Unbelieveable pile up in fog…

Yesterday’s pile on the M9 doesn’t seem to have sunk into some drivers. Yesterday’s crash resulted in nearly 100 vehicles piling into one another in various incidents between Kildare and Naas and this morning comes the sad news that one woman died shortly after falling into a coma. One taxi driver told me this morning that one his way into work this morning the fog was just as thick, and people were traveling past him at a good 50 mph. Is it cultural recklessness on the roads (five people killed in four different incidents in Donegal makes grim reading in the Donegal Democrat this morning)? Or could the south learn from the more intricate signing and technology we have in Northern Ireland?

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  • Yes, well the driving down here is fairly awful, and I don’t really know why. The idea of not using your car as a weapon against pedestrians does not seem to have sunk into the minds of many drivers.

    I don’t think that there is anyway forward while the government don’t care. When crossing the road here at many traffic lights you have to dodge the cars – as the lights often don’t have a pedestrian crossing time – it seems a bit mad.

    By the way heard you this morning on Newstalk and that’s how I heard of your blog.

  • IJP

    It’s a bit of both, Mick.

    First, there is the very obvious problem that there are still thousands of drivers on the road who have never passed a test. It simply defies belief.

    Second, there is a reality that motorways are a recent phenomenon in Ireland. While vastly safer than all other types of road despite higher speeds, they do require a different skill set – and experience, bluntly, is the best way to learn.

    Thirdly, I think there is indeed a culture of recklessness (perhaps a better word would be “carelessness”). This is less to do with North versus South than it is to do with Urban versus Rural, though. Fatality rates in Fermanagh (around 10 a year in a county of under 60,000; cf. 125-140 in the whole of NI) compare unfavourably, for example, with those for the counties around Dublin. Partly it is to do with the structures of rural roads, but I fear there is a cultural carelessness in there too.

    On your other point, yes, signage, gantries, markings and electronic warning boards are of a higher standard in the UK generally than in the Republic. This is also linked to this “cultural carelessness”, which even creeps in North of the border too (basic stupidity like forgetting to put road numbers on signs may appear minor, but it’s indicative of a general lack of attention to detail which can cost lives).

    To be honest, there’s nothing Government can do to stop such incidents ever occurring. But a mix of better driver education, more care, and better signage/structures would help. That doesn’t just apply to the Republic of Ireland, of course.

  • wild turkey

    ijp

    a culture of recklessness or carelessness…perhaps

    maybe just a culture of downright stupidity and viciousness

    consider this. I have lived on this island for nearly 30 years. have driven coast to coast in the USA, quite a bit around europe, and also occassionally in S america, africa and asia but…

    it was only on this island and the old dundalk dublin road (pre-motorway admitedly) in particular that when going to overtake some clunker doing 47 miles per hour the asshole actually speeds up so as to try and stop you from getting back in the correct lane. what the fuck is that about?

    before the PC brigade goes apeshit, am just drawing on my experiences, i am sure there are many considerate and skillful irish drivers but there is also a road culture of ‘who gives a fuck’

  • BogExile

    Fatality rates in Fermanagh (around 10 a year in a county of under 60,000.

    As an occasional visitor on four wheels hailing from Fermanagh, I’ll vouch for that!

    There is a palpable lack of discpiline, care and attention which is immediately (and often literally) striking in NI.

    Motorists don’t seem to be any more agressive here as opposed to GB, just dumber, to be honest.

    I’m sure it’s a function of a terrorist campaign which meant for 30 years there was an absence of roads policing and enforcement around the border in particular as the IRA liked to murder traffic policemen for a passtime.

  • páid

    I drive a fair bit all over Ireland and standards of roads, markings and signs are IMO opinion better up North, save for the brand new stuff down South.
    As for the drivers, well.. in the North they seems to be less of a hurry than the South, less traffic congestion may play a role here.
    Am I alone in thinking there seems to be more souped-up boy racer types in Border counties?

  • Am I alone in thinking there seems to be more souped-up boy racer types in Border counties?

    No, it’s a problem that many areas are currently tackling.

  • Munsterman

    Tail-gaiting is a major part of this too. Most drivers in the Republic have the idea that the CLOSER you are to the car in front, the better……

  • Conor

    A couple of observations:

    I agree with the key points made above in relation to the large number of unlicenced (i.e. provisional) drivers and the relative lack of savvy when it comes to motorway driving – most down here have not yet ‘got it’ that the left lane is the driving lane and the right lane is the overtaking lane. It is frightening when you frequently see the situation flipping with a congested overtaking lane leading to frustrated motorists undertaking.

    I drive the Dublin-Dundalk M1 frequently and my anecdotal observation would be that the majority of those breaking the 120km speed limit are “yellow-backs” (drivers from Northern Ireland and Britain). This is, I feel, due to the lack of enforcement of penalty points for those motorists when out of their jurisdiction. Maybe the ROI drivers behave similarly when in NI, and that is where the perception in the previous comments comes from.

    PS – listening to the Newstalk breakfast show this morning discussing the pile-up, the presenters said that some drivers were not using headlights or foglights. Apparently, a listener texted in to say that this was because many Irish cars are not equipped with fog lights! Every car must obviously have fog lights, meaning they haven’t a clue what fog lights are, or where the switch is. Maybe the provisional drivers have taken over from the provisional army as the most dangerous group of people in Ireland!

  • IJP

    Conor

    Agree with everything you say, but…

    the majority of those breaking the 120km speed limit

    … this just isn’t the problem!

