Gardaí warn of festive roads blitz in Galway

Over 60 checkpoints per day are being set up across the Garda Western Region as the Christmas road safety campaign switches into top gear for the peak of the holiday season.

Gardai have made a renewed appeal to motorists, cyclists and pedestrians to abide by seven principles that they say would massively reduce the risk of serious accidents, death and injury on the roads this Christmas.

According to Acting Regional Traffic Superintendent for the Western Region, Ernie White, adherence to the following seven-point plan could make a major contribution to a reduction in road deaths and serious injuries this Christmas on our roads.

■ Never, ever drink and drive or while under the influence of drugs.
■ Slow down and always remember that a speed limit is a legal maximum. Road and weather conditions must be taken into account.
■ Regardless of how short a journey is, always ensure that everyone in the vehicle wears their seat belts.
■ Distraction driving has to be avoided at all costs. Mobile phone and ipad usage as well as fatigue are the ones to watch here.
■ The onus is on you as a driver never to drive carelessly or dangerously such as reckless overtaking manoeuvres or driving too close to the vehicle in front of you.
■ Have your vehicle in good mechanical/working order with lights, brakes and tyres all checked out properly.
■ Cyclists and pedestrians should wear high visibility clothing (even during daylight hours) but especially so during the hours of darkness. Bicycles should be properly it up: cyclists should abide by the rules of the road.

Supt. White also warned driver who have consumed alcohol ‘the night before’ to take a taxi or public transport if they are in any doubt about their driving.

“Nearly one in eight (12%) of all drink driving arrests occur between 8am and 2pm, and of those, almost one third happen on a Sunday, peaking between 8am and 2pm.

“It is critical from the point of view of road safety that drivers do not risk driving the morning after a night out. It is just not worth the chance if you are still over the legal limit,” said Supt. White.

He also warned passengers never to take a lift from someone who had consumed alcohol or drugs. “Drink driving destroys lives. At worst, you could lose your licence but far worse – and far more difficult to live with – is the possibility of seriously injuring or killing someone on the roads,” he said.

In the Garda Western Region – Galway, Mayo, Clare, Roscommon and Longford – 25 people have lost their lives so far through the course of 2017. Eleven of those deaths were in Mayo, six in Galway, four in Roscommon, three in Clare and one in Longford.

Supt. White has also warned motorists of the risk of driver fatigue, pointing out that this could be a contributory factor in 20% of all driver deaths on Irish roads as well as impacting on other road users.

“Drivers need to factor breaks into their journeys, especially if travelling with children. Ensure that you are rested before commencing a journey and if feeling tired, pull over, take a 15 to 20 minute nap followed by a cup of coffee and some fresh air.

“Remember, don’t try and fight sleep at the wheel. Turning up the radio or opening the windows will not cure tiredness. The only cure is rest and sleep,” he said.

The Christmas/New Year Garda road safety campaign that began on December 1 last will continue through to Monday, January 8 next.