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TD says RSA’s focus on high-vis “helps shift blame onto vulnerable” road users in Court

Galway TD Ciaran Cannon has criticised the Road Safety Authority’s strong focus on high-vis gear for people walking and cycling after it was used as part of the defence case convicted of careless driving causing the death of a teenager who was cycling in Dublin.

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High-vis and helmets are not mandatory, but the question of if victims are wearing such gear is a recurring issue raised in court cases in Ireland and the UK.

29-year-old truck driver David Morrissey of Glendale Meadow, Leixlip, Co Kildare, who had pleaded not guilty, was convicted of careless driving causing the death of a 19-year-old Harry Boland in 2018.

The 19-year-old was cycling in a cycle lane on the Stillorgan Road, across from RTE, when Morrissey turned his truck left into a side street. Boland set off as the traffic lights turned green just ahead of the truck driver moving off, but Boland was crushed under the wheels of the turning construction truck.

According to court reports, the prosecution said that Boland was — with the aid of several wide-angle mirrors — visible from the cab of the truck and that Morrissey should have seen him. But the defence claimed that Morrissey had looked, but had not seen him and deflected by questioning whether Boland had been wearing a high-viz jacket, which is not a legal requirement.

The case was adjourned for sentencing until June 20.

After the conviction was announced, Deputy Cannon said: “Questions were raised as to whether Mr Boland had been listening to music on headphones and whether he had been wearing a high-viz jacket. Disappointing to see the lack of high-viz being used by defence to excuse careless driving. RSA Ireland helps shift blame onto vulnerable.”

The Galway TD added: “Can you imagine the consternation if a driver was asked; ‘Did you have the radio on in your vehicle & at what level was your volume set?’, ‘Have you considered buying a lighter coloured vehicle, or perhaps painting your vehicle bright yellow so that it’s more visible to others?'”

Researchers covering transport sociology and road safety call collisions where motorists look but do not see people cycling and walking as “looked-but-failed-to-see” collisions due to “inattentional blindness”. High-vis is unlikely to make a difference in such cases.

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