Road carnage continues

It’s the beginning of another holiday period in Ireland, and already tragedy has been visited upon many families as a result of road fatalities. RTE are reporting that eight people died in three crashes overnight in Cork, Belfast and Meath.

The EU has highlighted the continuing failure of successive Irish governments to effectively address the issue, and in an attempt to shore up public confidence in their ability to do so, the Irish government recently appointed veteran broadcaster Gay Byrne to chair the Road Safety Authority after his predecessor, Eddie Shaw, had resigned in protest at government inactivity over the issue.

  • Crataegus

    Was over in Chester recently and to my surprise rail passenger numbers are up a staggering 300 percent in the last 5 years on many of the lines. More trains, more passengers, more frequent etc. Perhaps we need to invest more in rail a lot safer than the car.

  • esmereldavillalobos

    I am afraid the point has been missed here. I am an Emergency Department doctor and for once the police are correct – too much speed, not enough skill and I mop up the results. The internal combustion engine is here to stay and therefore while Europeans do not have the obsession with the car that the USA has, the people in these isles drive too fast without regard for other people, simple as that. Tailgating is my particular bete noir, albeit that appears to be a peculiary English disease – it’s a pleasure driving in OWC without somebody flossing my teeth. Rail is safer than road yes but NIR was destroyed years ago and no amount of investment will bring it back. More road safety education, more traffic police, more speed cameras, more jail time… it’s the only way

  • Occasional Commentator

    esmereldavillalobos,
    I’m glad you brought up tailgating. I think it, and lots of other examples of bad driving (such as failure to use the indicator), should be cracked down upon. It’s not just speed that kills. There should be cameras tracking tailgating and issuing fines for it.

    This would be like a zero tolerance policy. The same incompetent fools who tailgate need to be taken off the road before they even get a chance to speed in a dangerous fashion.

  • Crataegus

    esmereldavillalbos

    “no amount of investment will bring it (rail) back”.

    I disagree that’s what they used to say about a lot of the lines in England. We could certainly increase usage of existing lines, but it won’t get rid of the car, but you are providing transport for people who may not have a car and an alternative to those with. I would use the train to Dublin more if the Enterprise started an hour earlier. Arriving at 9a.m. is too late!

    Agree what you say about standard of driving, I was laid up for 5 months by a stupid girl in a sporty car (insured in dads name) rushing home on a Saturday to go out. Must have been doing 60 (possibly a lot more) in a 30 mph zone and couldn’t stop.

    We all make mistakes but it is the deliberate bad driving that irks me, speeding is generally not needed, travelling 30 miles at 60mph 30 minutes at 90mph 20mins; leave 10minutes earlier or apologise for being late!!

    The other ones that get me are parking any old place rather than using your legs, especially at ATM machines and newsagents. Parking on brows of hills and corners, overtaking when you can’t see what’s coming, sitting at a junction with your bonnet protruding into oncoming traffic, not signalling, poor roundabout skills ooh and trailers with no break lights.

    Not so long ago was coming out of a rural filling station and car approaching, he was going so fast that you could not accurately gauge his speed. It was like watching a mirage approach he must have been doing 120 mph or well over. ( what’s the top speed for a BMW?) So if you ever see any mirages stay put it will pass in a few seconds.

    One final point employers giving their staff impossible schedules.

  • Always blame the fast driver, don’t take time to see that the slow drivers are holding people back and causing frustration to others who then take risks by overtaking and speeding.

    I have often been stuck in a queue of traffic which has been caused by some amadán driving at 20/30 MPH in a 60 zone, (with no need to), and people taking crazy risks to get out of it.

    ALSO the British govt. would need to take a long hard look at the stated of the roads. F**K ME they are in some state in Tyrone and Fermanagh. With the reduction in hospitals in this area and the ‘golden hour’ of travel being brought into existence, the infrastructure needs a total overhaul. The road between Omagh and Enniskillen is like a rollercoaster in parts.

