The Irish Road Haulage Association (IRHA) says its supports greater protection for all road users but says proposed new legislation on the minimum passing distance of cyclists is not workable.
The IRHA believes that the proposed new legislation, introduced by Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty and Minister of State Ciarán Cannon, does little to promote road safety and mutual respect and understanding between road users and says irt will be unworkable.
The Road Traffic (Minimum Passing Distance of Cyclists) Bill 2017 obliges motorists to ensure that they are no closer than 1.5 metres to a cyclist as they pass on roads with a speed limit of 50km/h or higher. The minimum passing distance on roads with a speed limit of less than 50km/h would be 1 metre.
The IRHA believes that everything possible should be done to make roads safer, especially for the more vulnerable road users, including cyclists but introducing legislation in this area is not the answer. At present, the law clearly obliges motorists to take care when overtaking. The Road Traffic (Traffic and Parking) Regulations 1997 states that “a driver shall not overtake, or attempt to overtake, if to do so would endanger, or cause inconvenience to, any other person.”
This measure already imposes a duty on motorists not to begin an overtaking manoeuvre unless it can be completed without risk to other road users, the IRHA says. However, cyclists also must obey the rules of the road to reduce the possibility of a collision. Cyclists must make sure to keep to the left and always look behind and give the proper signal before moving off, changing lanes or making a turn, according to the IRHA.
The IRHA says the proposed new law places no onus on the cyclist to check for the presence of other road users or make a signal before veering from the left or attempting to make a turn, while at the same time imposing a strict obligation on the motorist. If new legislation is needed to improve safety, it should be used to ensure that all road users are compelled to consider others and use the road safely, the IRHA contends.
IRHA President Verona Murphy says that the proposed Bill is not the answer and that the emphasis should be on a greater awareness and enforcement of the existing rules of the road.
Ms Murphy says: “Professional drivers tend to more aware of other road users such as cyclists, the road is their workplace. Haulage drivers in particular are obliged to undergo continuous training every year including training on safety.
At present there is no obligation on cyclist to undergo even the most basic of training before using the roads. The IRHA would like to see a greater emphasis on ensuring that all road users are aware of the importance of road safety and would like to see the wearing of safety gear such as helmets become mandatory for all cyclists, a sensible measure which has been adopted in many jurisdictions.”