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November 05, 2006

Stupid Driving in Ireland

SAFETY ADVISORY: Foreign guests should plan journeys around Ireland to avoid stupid cars on the road. Head-on collisions happen every month. Driving on the left won't keep you safe. Neither will walking down country lanes at night.

READERS OF Irish blogs know you can find pretty much any perspective on current affairs, including the running scourge of stupid driving in Ireland. Some bloggers acquiesce to the undeserved "respect for the dead" clause that sugarcoats many issues that gain traction in the mainstream media. Let's get something straight: when someone violates the Commons by flinging themselves and their friends at high speed in public spaces, they have driven themselves into the spotlight of public scrutiny. When you're caught for speeding, the police pull you over and deal with you on the roadside. They do not shroud their activity. You are a perp on display. When you crash, the fire brigade doesn't erect a perimeter fence that prevents rubblerneckers from seeing the result. And when you die on a public road, possibly by your own feckless actions, a responsible media does not shirk its moral responsibility to document the case. Others need to learn and live. Only an irresponsible Fourth Estate fails to inform a free-thinking citizenry in the debate that should follow road carnage.

I will never forget the gratuitous Irish national television interviews of grieving relatives on the heels of one summertime crash. The interview focused on fluffy things about the community's grief surrounding the accident and the loss felt by family. When the relatives suggested that the lads died doing what they enjoyed--having a laugh while on a late night adventure on back roads--neither the political hack nor the presenter challenged the attitude of the parents. The interview served to reinforce the "Ah, sure, we're alright" attitude that frequently distorts road safety discussions by removing the issue of social responsibility from the equation.

It is simply anti-social to drive beyond imposed limits, your personal capabilities or the current conditions. It is a breach of civil order to run a motor vehicle at high speed in excess of posted speed or published noise limits. It is criminal to run into someone else or to kill a passenger while you're having a laugh with the lethal weapon under your bum. Since Ireland will never fund the resources needed to create an effective traffic safety corps, Irish citizens must take back their roads by upfront and sometimes personal reactions to stupid driving.

Instead of confronting these important social issues with a courage of conviction, too many Irish commentators roll over and acquiesce to selfish request for respect for the dead. If a dead cousin caused the deaths of another friend of the family, the dead driver's behaviour does not deserve community respect. And if my attitude sounds disrespectful and callous, go find yourself a soft and fluffy commentator who shares your grief.

You won't find soft-and-fluffy Irish road safety getting any traction around these parts.


Sarah Carey -- "Monaghan Car Crash"
Damien Blake -- "Irish Road Carnage"
Twenty Major on road safety.
Flickr has photos of stupid driving in Ireland.

x_ref125pr07 roadsafety

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Comments

Interesting post and I agree. Sarah Carey had a slew of emails which ended up being threatening from someone purporting to be a relative of one of the Monaghan crash victims.

They were unwilling to debate the issue in any way, guilt tripping her, threatening her and eventually she removed a post and a conversation in comments which I had had with this person.

One of the comments removed from this 'grieving relative' said "I hope your brother dies in a car accident this weekend". Charming, eh?

If you don't like something don't read it but trying to enforce censorship on somebody else's blog is totally wrong. I can understand Sarah's reasons for editing/removing but I wish she hadn't done it as what she had written was intelligent and constructive.

I can count on one hand the number of blog entries I have revised in response to irate or upset readers. In five years of blogging, I've enjoyed an occasional harsh email but when balanced against more than 5000 blog posts during the same time span, it seems like a fair offset.

I don't imagine any bereaved cousins are regular readers of my stuff but I can see how they might be regulars in other spaces and perhaps their reading material needs to be fluffy and friendly over there.

Yes, I saw this on Sarah's site. I have not actually read the actual post itself.

Just one or two things, Twenty, I'm not being cycnical, or just a bit, one, what proof was provided that they were related? There's a lot of people who thrive on cyber conflict out there.

Two, on the other hand, grief can also manifest itself as anger, and often that anger has to be displaced somewhere. Unfortunately, Sarah, and yourself were the was the recipients.

How and ever, when will a discussion be allowed on the large number or RTA's in Ireland?

Bernie, agree with every word you've written. Time for real discussion, and taking an honest look at why?

Hi all, Look I agree with much of what's in the post and in fact, my original post was saying almost the same thing - ie. why glorify the driver as the priest did? But I was dealing with a pretty angry and upset woman. Our little blogosphere can't take itself so seriously that we inflict pain. I think her viewpoint was deeply wrong and I don't know why she was reading blogs, but she was, so I wasn't going to be the cause of inflaming the situation. Anyway, people know what I look like and know where I live. I have to take that into account too. Trust me, when we get an official garda report about the cause of the accident I'll be straight back in there.

The overall standard of driving in Ireland is poor.
Currently there are around a third of people driving on our roads who have not passed a driving test, lack of awareness and lack of courtesy to other road users can be seen daily.
Standard of roads - surfaces, maintenance, signposts, bad junctions, blind spots etc., are also poor, not enough is being spent on a consistent basis to address this (except when we're approaching an election - shame on those who abuse the funding in this way.)
We get fluffy high level policy documents from various agencies but very little co-ordinated action. The changeover to speed signs in Km/h has been farcical and totally inappropriate speed limits remain on country lanes.
Fast cars are in plentiful supply, even a 1990 hatchback can be tuned up and converted into a high speed performance vehicle, though of course they have very few of the more recent safety mechanisms.
Enforcement has been inconsistent to date, poorly funded and ad hoc. Hopefully recent news of more investment for the Traffic Corps will improve things, however it is not a panacea and only one measure in the overall scheme of things.
To date, transport policy has been poorly thought out and executed, roads and safety especially so.
This does not excuse the fact that we all have a responsibility to exercise care on the roads and to never risk the lives or wellbeing of others.
In other countries, survey after survey reveal that the main cause of accidents and fatalities on the roads are attributable to driver error, very few are down to mechanical issues.
Finger pointing or hand wringing will not help improve the situation, it is incumbent on ALL to reduce the number of accidents and fatalities on our roads.

Finally, this situation viewed from whatever angle is avoidable, it CAN and MUST be improved. Action is needed from top to bottom, start the debate, discuss the issues, agree what needs to be done, petition, lobby and keep this important topic in the spotlight, there is no better time to get it on the political agenda.

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