One in eight Irish motorists say they've had collision or near miss with cyclist

AA Insurance highlights steps motorists can take to help ensure safety of vulnerable road users

by Dave Atkinson   January 18, 2012  

AA car (picture credit The AA).jpg

One in eight Irish drivers say that they have either struck a cyclist or had a near miss with one during the past year according to a survey conducted by AA Motor Insurance, which highlights the risks faced by vulnerable road users including motorcyclists, pedestrians and horse riders.

The data, obtained as part of the November 2011 AA Motoring Panel Poll among more than 12,500 motorists in the Republic of Ireland, but also likely to have some similarity to the situation in the UK, found that 12 per cent of motorists said they had either collided with a cyclist during the past two years, or had a near miss with one.

There was no separate breakdown between the two categories of incident, nor did the survey seek to establish who might be perceived to be at fault, but the findings do underline the scale of the issue, as also underlined by comments to a number of articles here on in which users have recounted their own experience while out on their bikes.

Slightly fewer ­ 11 per cent ­ revealed that they had been involved in a similar incident involving a pedestrian or animal, 5 per cent with a motorcyclist, and just under 1 per cent with a horse and rider. The survey found that in all cases, male drivers were more likely than female motorists to have said that they had been involved in such an incident.

The results of the survey have been published during a week in which the High Court in London made an award of £4 million in damages against a motorist and his insurers following an incident that left a cyclist paralysed and in need of round-the-clock care for the rest of his life.

Along with the survey findings, AA Insurance issued advice to motorists on how to share the road safely with vulnerable users. It also highlighted that many incidents took place in poor weather or during the hours of darkness, and advised those such as cyclists and pedestrians to also take steps to try and ensure their safety.

While nearly half of all incidents took place in daylight hours, 20 per cent were at dusk and 28 per cent during the hours of darkness.

"Given that the peak traffic volumes occur during daylight hours, the number of incidents occurring after dark is disproportionately high," commented Conor Faughnan, Director of Policy at AA Ireland.

"Cyclists travelling after dark should make sure to wear reflective clothing or accessories and have lights at the front and the rear. Pedestrians should also stay visible after dark with reflective and light coloured clothing, stick to footpath where possible and avoid distractions such as texting while walking."

At 17 per cent, compared to a national average of 12 per cent, collisions or near-misses with cyclists were more prevalent in County Dublin than elsewhere, and while Mr Faughnan welcomed a downward trend in cycling casualties revealed by recent official statistics, he urged drivers to be on the lookout for bike drivers.

"While a considerable number of drivers in Dublin have had a scare involving a cyclist, Dublin is actually an extremely safe city in which to cycle and thankfully we¹ve seen a huge drop in traffic fatalities in the capital over the last two years," he explained. "However any life lost, is one too many. We can¹t emphasize enough the importance always checking your mirrors and keeping your full attention on the road."

Around one in five incidents overall were reported to have happened either when it was raining (17 per cent) or when there was mist or fog (4 per cent).

"Naturally road surfaces are slicker and visibility can be affected during downpours, cyclists may swerve to avoid a puddle you won¹t necessarily see, and pedestrians will be anxious to get out of the rain so motorists should exercise extreme care and expect the unexpected," Mr Faughnan added.

AA Ireland advice to drivers on vulnerable road users

  • Always check your mirrors for before turning.
  • Watch out for cyclists and motorcyclists coming up on your near side when turning left or moving over to the left ­ check mirrors and blind spots carefully.
  • Allow at least a metre when overtaking cyclists or horses as they may have to avoid hazards like drains, potholes or debris on the road that you may not be able to see.  You¹ll also need to avoid spooking the horse.
  • When parking check the door mirror and look behind you before you open the door.
  • When turning left allow any cyclist ahead of you to pass the junction rather than overtake them and turn sharply across their front wheel.
  • Don¹t overtake a cyclist or horse if you can see that the road narrows ahead.
  • Don¹t drive aggressively around cyclists or horses, sound your horn or rev your engine.
  • Judge a cyclist¹s approaching speed with care before pulling out at a junction.
  • Remember you must give way to all traffic including cyclists approaching from the right on roundabouts.
  • Be prepared to wait behind a cyclist or horse turning right in the same way you would for a car.
  • At night, use dipped headlights when approaching cyclists. Allow cyclists extra room in wet weather as surfaces will be wet and slippery.
  • Always watch out for motorcyclists when emerging from a junction.
  • Be extra cautious around schools, sports clubs and areas where children are active.
  • If your visibility is reduced slow down and keep your eyes peeled.