  • esmereldavillalobos

    Raff, I refer you to my earlier post. It is not just speed that is the problem…

  • I agree esmereldavillalobos, but what is being done about it? Nothing! The cops are speeding more time and resources into catching speeders and not nearly enough with drink drivers, careless drivers and those who cause obstructions and dive too slow.

    I would like to see this addressed

  • Paul

    Raff, sounds like special pleading to me. Speed kills, the police should hammer speeding drivers, hammer them, regular offenders should have their cars confiscated, know-all Eddie Irvine wannabees should be put back on R plates after a first offence. We need to get serious on this. Incidently, Raff, check the fatalities this weekend, there will be more, note how many are young idiots, hitting walls and trees or losing control, note the code phrase used by the media, “no other vehicle was involved”. That usually means, “the accident was caused by a macho big-headed boy-racer, who thought he was a great driver but turned out to be crap, pity about his friends in the back.”

  • esmereldavillalobos

    Crataegus, I agree we should do better with what we’ve got but unless you make it convenient and relatively inexpensive you will not drive people out of their cars. Rail travel in NI is not convenient for the majority of the population – I come from Banbridge and unless Translink have dramatically changed the service in the 2 years since I have been in self imposed exile, it is appalling! Certainly no trains anymore. I did a project many years ago at school on the old railways around home and it was tragic how they died. Yes, they were hopelessly inefficient but at least you could use them!

    I remember not so long ago when I did not drive (during my studies) being posted to Kilrea for a few weeks – if you didn’t get out of there by 6pm that was it! No chance of getting to Belfast by public transport, 1 hour away in the car. My point is that public transport, even in Belfast is not convenient for the majority and is so much easier, more comfortable and cheaper to go by car.

    I am now living across the water and despite the complaints of the natives, transport is much more integrated and efficient. If I ever want to go to London, I can be anywhere in Central London within 90 minutes of my home on the Essex/Suffolk border just by using public transport and my feet. I can’t imagine what Belfast is like now given the (long overdue) improvements currently being made to the Westlink – I imagine it’s a nightmare.

    This is all besides the point however – driving safety. Take an advanced driving course – reduce your insurance premiums and be a safer driver. Slow down – if you see what I see (or don’t see as a lot don’t make it to me to be salvaged) on a weekly basis you would, raff. Count to 10 behind that slower driver – he’s not the problem. Roaring past him at 60 is much more likely to cause a serious accident that pottering behind him at 30. Patience is a virtue and might keep you from meeting me (or not) in the future.

  • Joe

    Esmeralda:
    I totally agree with you, speed is not the only thing that kills.
    I live in Ontario canada. On our 400 series of roads (equivalent of UK motorways) the speed limit is 100km/h. The police, however turn a blind eye to people doing up to 120km/h. That is the general speed in the fast lane. These roads are fairly safe. The police, however, pay a lot of attention to people driving dangerously; Tailgating and changing lanes without signalling are the two “biggies”.
    There is a course you can take here (voluntarily) called “Defensive Driving”. I took it 25 years ago shortly after I arrived in Canada (courtesy of my employer who didn’t want highly trained employees incapacitated). It certainly changed my driving and I use the techniques every day.
    I imagine your job must be very distressing.

    Regards, Joe

  • esmereldavillalobos

    See on BBC
    where accident was… attended a fatal crash around there as a very junior medic a few years ago.

  • esmereldavillalobos

    Joe, it’s also very rewarding – swings and roundabouts etc.

  • Joe

    Esmeralda:
    I’m glad you feel that way.
    It must be enormously rewarding to apply your skills to saving a life.
    Best regards, Joe

  • The Devil

    esmeralavilllobos,

    stick to medicine because what you know about traffic management is not worth knowing in the 1st place…
    you make the same sorry and flawed arguments most naive persons do, that do not or cannot comprehend the reasons for traffic accidents.

    Our roads are too slow, this because they are not straight enough and not wide enough, any road manager worth a damn would vest all properties on one side of all main roads into and out of large populated centres, flaten the properties and make the road wider with more lanes.

