A new initiative to improve road safety in rural areas – which will include a farm-machinery focus – has been launched by Macra na Feirme (Macra) and the Road Safety Authority (RSA).

The partnership will focus on four key areas including:

  • The dangers of mobile distraction;
  • The importance of wearing seatbelts;
  • Be safe, be seen;
  • How to prevent driver fatigue.

Another element will comprise education and awareness around farm-machinery safety with a special emphasis on knowledge around the towing of trailers and what regulations are in place.

The RSA will offer training to youth leaders in Macra – which represents a rural community of over 10,000 young people aged 17-35 – on how to create a positive environment for educating their members.

Working in conjunction with the RSA, Macra’s Rural Youth Committee will lead the partnership, which will bring road-safety-awareness training to members around the country.

Commenting on road safety in rural areas, Sam Waide, CEO of the RSA said: “We recently released figures showing that 78% of road fatalities so far in 2021 have occurred on rural roads.

“We cannot get complacent, early intervention with local communities can help us to tackle this.

“We urge all vehicle drivers to slow down, be mindful of agricultural vehicles on rural roads and vulnerable road users, particularly as the evenings get darker and driving conditions deteriorate in the winter months.

“Working with Macra na Feirme is a key partnership for the RSA and we look forward to engaging with their members to raise awareness and provide essential training to help reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roads.”

Macra doing its part for road safety

Mr John Keane, president of Macra added: “We are delighted to be working with the RSA to raise awareness of vital road safety measures with all our members.

“As Covid-19 restrictions ease, we know that people are using the roads in greater numbers and Macra members are getting back in their vehicles, we want to make sure they do so safely.

“We are urging our members to remember the dangers of mobile distraction, the importance of wearing seatbelts and to be safe and be seen by ensuring flashing beacons on agricultural vehicles are maintained and in working order.

“Road safety is a shared responsibility and our aim with this partnership is to instill responsible behaviour in our members so that we can do our part to keeping Irish roads safe.”

Superintendent Michael Corbett, Community Engagement Bureau, An Garda Síochána has also welcomed the partnership.

“Gardai regularly have to confront the devastation caused due to dangerous behaviour on rural roads so we are pleased with efforts to improve road safety awareness and education among a younger, rural cohort of road users.

“Each of us have a shared responsibility to improve road behaviour and we look forward to working with the RSA and Macra na Feirme to engage and educate communities at a local level.”