Road Safety: How to Protect Vulnerable Road Users

Road safety is not just a term; it's a responsibility shared by everyone using the roads. As the number of vehicles has exponentially increased over the years, so has the risk for those deemed as vulnerable road users. But who are these vulnerable road users, and why is it paramount to understand how to protect them? This guide seeks to enlighten readers on the importance of this matter and how you can do your bit.

Vulnerable road users are those who are exposed to greater risk when navigating our roads. These include pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, e-scooters (a relatively new element) and especially children, who may lack the protective shell a car provides. And if the worst were to happen, check out these tips for what to do if you’re involved in a road accident.

Road Accident Statistics Ireland

Road traffic crashes involving vulnerable road users have historically been a concern in Ireland and across the globe. The Road Safety Authorities’ (RSA) latest fatality report from 2023 (1st of Jan – 26th July) shows unfortunately that fatalities are the highest they’ve been in the past 6 years, with a quarter of fatalities occurring in the 16 – 25 year old age range. Of the 95 fatalities so far in 2023, 39 were drivers, 18 were passengers, 22 were pedestrians, 13 were motorcyclists, 2 were cyclists and 1 was an e-scooter user.

Drivers still represent the highest risk group, representing 41% (39) of fatalities, but worryingly there is an increasing trend of fatalities among passengers, motorcyclists and pedestrians. Pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists together also constituted a significant percentage of serious road injuries. We have previously covered the safest way to drive when driving beside cyclists.

Children aged 0-14 are particularly vulnerable, with many incidents occurring during school commute times. Intersections and crosswalks are frequent spots for accidents involving these road users.

The Best Ways to Protect Vulnerable Road Users

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

One of the first road safety rules everyone should be familiar with is the significance of environmental awareness. This doesn't mean just keeping an eye on the road ahead but being aware of:

  • Sidewalks and pavements, especially if children or pedestrians are nearby.
  • Bike lanes where cyclists might be present.
  • Checking blind spots regularly for motorcyclists or cyclists.

Giving this extra care ensures that you can anticipate potential hazards and react in time to avoid collisions.

Giving Vulnerable Road Users the Right of Way

Even if you're in a hurry, it's essential to respect the vulnerable road users' right to use the road. This means:

  • Stopping completely at pedestrian crossings and allowing people to cross.
  • Respecting bike lanes and not obstructing cyclists.
  • Giving way to motorcyclists where necessary.

Remember, it's not just about obeying the stop sign and traffic lights; it's about valuing every road user's safety.

Driving at a Safe Speed

Speed limit signs are not just suggestions; they are there to protect all road users. Staying within the speed limit, especially in areas populated by pedestrians or children, ensures you have an adequate stopping distance. This means fewer chances of accidents and the ability to completely stop if an unforeseen hazard appears.

Being Patient

In the rush of daily life, patience can often be forgotten. Yet, when it comes to road user safety, patience can save lives. This involves:

  • Waiting for a cyclist to navigate a challenging intersection.
  • Not beeping aggressively at pedestrians crossing at a slower pace.
  • Giving way to a horse rider navigating the side of the road.

Using Your Horn and Lights Judiciously

Your car's horn and lights are essential communication tools. They should be used wisely:

  • Only beep to alert someone of your presence, not out of frustration.
  • Use your lights to signal changes in direction or to warn of your presence in low-visibility conditions.
  • Avoid high-beams which can blind other road users and make them vulnerable.

Additional Tips for Protecting Vulnerable Road Users:

  • Cell Phone: Refrain from using a cell phone while driving. Even a momentary distraction can be deadly, especially for vulnerable road users. And it goes without saying to always avoid texting while driving.

  • Seat Belt: Always wear your seat belt and ensure all passengers do the same. It might not directly protect a pedestrian, but ensuring you're secure can prevent erratic movements that might lead to accidents.

  • Stay Alert: Whether it's avoiding alcohol, ensuring you're well-rested, or just being mentally present while driving, staying alert is your primary tool to ensure everyone stays safe on the road. This can be even more difficult on longer journeys, so we’ve provided these tips on how to avoid fatigue while driving long distances.


Understanding what road safety is and implementing it in our daily commutes is a shared responsibility. As drivers, we have the power and the responsibility to make our roads safer for everyone. It’s definitely worth brushing up on your rules of the road, which you would have previously done when preparing for your driver theory test. By adhering to these road safety rules and the additional tips provided, we can make a significant difference in protecting our community's most vulnerable road users.

Remember, safety doesn't happen by accident. Drive responsibly.

By opting for comprehensive car insurance, you can experience peace of mind, knowing that you're sufficiently protected against any unforeseen incidents. This includes damages or injuries caused to other vehicles or individuals in accidents for which you are responsible. Explore our car insurance page to discover the coverage options available.

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