‘Drivers get blamed for everything!’
People walking on county roads shouldn't have to dress like traffic cones or act as if they are on the deck of an aircraft carrier.
That’s according to Green Party Cllr for Cobh Alan O’Connor who was responding to a recent motion brought to Cork County Council asking that it be made mandatory for pedestrians, runners and cyclists to wear high visibility clothing on roads where no footpath is in place.
Cllr O’Connor said, while we all want safer roads, he felt the motion was misdirected and would “move us towards a victim-blaming culture”.
He added: “By far the greatest responsibility lies with those operating vehicles travelling at high speed. They impose danger on other road users.
“To make it compulsory for vulnerable road users to wear high-vis would tend more strongly to the conclusion that it is their fault if an accident were to happen.”
Cllr O’Connor said when motor vehicles were first allowed on public roads in Britain, their speed was restricted to four miles per hour and they had to be preceded by someone waving a red flag.
“I'm not advocating a return to the days of the red flag, but that attitude correctly identifies the real danger on the road,” he said.
The motion was brought to council by Fianna Fáil Cllr for Fermoy Frank O'Flynn who said it was about making roads safer for all users and that “drivers get blamed for everything”.
“It can be very difficult for drivers, and of course they’re always wrong. The person using the road, whether it's walking or cycling, they must also take responsibility. You must be seen to be safe,” he said.
According to Cllr O’Flynn, a driver can see someone wearing high visibility clothing from up to 500 metres away, as opposed to just 50 metres with normal clothing.
On its website, the Irish Road Safety Authority (RSA) advises vulnerable road users to stay to the right side of the road where no footpaths are in place and to walk no more than two abreast.
The RSA also encourages walkers, runners and cyclists to increase their visibility by wearing reflective armbands, a high-visibility belt or other reflective or fluorescent clothing. Carrying a torch is also advised.
According to the website, more than two-thirds of fatal pedestrian collisions happen at night.
Responding to the motion, Fianna Fáil Cllr for Kanturk-Mallow Gearoid Murphy suggested the council remove the word “mandatory” from the motion.
He suggested the motion should instead institute a public information campaign for road safety and the wearing of high visibility clothing for vulnerable road users.