Whether you're Irish or not, St. Patrick's Day is a great excuse for a fun and festive celebration.The spirit of Irish culture will flood the streets, with melodies from the harp and violin and the tap of feet from local dancing schools, but this year the Road Safety Officers in Mayo and Galway with An Garda Síochána are requesting all parade organising committees to keep road safety at the forefront by encouraging entrants to enter road safety floats or groups highlighting road safety, to remind all road users that they can play their part in road safety awareness. This year, St. Patrick's Day falls on a Saturday (March 17th) so some people may plan on partying for a long weekend.
Unfortunately, some of these people might also be driving home from their festivities and therefore, the night out has also become potentially dangerous. There are parties at people's homes, at bars, during and after parades and in entire communities.
Hospital Accident and Emergency Departments across the Country report a huge increase in the number of admissions on St Patrick's Day and a high percentage of these are pedestrians who have fallen after over indulging on alcohol, these pedestrians are not alone putting themselves at risk when using the streets and roads but other road users also.
Mr Charlie Meehan, General Manager of Mayo General Hospital said, "We strongly advocate that pedestrians use a footpath where there is one provided; where there is no footpath provided to walk as near as possible to the right hand side of the road (facing oncoming traffic) and to always wear a high visibility vest. If there are no street lights and you think there is sufficient light for you to see your way home, remember that without high visibility clothing you won't be seen be oncoming drivers. If you take a drink then you are responsible for your own safety and also ensure the safety of others .
Deirdre Caulfield, Road Safety Officer, Galway Co. Council said ‘If you are going to party, plan ahead. Keep the number of a taxi company with you, learn about public transportation and get home safely. Even if you will not be celebrating this St. Patrick's Day, keep in mind that in the past people have been involved in collisions on St. Patrick's day, so pay attention to others on the road".
"An Garda Síochána are most concerned that Fatal Collisions continue to increase within the Western Region in 2012. At March 8th, 12 people has been killed in single vehicle collisions. Motorists in the West and particularly, in Galway, need to re-focus on simple road safety advice and consider their personal safety every time they use the public roads. Inappropriate speed, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, using mobile phones when driving and failure to wear seat belts continue as critical negative factors in most fatal and serious injury collisions. Drivers on learner permits must display "L" plates and be accompanied by a qualified driver. Older drivers are advised to make their journey during day light hours if possible. All motorists are reminded that Speed Limits are designed as the appropriate speed limit in ideal conditions considering such factors as road conditions, weather conditions, brightness, traffic volumes and the mechanical condition of your vehicle. In the absence of ideal conditions motorists must reduce their speed accordingly said Mr Martin Cashen Superintendent , An Garda Síochána , Western Region (Traffic).''
Noel Gibbons, Road Safety Officer, Mayo Co. Council said "We want to keep road safety on people's minds on St Patrick's weekend, as it is a time when people socialise quite a bit and they need to take extra care on the roads. The big messages, as always, will be that people should not drink and drive, slow down, always wear your seat belt, never use a handheld mobile phone while driving and don't drive tired and also for pedestrians to make themselves visible to other road users."