THE Road Safety Authority (RSA) and An Garda Síochána have joined forces to issue an appeal to road-users in Offaly to stay safe on the roads over the Christmas and New Year period to prevent further needless tragedy and suffering.
RSA and Garda research has revealed that from 1997 to 2008, 13 people have been killed and 39 seriously injured on Offaly roads during the Christmas and New Year period.
Up to last Friday, 201 people have died on Irish roads this year.
The RSA and An Garda Sochna are urging road-users to take responsibility for their actions on the roads over the coming weeks and to be aware of the effect that bad weather conditions can have on driving.
Mr Noel Brett, Chief Executive of the RSA said, "Christmas is a time for celebration with family and friends, but for hundreds of families around the country, the festive period will be spent mourning their loved ones who have died on our roads. We do not want any more people grieving this Christmas so we are asking you to make sure you get home safely to your family."
He continued, "slow down, don't drive if you are feeling tired and never ever drink or drug drive. If you are going out for a night out, leave the keys at home and arrange alternative transport. And don't forget that you are still at risk the next morning, so if you have been drinking the night before, time is the only cure for making sure that the alcohol is out of your system," said Mr Brett.
Assistant Commissioner John Twomey, An Garda Sochna commented, "An Garda Sochna is committed to making sure that this Christmas is a safe and happy one for communities across Ireland who have become all too familiar with grief and tragedy as a result of road collisions.
"As previously An Garda Sochna will be actively engaged in enforcement over the Festive Season with particular emphasis on Driving under the influence of Drink/Drugs and Speeding. An Garda Sochna appeals to all road users to be careful on the roads this Christmas, particularly in bad weather and get home safely to your families."
Assistant Commissioner Twomey added, "This year, we have seen too much tragedy and heartache in communities around the country so we are urging you to act responsibly on the roads and make sure your family isn't grieving this Christmas. Make sure you and your loved ones know the dangers associated with speeding, drink and drug driving and driving when you're tired – don't wait for a tragedy to remind them."
Pedestrians and cyclists are reminded that as vulnerable road users they need to ensure their own safety by wearing high visibility jackets or armbands when using the roads.
Motorists are also advised to ensure their vehicles are roadworthy and not to get caught out if severe weather strikes again this year.
In particular the RSA and An Garda Sochna are urging vehicle owners to check the tread depth and pressure of their tyres and ensure all lights on their vehicles are working properly and if broken, replace them immediately.
The RSA and An Garda Sochna concluded by wishing all road-users a safe and happy Christmas and New Year.