One of the country’s most senior gardaí has backed a proposal by a consultation group to make it compulsory for pedestrians and cyclists to wear high-visibility jackets during the hours of darkness.
Cork County Joint Policing Committee is writing to the Department of Justice seeking new legislation. It has the backing of assistant Garda commissioner John O’Mahoney.
Committee chairman and Fianna Fáil councillor Frank O’Flynn told a public meeting of the committee in County Hall that he, like many others, had witnessed scores of people risking their lives every winter by wearing dark clothing.
He said the committee should also call on the environment minister and the Road Safety Authority to make it mandatory for walkers, runners, cyclists, and all people in charge of animals to wear high-visibility jackets in areas outside 50km/h speed limits.
He said this would be in the interest of all road users.
The assistant Garda commissioner said it was a move he would strongly support.
“Maybe the time has come when we need to make it mandatory,” he said.
“If it saves lives, then that’s an important consideration which needs to be made by the legislator.”
Mr O’Flynn, meanwhile, said one in five deaths on Irish roads are pedestrians and, last year, 41 pedestrians died, two in Cork county.
“To date in 2015, a total of 23 pedestrians have died. Winter can be a more dangerous and challenging time for walkers and cyclists as poor lighting and weather conditions make using roads more dangerous.
“To prevent these, use of high-visibility jackets are most effective as a high-visibility jacket can be seen at a distance of 500m by an oncoming vehicle,” he said.
“That’s almost the length of four football pitches and gives the driver plenty of time to react to road users.
“In contrast if a high-visibility jacket is not worn, an oncoming driver will not see the person until 50m away, which is the halfway line and too late to react,” he said.
“Tragically, a number of people have also been killed on motorways over the past few years. One should never walk on a motorway as it is extremely dangerous and also an offence to do so.”
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