 / 2010), 13 people were killed and 33 people were seriously injured on Irish roads over the Easter and May Bank Holiday period.

Speaking at Garda Headquarters, John Twomey, Assistant Commissioner for Traffic, said: “Let’s keep our roads safe this Easter and May Bank Holiday. I am asking every person in Ireland that use the roads to make a commitment that they will do so safely and with care and consideration for the other people they meet along the way. Please take heed of the warnings from An Garda Siochana and our partners in the Road Safety Authority and Community Organisations. This carnage on our roads has to stop.”

An Garda Síochána will be active over the forthcoming holiday period, with the objective of saving lives. In particular, Gardaí will focus on drivers driving under the influence, speeding and also those using handheld mobile phones while driving

Recent research conducted by the Road Safety Authority has shown that close to half of all Irish motorists believe they can safely exceed the speed limit on national roads. Comfort with speeding is especially high in the commuter belt in counties surrounding Dublin.

Driving under the influence of alcohol is considered the most dangerous behaviour, with 33 per cent of respondents placing it as the highest risk factor. Encouragingly, alcohol is especially seen as the key dangerous factor by those in their early 20s.

Worryingly, however, the research shows that using mobile phones while driving is not perceived as dangerous: only 12 per cent rate this activity as the most dangerous. In addition, younger drivers in particular do not perceive that driving with a mobile phone in their hand is dangerous: only one per cent of 16-24 year olds rate this activity as most dangerous (compared to seven per cent overall).

Assistant Commissioner Twomey said: “This research shows that younger drivers in particular don’t seem to appreciate the dangers of using mobile phones when driving. Talking on the phone and texting seems to be perceived by this group as a harmless pastime. Holding a phone or texting while driving distracts the driver’s attention from the road and can lead to fatal consequences.”

Of particular concern to An Garda Síochána is the fact that over the recent St. Patrick’s holiday period there was an increase in the number of drivers detected driving under the influence and also speeding. The refusal of drivers to change their behaviour in relation to drink driving and speeding has contributed to the increase in deaths and injuries on our roads compared to this time last year.

Assistant Commissioner Twomey said: “It is somewhat disappointing that in spite of all the campaigns and sustained efforts in relation to the dangers of ‘drink driving’ and speeding, drivers persist in taking chances - chances with their own life and all others that they meet on the road. There is no doubt that these behaviours contribute hugely to the carnage on our roads and the grief and loss road deaths bring to our communities. This year, the families, friends and extended communities of 56 people have been forced to come to terms with the sudden loss of a loved one.”