Rose of Tralee, Rachel Duffy, is pictured with Deputy Garda Commissioner, Anne Marie McMahon, and Professor Eoin Sheehan, orthopaedic consultant at the Midlands Regional Hospital in Tullamore at the launch of the Midlands 'Be Safe Be Seen' winter road safety awareness campaign.

"Be Safe, Be Seen" campaign launched in Midlands

The Deputy Garda Commissioner Anne Marie McMahon and the trauma specialists in Tullamore hospital have warned parents of the dangers of e-scooters, given the growing volume of accidents arising from them and the lasting medical impact to children and teenagers from high-velocity accidents.

The Gardaí and orthopaedic and emergency consultants were joined by members of the frontline emergency services, teachers, school children and the Rose of Tralee Rachel Duffy at Scoil Sheosaimh Naofa, Ballinagar, Tullamore, Co. Offaly for a Midlands-wide awareness campaign, encouraging children and teenagers to ‘Be Safe and Be Seen’ given that wintertime is now here.

Deputy Garda Commissioner McMahon said: “Gardaí have seen increased usage of e-scooters, especially in towns and urban areas. Members of An Garda Síochána have attended collisions involving e-scooters where serious injuries have been sustained. Regrettably there has been one fatality and 24 serious injury collisions involving e-scooters to date in 2022”.

Given the speed and impact of these vehicles, they are not a suitable mode of transport for young teenagers or children. I would also like to remind anyone considering buying an e-scooter that it is an offence to supply a mechanically propelled vehicle to a person under 16 years of age for use in a public place,” added the Deputy Garda Commissioner.

Vast majority of pedestrians killed in 2022 were not wearing high visibility clothing or carrying a light

In addition, Deputy Garda Commissioner McMahon said she wanted to highlight the importance of wearing high visibility clothing when out walking, cycling or motorcycling. “So far in 2022, 25 pedestrians have been killed on our roads, the vast majority of whom were not wearing high visibility clothing or carrying a light. My message today is that all road users should be mindful of their own safety and the safety of others on the roads this winter period”, added Ms. McMahon.

Professor Eoin Sheehan, orthopaedic consultant at the Midlands Regional Hospital in Tullamore said: “Mechanised vehicles such as e-scooters have a weapon like impact on the human body such is the force and impact involved. The lack of high-visibility clothing and helmets along with the speed of e-scooters is causing catastrophic injuries. Only this week, new research in the UK has shown e-scooter accidents have tripled between 2020 and 2021”.

Orthopaedic consultants Professor Khalid Merghani, Ms. Dorothy Niall and Mr. Muiris Kennedy also warned of the dangers of e-scooters and the importance of being visible.

Professor Khalid Merghani said: “International research undertaken in an urban area over a six-year period shows that the injury rate for riders of electric scooters was higher than the national rates for riders of motorcycles, bicycles and cars, and pedestrians, which is a staggering statistic”.

On the issue of visibility, consultant Ms. Dorothy Niall said: “I cannot overstate the dangers of not wearing high-viz clothing. The dark mornings and evenings are here for the winter, and unless pedestrians, joggers and cyclists are wearing high viz jackets that shine brightly, they will simply not be seen”.

Consultant Mr. Muiris Kennedy who is also based in the Midlands Regional Hospital, Tullamore warned: “This is not just a rural issue but a very real urban one as well. Teenagers and children very often think that because they are cycling in a lit up urban area that they don’t need high viz jackets. Nothing could be further from the truth. My advice to road users is ‘Just because you can see ahead – does not mean others can see you’. Plain and simple; you must be seen in order to be safe”, he added.

Rose of Tralee Rachel Duffy said: As the current International Rose of Tralee l am delighted to support the “ BE SAFE BE SEEN “ campaign. To highlight the importance of all aspects of road safety is so essential and significant. With so many thousands of schoolchildren travelling to and from our schools, it is important to educate children and by extension their parents/guardians as to the continuous message of all aspects of road safety.”

Also attending the launch in Co. Offaly were the emergency services including, the air ambulance, national emergency ambulances, Tullamore fire brigade incident & rescue units & Garda response units.