The slaughter on our roads continues

I posted a thread at the weekend after learning of the deaths of four Polish men in county Cork and three young men in east Belfast. Since then, every news bulletin seems to bring more news of fatalities on the roads, the latest being two men killed in Newtownabbey this afternoon. Harry Green of the DOE has highlighted how 50% of fatalities this year have occurred at weekends or holiday periods. It seems to me that if our political leaders can agree on little else at this moment, then they should at least agree that some radical strategy needs to be launched to seriously challenge our attitudes to driving.

  • missfitz

    I drove to Belfast yesterday on 2 separate occasions. On the second occasion, I was stuck behind a car travelling at 15 miles an hour from Rathfriland to Banbridge. A journey that should take 25 mins average, took almost 50 minutes, as they not only drove slowly, they came to a dead stop every time a car approached.

    I was desperarately pissed off and so full of rage it was overwhelming. I missed my venue in Belfast as a result and could not get over the bad manners and ignorance of the man in the cap.

    Speed is bad, slow can be worse.

    It needs a full education campaign, and perhaps mandatory re-testing every 5-10 years

  • Joe

    Try getting your horn fixed?

  • slug

    A lot of it seems to be young people driving too fast. I would think that more speed cameras would help.

  • missfitz

    Ah jaysus Joe, I beeped and flashed and smiled…. I even phoned the peelers in Banbridge as there were about 25 cars behind in the end. We had cars from the back trying to overtake, and all sorts of road rage going on.

  • Joe

    That’s one of the main causes of accidents here in Canada. The young folks aren’t necessarily speeding; just overestimating their capabilities given the conditions. The rural roads here are straight for mile after mile and the accidents mainly occur at bends. Going too fast, can’t make the turn and hit a tree or utility pole at the other side of the road.
    Then there are the drunks of course.

  • “I would think that more speed cameras would help.”

    For the love of Christ, the last thing we need is more f**king speed cameras.

  • Joe

    Well, there’s one speeder identified without using a camera!

  • IJP

    Thanks again Chris for bringing this up.

    But your appeal for our ‘political leaders’ to do something about it will go unanswered, for the simple fact we don’t have any political leaders.

    We have political followers.

    You could put them all in a room and I’ll tell you what they would come up with: an appeal for the Government ‘to invest more resources in tackling road deaths’. But you’ll never get a coherent view of what should actually be done, and who should do it.


    I can imagine the frustration, but sorry, it is simply wrong to suggest slow is as bad as fast. Doddery old Sunday drivers cause occasional mayhem, even the odd accident, but show me the last time they caused a fatal accident?

    Fatal accidents are almost always the result of inappropriate high speed, let’s not pretend otherwise – frustrating and all though it is!

  • missfitz

    Its a little late now, but actually there is evidence I came across somewhere that proves the opposite to what you say. I will try and look it up tomorrow.

    Slow drivers arent a nuisance, they really pose a danger. In the States, there is a minimum speed that is as rigorously enforced as the maximum for that reason.

  • Joe

    Here is a section from the motor vehicle act of British Columbia, Canada.
    145 (1) A person must not drive a motor vehicle at so slow a speed as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic, except when reduced speed is necessary for safe operation or in compliance with law.

    (2) If the driver of a motor vehicle is driving at so slow a speed as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic, a peace officer may require the driver to increase his or her speed, or to remove the motor vehicle from the roadway to the nearest suitable place and to refrain from causing or allowing the motor vehicle to move from that place until directed to do so by a peace officer.

  • Joe

    The reasoning behind the slow driving offence is that “reasonable” drivers will eventualy try to overtake which can sometimes result in accidents.
    When I first came to Canada in the early 80s, I developed a friendship with a couple from Greece. The husband learned to drive in Toronto. He was a very nervous driver. The first time he did his test, he failed.. Stated reason on the examiner’s form : Driving too slow. He did the test driving at 40km/h in a 50 km/h zone.

  • missfitz

    Bless you Joe, that saves me from looking it up. I think my American/Canadian experiences have influenced my intolerance for slow drivers.

