Road users urged to ‘be safe and be seen’

Pedestrians and road users are being urged to be safe and be seen while out walking the roads these dark Winter evenings.

The strong appeal came from councillors and the executive at the Cavan-Belturbet meeting of the Municipal District Authority last Friday afternoon as speaker after speaker gave accounts of dangerous encounters with walkers out on the roads who were not wearing appropriate high-visibility clothing such as jackets or armbands.

The important road safety issue was put on the agenda by Cllr Madeleine Argue following one recent such encounter. “It is just a nightmare, especially if it is raining and those out walking are wearing dark clothes,” she said, adding there is “no excuse” for not being suitably dressed.

Her colleague, Peter McVitty, who runs his own hauliage business, said it was like “hopping your head off a stone wall” trying to get this message across to some people.

Noting there were more people out walking this year due to COVID-19 restrictions, Cllr McVitty pointed out that even walkers on footpaths, in poorly lit areas, can be in danger if a lorry driver can’t see them and they don’t realise the affects of the wind of the lorry coming along side them when meeting oncoming traffic.

Fianna Fáil’s Patricia Walsh and Sean Smith also joined in the debate, the latter calling for some sort of public awareness campaign on the issue locally.

“Maybe The Anglo-Celt could have a particular page with information and warning people of the dangers of going out walking with dark clothing. If this serious issue is highlighted on an ongoing basis in such a way, it will pay dividends,” suggested Cllr Smith.

Cllr John Paul Feeley referred to the now annual Christmas anti-drink driving campaigns by the gardaí and Road Safety Authority (RSA) and said there should be a similar campaign for walkers to light up. He suggested making a submission to the RSA on the matter.

Calling for common sense on the issue, he also said there were a significant number of motorists driving with no lights on.

The chairman Brendan Fay also supported the motion and backed the idea of a campaign between the Celt and Cavan County Council to drive this message home to the public.

The Director of Services, Brendan Jennings, said that he would see it from a number of perspectives, including walker, runner and driver.

“The biggest issue is illumination, both cars having their lights on and having them clean and pedestrians and cyclists being lit up,” he said, emphasising that all road users have a duty to be aware of what is going on.

Mr Jennings said people need to wear high-viz gear even in lit up areas

The director said people were being urged to get out and stay active but, in tandem with that, he suggested that they could work alongside the RSA and media partners to ascertain what extra can be done in relation to this issue.

“It is about changing habits and cultures,” said Mr Jennings.