    Ban all schools from building near main roads

    Ban all schools from having anything other than an on site set-down pick-up area

    Ban all churches from building along main roads

    Ban all sporting and leisure facilities from being within a 75yrd radious of any main road.

    Increase the speed limit to 100mph on motorways and 70mph on dual carriageways.

    Make the driving test more testing including a proper parking and controlled speed handling section.

    Ban all 4×4 for civilian use without exception

    Remove every single ramp in areas that do not have a school or hospital because familiarity breeds contempt, drivers no longer slow for them and have long forgotten why they are there.

    Duelled Zebra crossings to be reduced to singles only, if the pedestrian walked to the crossing they can walk 20 yrds further.

    Slow drivers should be penalised just as dangerous drivers.

    Increase the number of multi-story carparks.

    Increase the number of schedualed buses along main routes

    Ban the black taxis.. they have had their day.

    Chip all new cars to see if they are breaking the speed limit in residential areas.

    A lost licence should be for 3 years with a 5 year jail term for transgressors.

    DO THIS AND WATCH THE NUMBER OF ROAD DEATHS FALL DRAMATICALLY

  • Rory

    I think the point is being somewhat elided here. Surely what is importantis to know is the ratio of Taig to Prod casualties. Isn’t that what this site’s all about?

  • JK

    The Devil,

    You are aware that one of the biggest killers on the road is single vehicle rural road crash. How will your idea that we should flatten everything within a 300m radius of a main urban road dramatically reduce this?

  • The Devil

    jk,

    are you aware that most accidents happen within 150 yrds of a motorway on thursday afternoons between 3.00pm-5.30pm

    we are a rural community… but the chipping of vehicles would improve that particular statistic.

    Rory,
    in bought cars there are more protestants die, in stolen ones more catholics die.

  • Carole

    The Devil:
    You forgot an obvious one – take paradise and turn it into a parking lot.

  • esmereldavillalobos

    Please do not feed the troll…

  • Carole

    winks at (previously gratuitously insulted) esmeralda.

  • Brian Boru

    Part of the problem is the importation of the dreadful road safety of Eastern Europe into Ireland through immigration. They also tend to be of the demographic you would expect to be involved in road accidents agewise. There is also a problem with a drout of Gardai on the roads enforcing the laws though it seems to be growing a little bit from my observations.

    The border also acts as a barrier to effective policing of the problem as speeders and drunk drivers can escape the Gardai/PSNI by crossing the border. I understand that 50% of the foreign-registered cars involved in accidents are UK ones, backing up what I am saying.

  • Kemmel

    I have to agree with esmeralavilllobos

    Common fucking sense is what we need.

  • Occasional Commentator

    I don’t mind the slow drivers, even though I am the sort that will take any (safe) overtaking opportunity. It’s the line of morons who tailgate behind them that annoy me.

    A line of cars bunched up together means that any time there is a nice stretch of road I can’t overtake because I’d have to overtake them all in one go.

    If you’re not going to overtake then sit back and make it easy and safe for those of us who do know how to overtake. If I’m in a queue of cars doing 45mph on a nice straight road, I have nothing to be ashamed of for wanting to overtake them. If I can’t overtake, or perhaps just feel like relaxing, instead I’ll just hang back and make it easy for people behind me to overtake if they wish.

    Speeders and slow drivers and everyone in between could easily and safely go about there business if they accommodate each other.

  • Occasional Commentator

    Another thing I don’t like is the vague statistics bandied about by the UK government when trying to justify speed cameras relating to the percentage of accidents where “speed was a factor”. I’ve tried to get something to back it up, but can’t find any details – does anything have something authoritative and detailed on that statistic.

    “Speed was a factor” could be anything. Obviously, if everyone went at 5mph there’d be fewer accidents. If somebody drives at 50 around a dangerous bend where the speed limit is 60 then obviously speed is a factor, but it’s got nothing to do with the speed limit. And drunk drivers, joy riders, and uninsured/untaxed drivers might well break the speed limit, but speed cameras aren’t going to affect their driving.

