The Road Safety Authority (RSA) and the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) are appealing to people travelling abroad over the summer months not to leave road safety in the departure lounge.
This comes as figures obtained from the Department of Foreign Affairs indicate that up to 193 Irish citizens died while abroad in 2011, an decrease of 18 people on 2010 figures. A number of these were as a result of road collisions. Further research indicates that 9 Irish people alone have been killed in road crashes in Australia from 2010 to 2012. A number of others were also seriously injured in road crashes in Australia.
An estimated 40,000 people emigrated in 2011 according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO). The total number of Irish people emigrating in the 2006-08 period was 42,000, but in the period 2009-11, it rose to 86,000 people.
The RSA and USI are asking anyone who is planning to travel over the coming months to be aware of the risks associated with driving in an unfamiliar country and familiarise themselves with the road traffic law at their destination. Mr. Noel Brett, Chief Executive, RSA said: “It’s an exciting time, embarking on a trip with your friends or family and getting the opportunity to see another country. Our message is to be safe on the roads wherever you are and don’t let tragedy come in the way of your adventure. Road deaths happen everywhere but they can be prevented if you are a safe road user.”
The RSA is advising anyone who is considering travelling abroad as a driver, motorcyclist, cyclist or pedestrian, to familiarise themselves with the rules of the road of the country they are visiting.
“After a long flight, you will be tired, my advice is leave the driving until you have slept and rested. You don’t want to fall asleep behind the wheel! In some countries a level of alcohol is permitted while driving, our advice is to never ever drink and drive, don’t risk it.” added Mr. Brett.
Mr. Gary Redmond, President, Union of Students in Ireland (USI) is urging students to always buckle up your seatbelt, “If you are not strapped in and you crash, you will be thrown around the car injuring or killing yourself or other passengers. Without a seatbelt you are a potential killer.”
Redmond added “Many young people are needlessly killed on our roads. While abroad, good weather means that many young people are out walking or cycling. If so, please make yourself visible to motorists. Wear something reflective, so you can be seen even if darkness falls unexpectedly. Drivers cannot avoid what they cannot see. If you are heading out socialising, please leave the car at home if you are drinking get a taxi, bus or take turns with your friends to be the designated driver. Don’t drink or drug drive and certainly don’t accept a lift from a friend that has been drinking alcohol or taking drugs.”
Redmond highlighted that “In foreign countries the road conditions are often very different to Ireland and can change rapidly. Familiarise yourself with the local rules of the road and insure that you have the correct license and insurance for the vehicle you are travelling in. Enjoy your trip but remember to slow down and arrive home alive.”
The RSA has the following advice for anyone planning to drive in another country:
Familiarise yourself with the rules of the road of the country you will be visiting;
Check your licence is valid in that country:you must be aged 18 with a full licence to drive in most EU Countries, with the exception of Austria, Germany, Hungry, United Kingdom and Norway, where a full licence holder is allowed to drive at the age of 17;
Don’t drive after a long flight when the risk of falling asleep at the wheel will be significantly higher;
Know the law of the country you will be visiting as the penalties for road traffic offences could be more serious;
Learner permits are not valid outside of Ireland. This means that people driving outside of the Republic of Ireland on a learner permit are not licenced to do so;
Don’t carry more passengers than the vehicle allows;
If you buy a vehicle while abroad, make sure you know the history of the vehicle, ensure it has the equivalent to the Irish NCT, has seatbelts fitted for every passenger and ensure that every passenger wears them;
Never ever drink and drive, regardless of the law.
For further information on road safety abroad, visit the Department of Foreign Affairs website atwww.dfa.ie. For information on the rules of the road in other countries, visit their respective websites.