Keep our A&E’s empty on St Patrick’s Day

Posted in Connect on March 12, 2020.

With the Coronavirus/ Covid 19 outbreak resulting in St. Patrick’s Day parades been cancelled in Ireland, road safety professionals and An Garda Síochána are appealing to all those planning on celebrating the day with parties or social gatherings, to have a designated driver or other safe way to get home if drinks are on the menu, so A&E Departments are not clogged up on St Patrick’s Day to deal with more pressing issues.

Other suggestions include:

      • Car-pool with a Designated Driver
      • Pre-book a taxi
      • Arrange to stay at the house or with friends or family

While the Coronavirus may be affecting road safety policing in other European Countries, this is not the case in Ireland as An Garda Síochána will be busy as usual in the lead up to and over St. Patrick’s Day. The devices used by An Garda Síochána to test for the presence of intoxicants have interchangeable mouthpieces that are changed for every test and there is no threat of spreading the virus this way.

So if you are going celebrating this St. Patrick’s Day, please make it for a fun and festive celebration but please be considerate of others in your community who may not be celebrating. This year, St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Tuesday (March 17th) so some people may plan on partying for a long weekend.

Unfortunately, some of these people might also be driving home from their festivities and therefore, the night out has also become potentially dangerous. There are parties at people’s homes and at bars. Hospital Accident and Emergency Departments across the country traditionally report a huge increase in the number of admissions on St Patrick’s Day and a high percentage of these are pedestrians who have fallen after over-indulging on alcohol. These pedestrians are not alone putting themselves at risk when using the streets and roads but other road users also. Please make sure you are wearing a high visibility vest/ jacket and have a torch and remember to walk on the correct side of the road, facing oncoming traffic if there is no footpath.

Deirdre Caulfield, Road Safety Officer, Galway Co. Council said ‘If you are going to party, plan ahead. Keep the number of a taxi company with you, learn about public transportation and get home safely. Even if you will not be celebrating this St. Patrick’s Day, keep in mind that in the past people have been involved in collisions on St. Patrick’s day, so pay attention to others on the road”.

“An Garda Síochána are most concerned that Fatal Collisions continue to increase. As of March 11th, 36 people have been killed in single vehicle collisions.  Motorists need to re-focus on simple road safety advice and consider their personal safety every time they use the public roads. Again, plan ahead for your journey.  Inappropriate speed, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, using mobile phones when driving and failure to wear seat belts continue to be critical negative factors in most fatal and serious injury collisions. Drivers on learner permits must display “L” plates and be accompanied by a qualified driver.  All motorists are reminded that Speed Limits  are designed as the appropriate speed limit in ideal conditions considering such factors as road conditions, weather conditions, brightness, traffic volumes and the mechanical condition of your vehicle.  In the absence of ideal conditions, motorists must reduce their speed accordingly said Kevin Gately, Superintendent, Community Engagement, Castlebar-Westport Garda Síochána.

Noel Gibbons, Road Safety Officer, Mayo Co. Council said “We want to keep road safety on people’s minds this St Patrick’s weekend, as it is a time when people socialise quite a bit and they need to take extra care on the roads. The big messages, as always, will be that people should never drive under the influence of drink or drugs, slow down, always wear your seat belt, never use a handheld mobile phone while driving and don’t drive tired and also for pedestrians to make themselves visible to other road users.  If you need to ask yourself whether you are okay to drive, the answer is ‘no’. We want people to have fun, but also be responsible. Part of that responsibility is arranging a safe way to get home.”

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