IMAGE ABOVE: A car detected speeding while past people cycling with high-vis on.
Road safety campaigners have written to members of the Galway City Joint Policing Committee after a senior Gardai officer said he wanted to give points to people who did not wear high-vis jackets while using public roads and streets.
Last month, the Galway City Tribune reported that Garda Chief Superintendent Tom Curley wanted to give people penalty points for not wearing high-vis. The newspaper reported: “Chief Supt Curley said he’d love to be able to issue ‘penalty points’ to people who don’t wear high-vis jackets but some people might not be happy with that scenario.”
The Galway-based Community Road Safety Action & Information Network (Cosain) said that there is a “reality check is needed” around the benefits of high-vis.
“At the last meeting the Chief Supt expressed his frustration at not being able to give pedestrians penalty points for not wearing hi-vis,”Cosain PRO Simon Comer wrote to members of the Galway City Joint Policing Committee saying. “There is a commonly-held view that cyclists and pedestrians are somehow being careless or even negligent if they wear only their ordinary clothing while out cycling and walking. However, the evidence that hi-vis material reduces death and injury among cyclists and pedestrians is not well established and indeed is somewhat complicated or even contradictory.”
Cosain points out that a 2006 study stated that the effect of such visibility aids on pedestrian and cyclist safety was “unknown”, while a study from New Zealand published in the European Journal of Public Health last year, concluded that “conspicuity aids may not be effective in preventing bicycle–motor vehicle crashes in New Zealand, particularly in Auckland, where attention conspicuity is low.”
“A more recent experimental intervention in Denmark, sponsored by an insurance company, claimed to find a lower ‘multi-party’ crash risk among cyclists wearing a fluorescent yellow jacket, but also saw an increased “solo” crash risk among the same ‘hi-vis’ group”, Comer said.
He added: “A study of 850,000 police-reported motor vehicle crashes in Australia during 1987-2004 found that black, blue, grey, green, red and silver vehicles had a significantly higher crash risk than white vehicles. Yet nobody is suggesting that drivers of non-white motor vehicles be given penalty points as a punishment for their colour preferences.”
Comer said: “A reality check is needed here. In terms of general road safety, the real risk comes from motor vehicles, especially those driven at excessive speed or in an otherwise dangerous manner. Public policy and official pronouncements should be oriented accordingly.”
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