Westmeath County Council are supporting the ‘Gift A Lift’ road safety Christmas Campaign, raising awareness of the importance of planning the journey home during the festive season.
Westmeath County Council Fire Service, together with An Garda Síochána and the National Ambulance Service, have launched their Annual Campaign highlighting the need to think ahead when heading out over the coming weeks.
During the Christmas and New Year celebrations, it can be difficult at times to get transport home at the end of a night out.
Colm Smith, Road Safety Officer with Westmeath County Council explained that the “Gift of a Lift’ Christmas card is a novel way of getting across a serious message at a time of year when road users need to be extra careful, as roads are at their busiest and conditions can be dangerous. The idea is that you ‘gift’ a family member or friend a lift home or organise a taxi for them over the festive season, ensuring they arrive home safely.
Inspector Peter Gilsenan from Westmeath Roads Policing Unit welcomed the initiative, adding: “We must all work together keep each other safe on our roads. As of 13 December 2023, there have been 176 fatalities countrywide, four of which have occurred in County Westmeath. That’s four empty seats at the table this Christmas, which is far too high. In addition, there have been many serious collisions, most of which didn’t even make the news headlines, but which have left people with life changing injuries”.
An Garda Síochána have been running the Christmas enforcement campaign with targeted mandatory intoxicant testing checkpoints.
“A zero-tolerance policy will be applied to any breaches of road safety. We wish everyone to have a happy, safe Christmas and our message remains clear - slow down and never, ever drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol,” added Inspector Gilsenan.
Also supporting the ‘Gift of a lift’ Initiative are the National Ambulance Service and Westmeath County Council Fire Service. The effects of attending the scene of road traffic collisions can be profound on members of the emergency services as well as families, friends, and local communities.
Alan O’Neill, Chief Fire Officer with Westmeath County Council Fire Service, and Patrick Smyth, Assistant Chief Ambulance Officer have the following message: “We are urging all road users to act responsibly and to not drink or drug drive when using the roads throughout Christmas, New Year, or any time. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can have catastrophic consequences with members of the Gardaí, Fire, and Ambulance services, and Local Authority staff all having to deal with the horrific aftermaths of such collisions. We would appeal to all road users not to take risks and to make safer choices. Wear your seatbelt, watch out for vulnerable road users, and never walk on the road when intoxicated. Don’t let your actions spoil a good night out and bring tragedy to your family or others this Christmas.”
The Gift of a Lift card is available from any County Westmeath library branch (subject to availability) and can be downloaded from the Road Safety section of the Westmeath County Council Website -https://www.westmeathcoco.ie/en/ourservices/roadsparkingandtransport/roadsafety/
Content Last Updated/Reviewed: 22/12/2023