— Senator claims he’s “not advocating for a nanny state” while wanting to force people to wear high-vis vests
— Fine Gael leader of the senate says “I agree with him”
Fianna Fail’s senate spokesperson on justice last week said they wanted to criminalise walking and cycling without high-visibility vests. The call seemed to be mainly referring to rural areas, but did not specify this.
It is already illegal not to have reflectors on bicycles and people cycling can be issued with on-the-spot fines using lights in the hours of darkness. Some cycling campaigners point out that there is little evidence supporting the idea that high-vis is effective in preventing collisions.
Senator Denis O’Donovan (Fianna Fail), Fianna Fail’s senate spokesperson on justice, said: “The issue of road safety crosses my mind often because a large number of people, particularly cyclists and pedestrians, are killed on the roads. I raised the issue at the start of the session. I ask the Leader to convey to the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government my request that he make high visibility vests compulsory for cyclists and pedestrians.” Quotes are via kildarestreet.com, where the full transcript can be found.
He added: “I understand that, on average, approximately 50 of the people killed on the roads each year are not wearing high visibility vests. I frequently drive in rural areas. When negotiating country roads, especially at this time of year when we have a great deal of fog, rain and mist, it can be difficult when one encounters a walker or cyclist without a visibility vest.
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“Many rules and regulations are in place governing safety in cars. The possibility of making visibility vests mandatory should be considered. I am not advocating for a nanny state but if this measure could save one or two lives each year, it should be made compulsory. Perhaps a pilot project could be introduced for children making the journey to and from school. The elderly are also particularly vulnerable as are pedestrians and cyclists,” said O’Donovan
Senator Maurice Cummins (Fine Gael), the leader of the senate, said: “Senator O’Donovan spoke about deaths on our roads, of which there have been many in recent months. He discussed the need for high-visibility vests for cyclists and pedestrians and I agree with him.”
Cummins recalled: “I remember Senator Sheahan from Kerry outlining similar circumstances not so long ago. He also stated that there is a need for such vests for pedestrians in particular. Many people walk lonely dark roads. For their own safety, in the interests of road safety and for the benefit of drivers, people should wear high-visibility vests in such circumstances. I agree with the Senator in this regard.”
As we have reported before, Senator Tom Shehan (Fine Gael) — who previous called on mandtory high-vis — said that even in cases when a pedestrian is killed, the motorist is the “most vulnerable person on the road”. He has a number of times recounted where he as a driver has had very close calls with people walking on rural roads.