    I drove here for many years without getting a UK license, until one day the police very nicely told me they felt that 7 years was probably too long to be considered a holiday any more.

    I went and took the test, and to my utter horror, I failed. I hadnt a notion how to go around roundabouts, or what new signs meant or lots of things. I went and had some lessons, retook it and got it.

    Interestingly, I took up motorbikes a few years ago and had to take the test once again. I was amazed at how much I had to learn once again. And no, I am not particularly stupid….

    I strongly think that no one particular group should be singled out and that we should all retake our tests at intervals. It would keep us all sharp and remind us not to take the car or the roads for granted.

  • missfitz

    I didnt fully appreciate your point about fatalities and slow driving, and I have no doubt you are correct. However, I think if you put your point together with Joe’s, we may get close to the truth.

    Slow driving can lead to reckless overtaking and THAT can cause a fatality.


    Bad as it is driving in Northern Ireland, it’s nothing compared to driving here in France.
    People park on corners as a matter of course, speed limits don’t exist and the traffic lights are placed at a height where a pedestrian standing on the pavement will block them from view.

    Things I would do to try and curb road deaths.

    First thing is that I would pass a law stating that no male be allowed to drive until he has reached the age of twenty five.
    Everytime a person was convicted of speeding, their license would be removed and they would have to redo the test.
    Everyone would have to do a refresher course in safe driving every ten years, and have to pass at a good grade or have their license removed until they were competent.
    Pedestrians and bicycles would have right of way at all times, and it would be up to the driver of a vehicle to ensure that this was adhered to.
    ( when I lived in Germany I could use the roads on my bicycle and feel safe, because even articulated lorries would stop to let me pass.In Northern Ireland cars deliberately try to run you off the road).
    And finally.
    The safest thing you could do for road safety is invest in public transport so that less people used private vehicles.

  • The Devil

    Another pile of bollox from people who know very little about road management.

    We have thr poorest road managers in western europe, jobs for the boys for years, boys who were not capable of the position they held.

    Only one way to fix it SACK EVERYONE IN DOE management or finance

    straighten the roads, stop schools and churchs from building near roads, close the ones already built.

    remove all speed cameras, remove all ramps

    jail dangerous drivers not superior ones

    chip all cars to ensure they are not speeding on twisted roads or through built up areas

    increase buses and bus routes

    over cautious drivers to have the licence removed for life

  • fartrick


  • jim

    In the republic they publish the death toll in each county on road signs.

    Also leaving the wreakage on the roadside for a number of weeks will bring the message home.

  • missfitz

    You may be playing to an audience, but I dont appreciate my opinion being called bollix. Thats rude and certainly playing ball not man.

    I think they stopped putting wreckage on the roads as people were slowing down to view it and causing quite a lot of disruption by doing so.

    I have little to say about women drivers, some of them can be dreadful. On the other hand, most are good drivers, unlike young boy drivers, old men in caps and arrogant middle aged men who think noone else can drive

  • J McConnell

    Having driven several hundred thousand miles in the US, and quite a few thousand of miles in France, Ireland, Canada, Italy and the UK might I make an observation. Maybe the accident rate has something to do with the fact that at least 25% of the drivers on the road in the ROI have never passed any kind of driven test. This number does not include the tens of thousands who were given a driving license without passing a test back in the 80’s.

    Based on what I see on the roads of Ireland less than half of the drivers would pass even the most basic driving test.

    What is the current wait for a driving test? Several years? And why? Utterly supine ministers unwilling to take on the civil service unions.

  • willis

    It’s all the fault of the unions!!

    Can Godwin’s Law be far away?

  • Occasional Commenter

    “50% of fatalities this year have occurred at weekends or holiday periods”

    I don’t care for this useless statistic until somebody tells me what percentage of miles are driven at weekends or holidays. Remember that people will often drive many hundreds of miles at holidays and weekends to visit family where their work commute is only 10 miles. I myself never drive to work but still manage 15000 miles a year at weekends and holidays.

    If somebody could find out that answer to this we might discover that weekend/holiday drivers are actually the safest.

