— 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.”