    I’m not convinced that speed cameras actually have much affect. In fact, I suspect nobody has done any research, instead relying on so-called “common sense”. I heard that some states in the U.S. say a drop in fatalities after increasing their speed limits, but don’t quote me on that.

  • esmereldavillalobos

    I sincerely hope that your ‘common sense’ bears witness to your driving. I only post from experience.

  • Crataegus

    OC

    I have doubts about many of the speed cameras you get in parts of England but separate issue.

    Surely the basic argument that the faster you go the worse the accident can’t be denied, basic Physics really.

  • Occasional Commentator

    Crataegus,
    Indeed. I’m not so much arguing for scrapping speed cameras, instead I’m just annoyed that it seems to be the only tactic used by authorities today. We should remove the incompetent and ignorant drivers from the road before they even cause an accident, then it doesn’t matter whether it would be a high-speed accident or a slow-speed accident. If the authorities actually knew what they were at and did the proper scientific research, I would support a tougher policy including more cameras.

    I suspect there isn’t the political will to attack the real problems on our roads. The average swing voter in the middle classes probably drives in or around the speed limit but is otherwise a menace. Therefore they probably don’t actually want a serious road safety policy. Any fool can follow a speed limit, but driving to a high standard constantly is probably beyond most people (in terms of their willingness, not competence, [I hope.])

  • esmereldavillalobos
  • Chris D

    Many thanks for highlighting this issue on this forum. It needs to be highlighted on every forum possible.

    There is a lot of rubbish talked about road safety, unfortunately. We are all guilty of condeming others’ driving habits without challenging our own (I guess it’s about like the way we deal with sectarianism!)

    Occasional Commentator makes a crucial point. There were three people killed in the North in one accident on a rural road involving a single young driver – that’s more in one incident than have been killed on all of NI’s motorways in any single year for at least the last eleven years (i.e. since I’ve been driving).

    The problem is inappropriate speed.

    Since election last May I have raised many suggestions for progress on these things, unfortunately the machinations Government are far too slow to react seriously. These include:
    – changing the ‘R’-plate system away from ‘pure speed’ (the 45mph limit) to focus instead on the cc of the car and penalties for dangerous driving;
    – lowering the rural single-carriageway limit from its current (ludicrous) 60mph (the PSNI response here is that people should drive at an appropriate speed within the limit – I say that’s bugger all use to the poor innocent travelling the other way when some maniac hits them on a bend at 56mph);
    – more effective placement of barriers and (after the limit reduction) speed cameras; and
    – more effective education (this is happening, to be fair).

    A few key things that are popularly stated are true by the way: young males are significantly disproportionately responsible for the carnage, as our young/inexperienced drivers generally; inappropriate speed does kill (it is nearly always at least a secondary cause of any fatal collision); and there are things the Government can do it key black spots to make the road structure safer.

    Many thanks again Chris for airing this issue, which is far, far more serious than most of the symbolic rubbish that attracts hundreds of comments on here. If ever there was something we all need to work together on, regardless of identities or borders, this is it.

  • Fintan, Portlaoise

    When I was learning to drive, the most valuable advice I got was “Keep ‘er between the hedges.” That’s what it boils down to: people are driving too fast to manage all the many twists and turns on Irish roads. That accounts for all of the fatal accidents involving only one vehicle. If they drove slower, they would get round the bends and not end up against a wall or tree or in a ditch. They would also have more time to keep out of the way of oncoming traffic. Cars are different today as well. One I had nearly twenty years ago needed the boot to the floor to get up to even near 50, but a modern car is doing a hundred as soon as you lightly touch the accelerator.

    Another good idea might be to pass a law requiring TDs and Ministers to drive only cars of a limited size and to refrain altogether from using helicopters. If Harney had to drive a VW Golf up to Leitrim (to open an off licence for a crony) instead of misappropriating one of the planes that is supposed to be protecting our fisheries, she might persuade her colleagues to get real about tackling the problems of bad infrastructure, poor drivers, drink and haphazard law enforcement that have made Irish roads such a dangerous place to be.

  • esmereldavillalobos

    It appears sadly that the carnage continues – what does that make the total since Friday?