13 user comments

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"When parking check the door mirror and look behind you before you open the door."


posted by mad_scot_rider [533 posts]
18th January 2012 - 16:39

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Dunno about Ireland but, in the UK, most of that list are either legal requirements or Highway Code advice. Not that most drivers (or the police) take any notice of either.

posted by JohnS [198 posts]
18th January 2012 - 20:11

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Considering I had a motorist pull out from my left as I was going thru a roundabout yesterday (in Kinnegad, Ireland)and give me the two finger salute as I shouted at they don't give a chuff about any road/rules/regulations. Then a Tesco delivery van decided that he didn't need to slow down at all as he overtook me on a potholed country road that had to be 8 feet max....

But that is unfortunately the deal here where you can drive 'without a qualified driver' using L plates and the Gardai turn a blind eye to it as it means they'd have to do some work for a change....


The _Kaner's picture

posted by The _Kaner [375 posts]
18th January 2012 - 20:38

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In a logical world it's a ist that should be published and drummed into every motorist. Good safety advice is always presented as 'advisory' rather than obligatory which is the problem. Don't advise them tell them. If they don't listen fine them and then ban them. Then hang them!! Sorry got carried away there.,.

Christ on a Bike

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1004 posts]
18th January 2012 - 21:02

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I prefer to have their car crushed after the 2nd offence - better than a poxy £60 fine Devil

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posted by giff77 [1031 posts]
18th January 2012 - 21:10

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Surely the advice here is common sense. Unfortunately as I drum into the kids in my care, "common sense isn't really that common".

posted by Jonathing [47 posts]
18th January 2012 - 23:55

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I cycled the Irish coast a few years back and found the Irish drivers and Irish people in general (My family are Irish) to be very courteous and fully respectful of cyclists, I had no problems whatsoever. I've only scanned over this article but its obvious to anyone that Eire is a far more rural based country than UK and people to tend to race around the country roads hell for leather, I wouldn't be surprised by these figures for that reason alone..

Me, Myself and I

posted by phax71 [298 posts]
19th January 2012 - 8:45

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A metre when overtaking??? No!

Same width as a small car, please!

posted by a.jumper [677 posts]
19th January 2012 - 9:52

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Id say this is very Dublin centric or city centric at least to start with.

The standard and requirements for driving/gaining a licence, are about 30 years behing the UK. ROI has some of the most expensive car incurance premiums based on this alone.

As mentioned, the Irish are a lot more relaxed in nature and this has a few outcomes..
1.Tolerance is high as is awareness of cyclists needs in general.
2.Rules of the road are not obeyed or practised and awareness of them is below average for europe.

Overall, id feel safer on any country road in Ireland than in England but less willing to ever cycle in Dublin than London!

Oh, and Im Irish, lived in Norfolk for over 10 years.

posted by Farky [177 posts]
19th January 2012 - 13:52

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"Given that the peak traffic volumes occur during daylight hours, the number of incidents occurring after dark is disproportionately high," commented Conor Faughnan, Director of Policy at AA Ireland.

Not really, considering the evening rush-hour is in darkness for a few months each year ...

posted by John G [53 posts]
19th January 2012 - 14:07

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Farky wrote:
Id say this is very Dublin centric or city centric at least to start with.

The AA release linked in the article does give results and sample sizes by county at the bottom, so you can see responses by different areas.

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [7804 posts]
19th January 2012 - 14:08

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Can someone get AA Insurance's PR department to give's PR department a lesson in How To Do It, please?

Bez's picture

posted by Bez [363 posts]
19th January 2012 - 15:56

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Farky wrote:
Overall, id feel safer on any country road in Ireland than in England but less willing to ever cycle in Dublin than London!

Oh, and Im Irish, lived in Norfolk for over 10 years.

While all motorists are by far not perfect, generally Dublin now has one of the best road safety records in Europe.

And, while the target should be zero deaths, the amount of cyclists deaths per year in Dublin has been in low single figures for most of the last 10 years despite large increase in the amount of cyclists using the road in the same time.

With far fewer cyclists on them, rural roads still managed to attract 51.4% of cyclists deaths in Ireland between 1997 and 2009. So, I'm not sure if your trust in country roads vs Dublin City ones is well founded.

posted by Ginty [1 posts]
24th January 2012 - 16:05

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