Road-users North & South urged to support UN Global Road Safety Week

Minister Varadkar, Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan, Minister for Justice, Equality & Defence Alan Shatter and a European traffic police colleague at a recent road safety event.

Pedestrian Safety is theme for week as figures reveal that 37 pedestrians died on roads in North and South in 2012.

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Mr Leo Varadkar, the Environment Minister in Northern Ireland, Alex Attwood, the Road Safety Authority (RSA), An Garda Síochána, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service are calling on road-users throughout the island of Ireland to join the international community in support of UN Global Road Safety Week which will take place from Monday 6 May to Sunday 12 May. This year, the focus will be on pedestrian safety with the goal of preventing pedestrian fatalities during UN Global Road Safety Week.

More than 5,000 pedestrians are killed on the world’s roads each week. 37 pedestrians were killed on roads, north and south, in 2012. To date this year 15 pedestrians have died on roads in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The aim of UN Global Road Safety Week is to generate awareness of pedestrian’s vulnerability on the roads and to encourage road-users to adjust their behaviour when sharing the roads with pedestrians.

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar said: “People have really embraced outdoor activities like walking and cycling. It’s healthy, it’s enjoyable and it’s a great alternative to the car. However, pedestrians also need to take great care on the roads, as they are among the most vulnerable road users.

“The new Government Road Safety Strategy has a particular focus on pedestrians and vulnerable road-users. This includes educational measures for pedestrians on how to cross the road safely, and specifically targeting drunk pedestrians. I encourage everyone to be extra safety-conscious during UN Global Road Safety Week, and to watch out for other road-users, particularly vulnerable pedestrians.”

The Environment Minister in Northern Ireland, Alex Attwood said: “There is good and sustained work between Dublin and Belfast to make our rods safer across the island. The recent sharp spike in road deaths in the first four months of the year – North and South – calls on all of us to work harder, drive safer and campaign more. If we share the road, we have to share the responsibility. Unlike motor vehicles, pedestrians do not have any protection upon collision. Even a low-speed collision can result in death. Nine pedestrians died in 2012 and four have died this year already. Everyone has the right to travel on the road. Everyone should come home safely to their loved ones. As a driver, rider or pedestrian, we need to – Respect Everyone’s Journey.”

Mr Noel Brett, Chief Executive, Road Safety Authority said:“ We are delighted that we have teamed up with our colleagues in Northern Ireland to raise awareness of the second UN Road Safety Week and pedestrian safety. In recent years, we have seen a significant rise in the number of people walking and exercising on our roads and it’s really encouraging to see so many road users wearing high visibility material when using the roads. That said, unfortunately pedestrians are still more vulnerable in road fatality figures. Last year, 28 people or 1 in 5 of all people killed on our roads was a pedestrian. While this is a reduction of 40% on the previous year, it is a reminder to us all that we cannot become complacent. Tragically 11 pedestrians have died on the souths roads in 2013. Therefore, I would like to ask all road users to redouble their efforts to make our roads safer and to help ensure we have a fatality free week to mark UN Global Road Safety Week.”

Assistant Garda Commissioner Gerard Phillips said : “An Garda Síochána is supporting UN Global Road Safety Week and its focus on pedestrian safety in particular. When on roads without a footpath such as rural roads we ask that all pedestrians walk on the right hand side thereby facing oncoming traffic and always wear some form of high visibility clothing. In addition to pedestrian safety we also need to be mindful of other vulnerable road users on the road, in particular motor cyclists. Last week we launched a campaign to highlight the fact that motorcyclists have less protection in the event of a crash than car drivers. Tragically 6 motorcyclists have been killed on the roads to date this year. I would like to remind motorcyclists to realise that with power comes responsibility and to always wear the correct protective gear. Similarly I urge car drivers to be on the lookout for the presence of bikers particularly at junctions.”

PSNI, Head of Operations Branch, Superintendent Mark Purdon said: “While the number of people killed on roads across Northern Ireland has fallen in recent years, 18 people have lost their lives on our roads so far this year – just over double the number killed during the same period last year. Every road death is one too many. We all share the road, so we all share the responsibility to prevent these collisions. If everyone slowed down, didn’t drive after taking drink or drugs, wore a seatbelt, paid less attention to their mobile phone and drove, walked or cycled with greater care and attention, then the number of deaths and injuries will reduce dramatically.”

Dale Ashford, Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) said: “Road deaths in Northern Ireland continue to reduce year on year but there are still far too many unnecessary and tragic deaths on our roads. As Firefighters we witness the consequences of road traffic collisions and the devastation and pain of road deaths on individuals, families and communities and we work hard, and in partnership with DOE and PSNI, to improve road user behaviour to prevent road traffic collisions and the deaths and serious injuries caused as a consequence. Our message is this – road safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

The RSA is supporting UN Global Road Safety Week through a series of radio ads which will be aired on local and national radio stations throughout the country and by posting informative and engaging road safety messages aimed at pedestrian safety on Facebook and Twitter @RSAIreland, which now has a community numbering almost 40,000 people.

DOE and RSA will be using the same radio ad featuring Road Safety Ambassador, Gay Byrne, to raise awareness of UN Global Road Safety Week. DOE have also developed a new leaflet focusing on pedestrian vulnerability and a further two radio campaigns will complement this.

Date: 5. 5. 2013