COVID-19 creating road safety challenges

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For at-work drivers the world over, the number one priority at present is taking hygiene and other safety precautions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. And while, understandably, this will remain front of mind for the foreseeable future, it’s important that drivers don’t lose sight of the many other risk factors facing them on the roads every day, 94% of collisions are caused by incorrect attitude and behaviour. Everyone responds differently in these unprecedented times, but road trauma does not stop happening.

With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions , more people will be returning to work and people over 70 who were cocooning will get getting for a drive, all resulting increased traffic numbers.

From a road safety perspective, the issue of speeding has been one of the greatest challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic. Each day during the Government’s official coronavirus briefing, we are shown how the use of motor vehicles has– as a result of the ‘lockdown’ restrictions.

While these figures are welcome in the fight to slow the spread of coronavirus – evidence highlights that fewer cars being on the road is creating a culture where more drivers deem it acceptable to flout speed limits. Couple this behaviour with the fact there are many cyclists on our roads and more people are having to walk in the road to maintain a safe distance from others on pavements and you have a recipe for disaster.

By reducing speeds to safe levels we can give ourselves far more time to react to the unexpected, and reduce the risk of someone needing treatment in our already overstretched hospitals.

“The message is very clear, take extra care – slow down – stay focused”

Driver distraction may become a bigger issue during the COVID-19 situation, as people’s minds are elsewhere while driving.

Noel Gibbons road safety officer points out that increased reliance on digital communications could make it harder for drivers to leave their devices alone as restrictions of movement are eased and they can get back behind the wheel.

“We have all come to rely on digital technology taking the place of most face-to-face contact.

“That’s why we are concerned that this will become a new norm and that too many drivers will ignore the distraction risks of using their devices when they get back behind the wheel.”

We urge drivers to take personal responsibility for their safety.

Brendan Mulroy Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council said “We tend to be over-optimistic about our level of driving skill, at the same time as telling ourselves that bad things happen to other people – and that can be a lethal combination.

“That’s why we are urging everyone – on every journey – to take personal responsibility for safety, banish distractions and focus solely on the task of driving. We are now sharing our roads with a lot more cyclists and pedestrians which is a welcomed sight. ”

Traffic fatalities up to 9am on 5 May 2020

Pedestrians

16

Drivers

23

Passengers

10

Motorcyclists

4

Pedal Cyclists

1

Pillion Passengers /Other

Total Year To Date

54

2019 – Comparison: 49 (5)

2020 – May fatalities to date: 0