It is that time of the year to wish good will onto man. Have a Merry Christmas holiday and of course to all a happy New Year. However, in our business the word road safety comes up more often at this time of the year than most. A time of joy and celebration for many becomes a time of tragedy and pain. So I would like for all of us to stop and reflect on the word road safety and what it means.
"Ice gets respect, snow gets respect, rain does not." What is meant by is that we become more vigilant for obvious dangers, but don't seem to "turn on" our brains for rain. We do not always slow down as much as we should, and we do not increase our following distance. So I ask you, have you established a "good" following distance? "Good" is safe, but how do we define "good?"
The leading cause of collisions in inclement weather is not maintaining an adequate following distance, that is safe. If you keep at least 3-4 seconds of following distance in normal weather, and 5-7 in poor weather conditions, then that is safe and "good." One very easily establishes a following distance of car in front of you by viewing where the car passes a stationary object, then counting until you yourself pass that same object two, three, or five seconds later.
It may be soon the season of goodwill but a lot of road users fail to show each other common courtesy. Showing courtesy when driving enables all road users to get along in society. However, in spite of the behavior of others on the road, you really do need to do your best to show courtesy when you are driving, and you never know, it may actually catch on.
The Road Courtesy Campaign seeks to remind all road users to show greater consideration and courteous behaviour, to exercise more tolerance and practise more patience on the roads. Road courtesy is inextricably linked to road safety. It is important that patience, good etiquette, tolerance and mutual respect must always prevail among the various road users, as we share the same public roads. For a strong road safety culture, road courtesy must be the hallmark of all road users: motorists, heavy vehicle drivers, motorcyclists, pedal cyclists and pedestrians.
Be a Part of the Solution, not a Part of the Problem
"This is a campaign that makes perfect sense. We are all human; we all try to behave well most of the time but we can all find ourselves being frustrated or impatient on the roads from time to time. There is no doubt that this impatience can lead to driving mistakes, and mistakes can lead to tragedy. I would encourage all motorists to take a moment to absorb the lessons of the Road Courtesy Campaign. Think about other road users, remember that we are all in this together and we all share the objective to keep each other safe."
Noel Gibbons Road Safety Officer Mayo County Council said "This campaign centres around seven key words. The words are: ‘Space', ‘Respect', ‘Patience', ‘Foresight', ‘Considerate', Give way and Courtesy . On their own and collectively, they call out to road users to change their behaviour and attitude on the roads for the better, and remind everyone - whether a motorist, heavy vehicle driver, motorcyclist, pedal cyclist or pedestrian - that patience, good etiquette, tolerance and mutual respect are key to safe and conflict-free use of the roads''.
Grant other road users their space. Don't tailgate and don't cut into the path of others without ample notice. Allow ample distance and time between yourself and other road users so as to react safely to any sudden event. Slow down, if necessary, to create space and do not harass or stress other road users.
Everyone makes mistake. Keep calm; accept that an aggravating move was unintentional and not directed at you personally. No matter how much another road user has annoyed or inconvenienced you, never lose your cool. Don't retaliate by resorting to immature acts like high-beaming or horning unnecessarily. When you make a mistake, raise your hand to offer a simple and sincere apology.
Be patient. The horn should be used to warn others of danger, not to express frustration. Don't cause unnecessary frustration especially in a traffic jam as it only worsens the situation. Horning unnecessarily may also alarm or annoy other road users into making unpredictable and dangerous manoeuvres.
Signal early. It is essential to alert other road users of your intention early to prevent traffic accidents. Plan your journey and manage your time to avoid rushing to your destination. Courtesy encourages safe road use. Make it a habit to wave and say thank you to motorists who display gracious behaviour to you.
Being considerate means being prepared to give way. Slow down if necessary. Always give way by keeping to the left unless overtaking. Don't road hog. Don't hold up traffic and frustrate other road users. When every minute counts, giving way to emergency vehicles by moving aside can help save lives.
Give way - pedestrians crossing the road appropriately and drivers giving way to pedestrians appropriately.
Courtesy - drivers being courteous to cyclists, indicating and respecting cycle lanes, and cyclists riding defensively and obeying road rules.
"Road safety experts encourage all motorists to have respect and consideration for Road Users that may be more vulnerable than themselves. Every road user should consider and understand the age gap across the motoring population and the physical restrictions for many whose reflexes and responses may be slower than others".
Unfortunately 144 people have died on roads across the Country this year. Some deaths could have been avoided if people implemented simple and basic principles of Road Safety.
Please make December a month to remember and not a month to forget. Respect your privilege to use the road and consider that human error can cause traffic collisions.
"Human error is a contributing factor to far too many road collisions, which we all know have devastating consequences for families and communities. We all have busy lives with various things on our minds when we are on the road which can distract us from using the road in a safe and courteous way. For the month of December I would like to encourage road users to part in the road safety courtesy campaign and make our roads safer for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers."