A safety initiative entitled “Light Up” will take place nationally on Wednesday 20th and Thursday 21st February 2013.
Its aim is to address the significant issue of defective, broken, missing or inappropriate use of vehicle lighting. Garda members will specifically target and intercept drivers who have defective lighting, or are using them inappropriately, on their vehicles.
Members of the public have frequently been advised and reminded of the necessity to ensure all legally required lights and lamps are in working order. Whilst financial constraints are appreciated, it is very apparent that some are not heeding the message, and vehicles with only one headlight or tail light are regularly seen on our roads.
This situation left unchecked creates significant danger to all road users. Drivers of vehicles with defective lighting will have compromised visibility. In addition, drivers of other vehicles could easily mistake a vehicle with one headlight with, for example, a motorcycle. On a dark narrow road this could lead to a very serious road traffic collision, with additional dangers for pedestrians. This situation must be addressed immediately and all vehicles must be able to see and be seen.
Similarly, Garda members will be targeting the inappropriate use of fog lights. These high intensity fog lights and fog lamps dazzle and distract other drivers and could easily cause a collision. They must only be used in fog or falling snow. Some motorists however, use them to compensate when a dipped headlight beam is broken.
Members of the public are being advised of this initiative in advance. This will give drivers and riders an opportunity and an incentive to rectify any defects that may be present on their vehicles and thus avoid prosecution, whilst at the same time make their vehicles safer.
Assistant Commissioner Gerard Phillips commented, “We are advising the public of what will be happening in advance. We would prefer to have the defect remedied rather than prosecute. Too many people are lax when one light or bulb blows but the simple reality is that your range of vision is severely compromised, plus others may find it difficult to see you. In simple terms, a one headlight car could be mistaken for a motorcycle or make it impossible for you too see that pedestrian out walking because you have reduced your range of vision by 50%.”
He continued, “We continually receive complaints about people using fog lights on the front of their vehicles and fog lamps on the rear when there is no fog or falling snow. They are non directional and are much brighter than other lights and lamps on your vehicle thereby dazzling and distracting other drivers. It’s a simple choice. Please take note of the date of this operation, remedy your defect, turn off your fog lights and lamps or you risk prosecution.”
Noel Brett, Chief Executive of the RSA had this advice for motorists. “We have seen a marked deterioration in the number of vehicles which fail their NCT or Commercial Vehicle Roadworthiness (CVR) test because of defective lights. In 2012 over 550,000 cars were found to have defective lights at NCT. That’s over 1 in 5 of the national vehicle fleet. It is extremely important to have correctly working lights on your vehicle and I would urge every road-user to make sure all of your lights are in proper working order before you start your journey.
“Think about it - how can you be safe if you can’t be seen? Before you start your journey, take a couple of minutes to turn on your lights and check them - this simple check could be the difference in you coming home safely tonight. When driving with a defective headlight the driver will have an unlit portion of the road ahead and may not see a pedestrian or cyclist”
“I would also like to remind motorists to only use their front and rear fog lights in dense fog and to switch off in clear weather. Similarly, front and rear fog lamps should only be used in dense fog or falling snow. Never use front or rear fog lights in normal driving conditions as they tend to dazzle other road users.”
In relation to the recent upsurge in road deaths Assistant Commissioner Phillips appealed to all road users to take extra care on the roads.
“We need to immediately reverse the recent significant increase in road deaths. We are appealing to road users to get the basics right and take responsibility. In particular, slow down and appreciate how long it will take to stop in an emergency situation - it’s more than you might think. Please also wear your seatbelt at all times, and ensure all your passengers always do the same. From 2012 we know of 16 deaths where a seatbelt was not worn by a driver or passenger. This should not happen in this day and age. We are also appealing to pedestrians to ensure that you wear high visibility clothing when out walking, especially at night, as again we are aware of dark clothing being a contributory factor in some collisions involving pedestrians. Please give yourself every chance of being seen.”
Noel Brett added the following, “It has not been a good start to 2013 for road safety. 30 lives tragically cut short, 19 drivers, 2 passengers, 6 pedestrians, 2 motorcyclists and 1 cyclist. All avoidable deaths and a reason for each life needlessly lost. I’m asking every road user to set their own personal target to return to the life-saving behaviour they have shown over the last number of years. I’ve said before that the greatest risk we now face daily, when using the roads, is complacency. Using the roads is still the most dangerous thing we do every day irrespective of age. We need to remember this, whether driving, cycling or walking.”