St. Patrick’s weekend road safety appeal

An Garda Síochána and The Road Safety Authority (RSA) are appealing to all road users to take action and use the roads with care over the St Patrick’s Bank Holiday weekend. The appeal comes against the backdrop of high numbers of road fatalities in 2024.

Provisional figures show that 42 lives have been lost on Irish roads to date this year, three (3) more than on this date last year. (as of 14th March, 2024.)

An Garda Síochána and the RSA are reminding all road users to never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Ahead of the national holiday, motorists and pedestrians are reminded to plan ahead and organise a safe away home ahead of celebrating over the coming days.

This means leaving the car keys at home and agreeing on a designated driver, booking a taxi, or taking public transport. Pedestrians are being cautioned not to walk home after a night out, especially in areas where there is low visibility.

The appeal comes as the Driver Attitude & Behaviour Survey 2023 shows nearly a quarter of drivers have admitted there were times where they may have been over the limit when driving the morning after a night out.

The survey, commissioned by the RSA, also found that one in four motorists believe that driving short distances after having a drink is acceptable.

To coincide with its Bank Holiday appeal, the RSA is encouraging people to speak up and express their concerns about their loved ones’ behaviour on the road.

The RSA’s ‘SAY IT’ campaign urges people to ‘SAY IT’ when they see any worrying behaviour. The campaign targets girlfriends, boyfriends, partners, sisters, teammates, classmates, sons, daughters to speak up, and will run over the Bank Holiday weekend.

An Garda Síochána Assistant Commissioner Roads Policing and Community Engagement, Paula Hilman said: “Throughout this St. Patrick’s Bank Holiday Weekend, an extensive Garda Roads Policing Operation will be in place nationwide. Enforcing road traffic laws is a core element of road safety, and Gardaí work all year round to detect road traffic offences which are known to increase the risk of death or serious injury on our roads. The reality is that this risk further increases during bank holiday weekends. We all have a personal responsibility to prevent road fatalities and serious injury road traffic collisions, and we must work together. An Garda Síochána are urging people to never, ever get behind the wheel of a car while under the influence of an intoxicant be that alcohol or drugs. Please slow down and drive at an appropriate speed, always wear your seatbelt and do not allow yourself to be distracted by a phone while driving”.

“There are consequences to these actions and poor driver behaviour – some more lasting than others. You could lose your licence and face significant financial penalty, but far worse is the possibility of seriously injuring or killing someone else on the road. We appeal to everyone to look out for one another on the roads this St. Patrick’s weekend.”

Mr. Jack Chambers, Minister of State at the Department of Transport, said: “I am deeply concerned by the findings that people have admitted to driving while they may have been over the limit after a night out. This bank holiday weekend I am urging motorists to make responsible choices before getting behind the wheel after celebrating St Patrick’s Day. With the holiday falling on a Sunday, people who are away for the weekend may be travelling back on the Monday. We all need to keep our roads safe, and I am also appealing to people not to get behind the wheel if they have been celebrating heavily the night before.”

Sarah O’Connor, Director of Partnerships and External Affairs with the RSA, said: “We know that fatal road traffic collisions are more likely to occur over the weekend and late at night/in the early hours of the morning. If any of us gets behind the wheel of a car after drinking alcohol or using drugs this weekend, we have to realise that our decision could lead to some very serious consequences. Plan a safe way home and stick to it – and speak up if you see someone about to drive or walk home when intoxicated. Don’t just think it, say it.”

This St Patrick’s Bank Holiday Weekend drivers are also being reminded that the RSA and participating Applegreen service stations are providing free cups of coffee to motorists to combat driver fatigue. The offer is available from 2-8pm from Friday 15 March to Monday 18 March.

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