Push for laws to compel cyclists to wear high-vis tops and helmets

Mid-ranking gardaí are to push for new laws to compel cyclists to wear high-vis tops and helmets in a bid to save lives on the road.

The annual conference of Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors also heard calls for all pedestrians to be obliged to wear reflective jackets but this was rejected by most delegates given the impracticality of enforcing it.

Pushing a motion for pedestrians and cyclists to be covered in news laws, Sergeant Sean Callaghan of Sligo-Leitrim said he was speaking from local experience involving pedestrians in rural and mainly unlit roads.

He said since 2013, 141 pedestrians had been killed on Irish roads which comprised 20% of all fatalities. He said when the amount of time pedestrians are on the road is calculated it shows the great danger pedestrians are in especially on rural, dark roads.

He said that in 2016, 35 pedestrians were killed, 23 of which were in the hours of darkness. Sgt Callaghan said a recent study had found that the wearing of high-vis jackets increased visibility by around 500m.

He said there was “no doubt” the motion would save lives if implemented by the Government.

Sgt Clare Healy of Dublin Metropolitan Region Traffic sought to amend the motion to remove pedestrians from it. She questioned the practicality of policing the provision, particularly in cities.

“It would be very hard to police if all pedestrians were to wear fluorescent jackets,” she said. She said the motion didn’t distinguish between rural and urban zones, or different times of the day.

However, she did say in other countries, such as Austria, children wore high-vis jackets walking to and from school. She said such a system would be “beneficial” here, but said it was an issue of education and awareness, which was something the Road Safety Authority was involved in.

“You start at grassroots, with anything, with children and move up, with education you can change attitudes. Kids will think it’s the norm,” said Sgt Healy.

There was a proposed amendment to the motion that the association push the Government to introduce new laws compelling cyclists to wear high-vis jackets and helmets. This motion was passed.

“The amount of fatalities and serious injuries - even minor injuries in cyclists, especially in the Dublin Metropolitan Region is huge so we’d just like to shift the mentality and attitudes of cyclists to encompass their own safety,” she said.

There were 10 cyclists killed last year and five have already died this year.

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