    There’s lies, damn lies, and idiot public figures/servants who abuse statistics.

  • Occasional Commenter

    TAFKABO: “law stating that no male be allowed to drive until he has reached the age of twenty five.”

    They’ll still be inexperienced when they do start. If anything, at 25 they might be able to afford a faster car. Maybe we want males to start driving ASAP so they’re more likely to get their experience in a slow car?

  • Declan Walsh

    The roads are the problem, and with the best will, a sack -load of money or punitive and education schemes, they cannot be the only solution.
    If there was an adaequate rail system in NIreland and a BART around Belfast, we could start to move cars off the roads.

    How many people have died this year on our rails?

  • Droch_Bhuachaill

    I’m a young male driver, and i think we seriously need to do something to stop 2/3 people dying on this island’s roads EVERY DAY.

    Seeing as most fatal accidents occur at night, maybe nightime driving should require a kind of permit.

    Spped Limiters on all cars? Nobody needs a car that can do 120mph.

    Proper testing. Most accidents don’t occur in towns/cities, so why have the test in urban areas?

  • Occasional Commenter

    Droch_Bhuachaill’s point is interesting. Drivers are taught and tested in urban areas at 30 mph (with some sections up to 45mph perhaps) in urban areas, but then are expecting to be able to drive safely at night in rural areas at 60mph.

    I’m sure I’m not the only one who has forgot to turn the lights on, or even made the mistake of only turning on the sidelights! This should be taught and tested – how to be sure that you have the correct light setting.

    There are many things that aren’t tested in any way. Some of them would be impractical, but they should be put in the theory test in some form.

  • IJP


    I’m not having a go at you personally (not least because I don’t think you’re disagreeing with me!), but again we must caution against this dangerous claptrap that ‘speed doesn’t kill’.

    The oft-quoted reference is that ‘in the vast majority of road fatality cases, speed is not quoted as the cause’.

    Wrong! Very wrong!

    In the vast majority of road fatality cases, careless driving (or similar) is quoted as the ‘primary cause’ – and speed is quoted as the ‘secondary cause’.

    So speed is quoted as a cause, and not only is it quoted as such, but it almost always contributes to the ‘careless driving’ (i.e. the primary cause) in the first place.

    (Inappropriate high) speed does kill – let no one try to tell you otherwise.

  • IJP

    Speed limiters would be of almost zero use.

    First of all, it is legal (and basically safe) to go much faster than 80mph on many European highways (and where this is so, they are constructed for the purpose).

    But much more to the point, the real danger is those going at 50-70mph on rural roads – where a speed limiter would make no difference.

    Speed in itself is not the problem, inappropriate high speed for the road is the problem. And, in particular, young people simply do not have experience of dealing with slippery bends, meeting cyclists as they fly round a curve, or coming into a single-phase temporary light over a narrow bridge… and they’ll get away with in 95% of the time…

  • IJP

    Finally, Declan makes an interesting point, although it’s actually highly questionable whether: a) people would really be shifted out of their cars; and b) shifting them would make the roads any safer. As they’d be less congested, it might make them more dangerous (seriously).

    The UK actually has Europe’s safest roads – but it’s not exactly renowned for its superb rail system. London – with its clogged-up roads – has the best record, the Scottish Highlands – a rural free-for-all – the worst.

    What you want to maximize is the amount of traffic circulating on motorways or dual carriageways with barriers – that’s the big gap in terms of safety.

  • Stephen Copeland

    I drive in several European countries during the course of an average year (including Ireland, the UK, and a few continental countries) and it seems to me that the factors regarding road safety are similar in all, but the outcome is different in many:

    (1) Human nature seems similar in most countries. I doubt if people in one country have a greater death wish than those in another country. Young men (often in baseball caps) drive in a similar fashion in most places, except where …

    (2) … opportunity is different. If they really feel that they will be caught and penalised, then they will slow down. But in the south (and parts of the north) they appear not to think that this will happen. The sheer visibility of cops in England and Spain (on motorways at least) has the desired effect, whereas in France they are less visible.

