National Slow Down Day – from 7am today to 7am tomorrow

by Rose Barrett
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RSA CEO describes Ireland as having a “speed epidemic”

Following a number of tragic road collisions in recent weeks, An Garda Síochána will conduct a national speed enforcement operation “Slow Down”, supported by the Road Safety Authority (RSA). Commencing now at 7am, the Slow Down campaign will end at 7am tomorrow, Tuesday September 4.  

Already there has been 127 deaths on Irish roads, up 23 more than the same period last year, and sadly, 38 more deaths than during the same period in 2019. Many of those funerals showed traumatised families and communities dealing with multiple fatalities from motor accidents.

Forty three of those deaths in 2023 were young people under the age of 25 years with 29 deaths being pedestrians. Approximately one in four (30) of all deaths so far in 2023 were passengers in vehicles and one in five occurred during August.

Mr Sam Waide, CEO, RSA, said “We have a speed epidemic in Ireland. The RSA regularly commission observational studies, where the actual real-life behaviours of drivers at the roadside are logged. In 2021, over three quarters (77per cent) of drivers observed on 50km/h roads were exceeding the speed limit. In addition, 29 per cent (almost one in three) of drivers observed on 100km/h roads exceeding the speed limit on these higher speed roads.

“This must change. We must tackle the attitude that speeding is safe and acceptable. Speeding increases both the likelihood of a road traffic collision occurring, and the severity of injury sustained, should a collision occur. Speed has a huge impact on whether a vulnerable road user is killed or seriously injured when a collision occurs.

“We simply have to ask every single driver to play their part in saving lives, routinely slowing down for every single trip, every single day. National Slow Down Day is the day for us all to start,” he said.

An Garda Síochána carries out a number of high profile ‘Slow Down’ days each year, in support of daily speed enforcement operations. The aim of Slow Down day is to remind drivers of the dangers of speeding, to increase compliance with speed limits and act as a deterrent to driving at excessive or inappropriate speed.

Operation ‘Slow Down’ today, Monday September 4 was picked to coincide with the full return of all schools and the related increase in roads users, particularly vulnerable road users, pedestrians, pedal cyclists and specifically younger road users.

However, with the alarming increase in the number of road fatalities on Irish Roads this year, and in recent months, Operation ‘Slow Down’ has taken on increased urgency and relevance.

An Garda Síochána is appealing to all drivers to support Operation Slow Down today, whether using your vehicle for a personal journey, commuting to work or driving for work.  Every Driver can play their part.

The World Health Organisation (2017) estimated that a 5 per cent reduction in average speed could result in a 30 per cent reduction in fatal collisions, and therefore, reducing every motorists’ speed is essential to improving safety on our roads.

An Garda Síochána and our Road Safety Partners Go-Safe have detected over 105,000 drivers (to end August 2023) driving in excess of the posted speed limit.
However inappropriate speed, driving within the speed limit but at a speed inappropriate for the prevailing traffic, road, weather and vehicle conditions is also a significant factor in road traffic collisions.

The greater the speed, even within posted speed limits, the greater the likelihood is of a collision happening and the bigger the impact and severe the outcome for those involved in a road traffic collision.

A pedestrian or cyclist involved in a Road Traffic Collision with a vehicle travelling at 50 km/h has a 50 per cent chance of living whereas a pedestrian or cyclist involved in a Road Traffic Collision with a vehicle travelling at 60 km/h has only a 10 per cent chance of living.

Assistant Commissioner Paula Hilman, Roads Policing and Community Engagement said: “The trauma on our roads so far in 2023 is and will have lasting impacts on families and communities. Speeding is reckless, not just to the motorists themselves and their passengers, but to all road users, especially vulnerable pedestrians and cyclists. This is not just about speeding enforcement detections. It’s about saving lives”.

“I’m appealing to all road users to support us in our efforts to keep everybody safe on our roads.  Please slow down, check your speed, drive safely, not only on National Slow Down Day, but every day,” she said. 

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