Mandatory high-visibility “worth pursuing” if it could “save even one life” says Ross

— Mandatory high-vis continues its slow march forward as Fianna Fáil keeps pushing it.

Transport minister Shane Ross said in a written parliamentary reply that mandatory high-visibility on unlit roads “is worth pursuing” if it could “save even one life”, but in the short-term he wants give educational and publicity another chance.

Minister Ross was responding to a question from Fianna Fail transport spokesman Robert Troy. According to kildarestreet.com,Troy asked: “To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to bring forward legislation to make it compulsory to wear a high-visibility top and reflective clothing on unlit roads after dark; and if he will make a statement on the matter.”

Deputy Troy is one of a number of members of the Oireachtas who has recalled a story of driving and yearly hitting a pedestrian. He said that a Christmas, when driving, he met a man walking “wearing black clothes from head to tow on a corner and nearly knocked him down”.

In February of this year, Road Safety Authority CEO Moyagh Murdock reminded politicians at a Oireachtas Committee on Transport that we do not live in a “police state” after the Fianna Fail transport spokesman asked about making high-visibility clothing mandatory for pedestrians to wear, and the transport minister Shane Ross agreed with the idea.

In a parlmentry reply published this week, Shane Ross said: “To create a statutory obligation on the wearing of reflective clothing would entail making it a criminal offence under Road Traffic legislation for any person guilty of not wearing high visibility clothing. A person in breach of such a provision would fall to be issued with a fixed charge notice or summonsed to court, depending on whatever procedure would be put in place for the processing of such offences. I am of the view that despite certain obstacles, this measure is worth pursuing, if it could save even one life.”

He said: “However, in the short term, I am exploring whether the wearing of high visibility clothing is better achieved by way of educational and publicity campaigns run by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) rather than by pursuing a punitive approach to the issue, particularly having regard to the large numbers of children and young people who cycle.”

“Indeed, the RSA, which has responsibility for the promotion of road safety awareness, advertising and the dissemination of road safety information, has already undertaken a number of campaigns to promote awareness among pedestrians and cyclists of the need for visibility on our roads,” said the minister.

He added: “Almost four million high visibility vests, armbands, rucksack covers and other such items have been distributed by the RSA, An Garda Siochana, Road Safety Officers, Age Action and the Vintners Federation over the past four years. A number of measures have also been included in the Road Safety Strategy 2013-2020 aimed at increasing the wearing of high visibility clothing among pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. The Rules of the Road also include a strong recommendation supporting the wearing of light, and preferably high-visibility, clothing.”

Earlier this year, Deputy Troy — who has been caught speeding in the past — told the transport committee: “I nearly knocked down a pedestrian before Christmas because he was walking on a country road, dressed in black from head to toe. It was the luck of God that I copped him in time and swerved out to avoid him. I have suggested previously that we should examine introducing a penalty for such behaviour as that person was acting irresponsibly. Not alone could his life have been lost but I could have pulled out in front of another car and caused a much more serious accident and a number of lives could have been lost.”

7 Comments

  1. Wearing black clothes from head to tow” should be “wearing black clothes from head to toe”.

    Ironic that the response to a speeding driver nearly hitting a pedestrian is not to ensure that drivers slow down or to provide safe paths for pedestrians to walk on, but to put the responsibility onto the victim. Very rapey. But perhaps that’s Ireland.

  2. “Almost four million high visibility vests, armbands, rucksack covers and other such items have been distributed by the RSA, An Garda Siochana, Road Safety Officers, Age Action and the Vintners Federation over the past four years.”

    That means nearly everyone in the country has received one, I haven’t seen any being distributed. Is this another case of adding a few zeros onto the end?

    Seriously though hi-vis doesn’t offer any protection, we need more Gardaí on the streets and better infrastructure.

  3. Rather than criticising the victims (the pedestrians) for not wanting high visibility, it would be better to tackle the people who cause the deaths – the drivers. Simply ban all vehicles from travelling faster than 30kph after dark, and the problem is solved.

  4. It seems that car headlights are insufficient to allow drivers like our speed happy TD Troy to see vulnerable road users. Perhaps all speed limits should be reduced by half after dark? If it would save even one life…

    As far as handing out free high-viz stuff I’ve never heard of anybody getting a free backpack cover. That actually sounds a little useful. Everyone who signed up for the Great Dublin Bike Ride got a free armband. I would not to be too surprised to find this is a statistical trick where actually 90% of the free handouts are armbands with a far smaller number of vests (which I have seen them handing out and seen people wearing) and a smaller again number of backpack covers.

    I do think that since car users will all have to get out of their car at some point and they may be forced to stop somewhere unexpected due to a mechanical failure or other emergency all car occupants should be required to wear high-viz at all times. Keeping a spare vest in the boot (which seems to be often used as an example of how reasonable people who are in favour of criminalising walking are) does not seem sufficient.

    Has anyone ever comee around a corner at speed at night and nearly hit a badly parked car? Seems like mandatory high-viz for cars should be pursued. Perhaps a campaign of education for a while but if people don’t take responsibility and paint their cars with high-viz a law may be needed. If it would save even one life…

  5. @eric Nolan

    If you want a backpack cover you can order one here and they’ll send it to you for free.

    http://rsaorders.ie/ProductMoreInfo.aspx?ProductID=RUCKCVR

  6. I fully support this along with day light running light son cars, Drivers wearing neck braces and crash helmets along with 5 point safety belts and road cages being mandatory

    these too will save lives, probably more than hi vis clothing

  7. 11 cyclist killed so far this year compared to 10 in the whole of 2016 http://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/ireland/11-cyclist-killed-so-far-this-year-compared-to-10-in-the-whole-of-2016-809123.html immediately goes to talking about cyclist visibility rather then detailing causes of deaths.

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