    (3) Age structures surely play a part. We all mature, get wiser, and get more experience as we age. The proportion of young drivers as opposed to middle-aged must have an effect on the stats. In Ireland (north and south) the proportion of the young is higher than in England, and hence there are probably more high-risk drivers.

    (4) Southern government inaction in the face of unlicenced drivers is simply a scandal. They should not be on the road, full stop. If there is an outcry because of the waiting lists for tests, then let the government respond to that by increasing testing, not by releasing death-drivers into the wild.

    (5) Given the high rate of non-national deaths on the road, there might be a good case for drivers coming from coutries which drive on the right, and who intend to stay in the country for more than a short time, to take a mini-test or a short training course. I am convinced that many simply forget, especially at night or if they are tired, that they are on the wrong side.

  • Occasional Commenter

    You tell us that careless driving followed by speed are the causes of most accidents. That makes me think of people who go around sharp bends, lose control due to the speed and then die. But those people would probably still be dead if they were going at the speed limit (60mph say) instead of, say, 65 or 70 mph.

    There is no research that I’m aware of that can estimate what percentage of accidents would have been prevented if everyone drove within the speed limit. I suspect a very small number of accidents would turn out any different.

    Those that complain about speed need to be more clear that they are not talking about speed limits or enforcement thereof as they are almost irrelevant.

    I’ve yet to hear a practical suggestion that will get people to drive at a suitably slow speed on some of the twistier roads. Do we want specific speed limits on each twist across the land?

    And if careless driving is the primary cause, then we should remove them from the road before they get a chance to drive too fast. They can be spotted by their tailgating, failure to use indicators and so on.

  • missfitz

    Thanks for excluding me from your comments, and I just want to endorse what you are saying about careless driving coupled with speed.

    I started my earlier comments talking about slow drivers, and will come back to that. It’s less about speed and slowness as it is about care on the road and adherence to driving standards.

    Again, there is no substitute for repeat driving tests every 10 years, along with vigilance about drink driving.

    This thread actually opened with the news about 4 foreign nationals who died in Cork, a point Stephen alludes to above. Cars are lethal weapons, and the minute we forget it, we leave ourselves and those around us open to mayhem

  • missfitz

    Subject: FW: A guide to driving in Ireland…

    1. Indicators will give away your next move. A confident Irish driver
    avoids using them.

    2. Under no circumstance should you maintain a safe distance between you
    and the car in front of you, because somebody else will fill in the
    space, putting you in an even more dangerous situation.

    3. The faster you drive through a red light, the less chance you have of
    getting hit.

    4. Never get in the way of an older car that needs extensive bodywork,
    especially with WW, MO or MH plates. With no insurance, the other
    operator probably has nothing to lose.

    5. Braking is to be done as hard and late as possible to
    ensure that your ABS kicks in, giving a vigorous, foot massage as the
    brake pedal violently pulsates. For those of you without ABS, it’s a
    chance to strengthen your leg muscles.

    6. Never pass on the right when you can pass on the left. It’s a good
    way to prepare other drivers entering the motorway.

    7. Speed limits are arbitrary figures, given only as a suggestion and
    are not enforceable in Ireland during rush hour.

    8. Always brake and rubberneck when you see an accident or
    even someone changing a tyre. This is seen as a sign of
    respect for the victim.

    9. Learn to swerve abruptly without signalling. Ireland is the home of
    high-speed slalom driving thanks to the Department of Public Works,
    which puts potholes in key locations to test drivers’ reflexes and keep
    them alert!

    10. It is tradition in Ireland to honk your horn at cars in front of you
    that do not move three milliseconds after the light turns green.

    11. To avoid injury in the event of a collision or rollover,
    it is important to exit your vehicle through the windscreen right away.
    Wearing your seat belt will only impede your hi-velocity escape from

    12. Remember that the goal of every Irish driver is to get ahead of the
    pack by whatever means necessary.

    13. WARNING! Never come to a complete stop at a stop sign. No one
    expects it and it will result in you being rear-ended