Week’s events: Road safety and sleeping disorders, clamping and fairness, #Luassafety and jobs

12th October, 2014

With evidence suggesting that driver fatigue is a factor in one in five road collisions, and with one in ten Irish motorists recently surveyed by the RSA admitting that they have fallen asleep at some point at the wheel of the car, it is fitting that Irish Road Safety Week kicked off with the annual RSA lecture entitled ‘Fatigue, Sleep Disorders and Driving Risk’. I was honoured to give the closing remarks at the event which was attended by more than 100 road safety stakeholders. Among them was John Dixon, who suffers from sleep apnoea, which can cause him to wake, due to breathing difficulties, 200 times a night. Those suffering from the condition are seven times more likely to fall asleep at the wheel and John has taken part in an ad campaign to highlight the dangers of fatigue and sleep disorders in an attempt to mitigate driver risk. With the number of deaths on our roads this year roughly equivalent to last, it is incumbent on us all to remain vigilant to the challenges to driver safety and continue to bring them to public attention.


This week I introduced the Vehicle Clamping Bill 2014 in Seanad Éireann, which, when enacted, will regulate clamping for the first time on both public and private property. Most people accept clamping as a necessary part of parking control enforcement. However, a considerable source of irritation for many motorists is the inconsistency in release fees and inadequate notice that clamping is in operation, especially on private property. This Bill puts clamping regulatory control solely in the hands of the NTA, which will be responsible for setting maximum clamp release and vehicle relocation charges; ensuring that appropriate signage is provided in areas where clamping is in operation; and establishing appeals and complaints procedures so that clamping, irrespective of where it is carried out, is done in a fair, transparent and reasonable manner.


Later in the week I launched a Luas safety campaign, which highlights a worrying trend in respect of people’s behaviour in and around Luas tracks. The campaign, entitled, #Luassafety; Is your mobile worth your life? is being pushed out via social media and shows CCTV footage taken from Luas Drivers’ cabs of potentially lethal, near miss pedestrian incident (https://www.youtube.com/user/officialluas). With 71 episodes recorded this year alone, where drivers had to employ the emergency break because people were texting, choosing music or surfing the web on their mobile devices while crossing a Luas track, the potential for tragedy is immense. The message is simple; when crossing Luas tracks put the phone away and give the road your full attention.


On the jobs front this week, we saw the second week in a row where more than 1,400 jobs were announced in one week. Among them were 50 jobs at multinational tech firm, Citrix, in East Point and 50 more at Irish company, FINEOS, also at East Point. As Budget negotiations progressed through the week, the Government remains focused on putting the most effective job creation measures in place and securing our recovery. It was this message that I brought to the people of Cabra when I called to see them this week and listen to what they had to say.