People are playing Russian roulette with their lives by not wearing seatbelts in cars, a minister warned today.
At the launch of a safety initiative to encourage seatbelt wearing in the accident black-spot of Donegal, Pat the Cope Gallagher said road safety depended on support from individual road users.
Mr Gallagher, Minister of State for Transport, said: “Road safety is a constant battle that requires the efforts of Government, the Gardai, local agencies, schools and individuals in order to be effective. It is vital that we get the co-operation of all if we are to change driver attitude and behaviour.”
He warned the country’s roads would only become safer when drivers and passengers change their behaviour.
“Unfortunately, many continue to drive recklessly without any due regard for other road users and believe they are conquering ’the Law’ by doing this. However, they are doing nothing short of playing Russian roulette with their own and others’ lives,” he said.
The special two-month initiative in Donegal "Reckless driving wrecks lives" is highlighting the need for drivers, and passengers, to wear a seatbelt. The campaign is being backed by the Donegal Road Safety Working Group, which includes representatives from Donegal County Council, the Gardaí, the Health Safety Executive, and the National Roads Authority.
Just last month, one crash on Donegal roads claimed the lives of four Latvians and one Lithuanian when two cars collided near Buncrana.
In his hometown of Letterkenny, the Donegal South West TD appealed to both drivers and passengers to belt up.
He said: “If you insist that you and your passengers wear a seatbelt, you are helping to save your life, your brother’s life, your sister’s life or your friend’s life.”
The minister added: “I appeal to all passengers to belt up. When you risk not wearing your seatbelt, you are risking your driver having to live with the torment of it for the rest of his or her life. Surely, a person’s life is worth wearing a seatbelt – think again and belt up.”
A survey from the National Roads Authority has shown around 86% of people wear seatbelts in the front seats but only 46% buckle-in in the back of vehicles.
The wearing of seatbelts was lowest among male drivers – especially those travelling with unbelted male passengers.
Mr Gallagher appealed to all adults to ensure children are belted-in at all times.
“Parents and child minders have a responsibility to ensure that their children are strapped in safely. Their lives are in your hands and I strongly urge you to make sure they are strapped in, regardless of the length of your journey,” he said.