It’s an unfortunate fact that many people, no matter how safely they drive, will end up being involved in a road accident at some point in their lives. Even if the accident is minor, it can often still shake you up and make you nervous of getting back on the road whether as a driver, passenger or pedestrian.
The 7th to 13th October 2013 saw the Road Safety Authority (RSA) Road Safety Week in Ireland. The RSA released road death figures for the year which sadly saw an increase of 18 deaths on our roads in comparison to the same period last year. Even with Road Safety Week over for the year, it is important to remember some basic principles that will keep you safe on the roads.
Coping with an accident
Unfortunately, however careful you are, other drivers might not have the same mind-set. Hundreds of people are injured on our roads every year through no fault of their own and knowing how to cope if you are involved in such an accident is really important. Never move yourself or other casualties if you think they may be injured unless they are in immediate danger. Telephone the emergency services and give them as much information as you can about the situation, location and casualties. Don’t move vehicles in a serious accident but make use of warning triangles if possible. In minor accidents, you should move vehicles to the side of the road and ensure that you exchange details with the other driver.
Longer term, if you are badly injured, make sure that you know your rights. It is not worth suffering in silence; road accident claims could help ease the burden of being off work so speak to an expert to see whether you are entitled to claim.
It is illegal to use a mobile phone whilst driving in Ireland unless you are using a hands free device with a loud-speaker. If you use a hand-held mobile phone, you could face a €435 fine, a six month driving ban and even three months in jail. Portable hands free kits such as headphones connected to your mobile phone are also not allowed. Although it is permissible to use your phone on a loud-speaker, it is essential that you feel comfortable with doing so and you must be sure that it will not distract you from driving. Whilst the penalties for using a mobile phone whilst driving are severe, the consequences should you become distracted and cause an accident can be much worse.
We are all guilty of occasionally breaking the speed limit. Unfortunately, over 40 per cent of fatal collisions are caused by excessive speed. The speed limits are there for a reason and whilst you might feel guilty for running late for your appointment, that is nothing compared to the constant nagging of your conscience telling you that you have killed somebody because you were going too fast. The statistics speak for themselves, 90 per cent of people hit by a car at 60 km/h will die; 50 per cent will die if hit by a car at 50 km/h but only 10 per cent will die if hit at 30 km/h. That is why the speed limit in built up areas is restricted to 30.