    It is far, far more dangerous to drive 80 kmh on most rural roads on the island (which is legal) than it is to drive 160 kmh on your average motorway. We have to get away from this idea that speed itself is the problem – the problem is inappropriate speed given the conditions.

    If you are suggesting Gardaí do not monitor motorways, I am suggesting they are generally right not to – motorway casualties in normal weather conditions are exceedingly rare.

    The dangerous roads are the country lanes where even staying within the limit on a clear day can be dangerous on occasions. Of course, in fog, all roads become dangerous.

    (By they way I noted one caller to 2FM complaining about articulated lorries’ speed as they were passing him this morning while he was waiting for someone on the hard shoulder. The caller clearly was not aware that you do not stop on the hard shoulder and remain in the vehicle – nearly a quarter of motorway fatalities occur on the hard shoulder! What he was doing was just as dangerous as the lorries he was complaining about!!!)

  • Conor

    Totally agree about the appropriateness of speed for the conditions being important. It was more of a compliance point I was making about the risk/reward choices of north/south drivers once out of their own jurisdiction.

    In relation to your 2FM point, I have also seen people REVERSING along hard shoulders on Irish motorways in order to go back and take the exit they narrowly missed. But, I suppose it was alright because they had their hazard warning lights on at the time. This, as we all know, provides general absolution from being a motoring arsehole, no matter how dangerous or dolt-brained the manoeuvre.

  • Mick Fealty

    Chris,

    What’s being done to tackle them?

    Mick

  • Aaron McDaid

    Conor,
    “They haven’t a clue what fog lights are, or where the switch is. ”

    Very likely true. As far as I know every car has fog lights on the back, and I’ve sometimes had to turn them on for friends who didn’t know/care. There are some cars with something like foglights on the front of their car and the odd driver who leaves them on all the time. They don’t understand that foglights don’t make it easier for the driver to see, but instead simply make it easier for others to see you.

    When there is no fog, the foglights merely dazzle everybody and make driving no easier for anybody. Therefore they are pure dangerous. (Assuming I haven’t made a mistake) the police could easily educate a few drivers about this.

    I think if the police could stamp down on all the recklessness, everything from tailgating to non-indicating for example, then the roads would be much safer. We might be able to scare people to look at the Rules of the Road again.

    To be honest, I’m not perfect myself, and would be better if there was more likelihood of being picked up for all the “little” things. Lots of friendly off-the-record chats from police about failure to indicate and tailgating et cetera would generally make people aware that they need to refresh themselves every now and then, even if only to reread the rules of the road once every few years or something.

  • Kinky

    As a resident of the North West of Northern Ireland we are plagued by Donegal drivers. I have personally witnessed them: Reversing onto roundabouts, driving the wrong way round roundabouts, driving through pelican crossings, changing lanes while stopped at a junction etc etc etc. The list goes on. The standard of the southern driver borders on ridiculous. The fact you can drive unaccompanied while untested is nothing but disgraceful.Any person who has recently sat a driving test in the north will tell you its no cake walk.

    Add to the poor standard of driving what have to be be the worst roads in Europe, and you have a recipe for disaster. Or more pertinently, 5 deaths in one weekend in Donegal alone, never mind the recent pile up.

    Until the Southern government takes responsibility for educating drivers and setting proper standards, expect more of the same. As for blaming “Yellow backs” I don’t see how a more educated and competent driver can make things worse.

  • esmereldavillalobos

    Guys, we’ve been here this time last year haven’t we? I’m glad to see tailgating gets some going as much as me.

    Oh, quite apart from people not knowing where the ‘on’ switch for their foglights is, it might be worthwhile knowing where the ‘off’ switch is too so that I’m not blinded on a clear night by some numbnuts with a fear of the dark behind them :p

  • Fraggle

    Klinky, you may have a point but the 5 Donegal deaths don’t back it up.

    One was a hit and run.
    One was a farmer on a tractor going off the road.
    Two were from the north (derry).
    The other crash fits your stereotype with a young donegal driver involved.

    The thing that most annoys me about fog is that i will be driving behind idiots who still have their fog light on in two weeks time, dazzling me.

  • BogExile

    ‘Chris,

    What’s being done to tackle them?’

    In the areas CG refers to I imagine they are being retrained as fuel smugglers. 🙂

  • Aquifer

    Reason for pileups could be people trying to get to work on time despite the conditions. The collapse of town planning in the Republic has strewn houses everywhere but next a railway station, and the bus services barely exist in many areas.

    Motorways should be safer, but double the speed and the kinetic energy that causes damage goes up four times, then throw in the fog. People don’t see so there is no stopping distance before they hit the next guy.

  • BeardyBoy

    The ten year licence here is a great opportunity – everyone should be made to resit a test before getting it renewed, none of us are the same ten years down the line and things change. We would have to keep ourselves up to speed (sorry) on the rules of the road and it would help. I know a man who drives and literally cannot see the other side of the road. he is just dangerous and he got his licence pre test.

  • IJP

    Conor

    I see. Yes, point well made.

    Mind, I’m afraid I have to blame the Republic largely for the mutual penalty point mess too.

    Legally it is very difficult to do (it is surprisingly awkward in any justice system to penalize people in one jurisdiction for an offence committed in another), but if they had brought in precisely the same system (i.e. 3 points not 4 for most offences etc) as that in use in NI and GB, it would have been significantly easier to apply.