IRELAND’S high-profile road safety guru, Gay Byrne, has been left red-faced after being filmed wearing his seatbelt incorrectly.
The veteran broadcaster and head of Ireland’s Road Safety Authority appeared to let the safety side down when he joined fellow broadcasting veteran Terry Wogan for an episode of Terry Wogan’s Ireland, a BBC series where Mr Wogan explores how the country shaped him.
In the episode, screened on Sunday night, Gay and Sir Terry are filmed in the rear of a Mercedes S-class car being driven around Dublin. While both men’s belts appear to be secured, neither is placed across the chest as it should be. Both hang vertically, rather than diagonally, with Gay’s belt in an off-the-shoulder mode which various safety groups have said poses a danger to the passenger and other travellers.
Responding to news that his appearance had prompted hundreds of comments on online discussion forums, Mr Byrne said he was certain he was wearing his seatbelt.
“This was filmed months ago and in very cramped conditions. I have a tendency to hold onto the seatbelt — I don’t know why but that is just the way it is… We were in and out of the car several times going from the GPO in Dublin to a hotel in Ballsbridge.
“I think most people are smart enough to know that this was not a real-life situation.”
Mr Byrne was relaxed about the number of people who had commented on his gaffe. “I have been complained about every day of my working life. My final word is to be sure to wear your seatbelt.”
Asked to comment on the issue the Road Safety Authority issued a stark one-line statement: “The wearing of a seatbelt is the law and it is the advice of the Road Safety Authority that it should be worn at all times when travelling in a vehicle.”
Mr Byrne’s appearance on the BBC documentary is not the first time the wearing of seatbelts has been raised by a TV programme.
The British animation company Astley Baker Davies were recently forced to re-animate scenes from a popular cartoon series after its lead character, Peppa Pig, was shown not wearing a seatbelt. “We were very naive when we started making Peppa,” said company co-founder Mark Baker. “If we could turn the clock back, we would,” he said.
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