Road Deaths in Ireland

Road deaths are a hot topic in Ireland. They’re actually lower, per capita, than rates in other countries, but are given plenty of column inches and headlines here, and have become a government priority as a result.

Here’s the latest headline:

[Gay Byrne, head of the Road Safety Authority] claimed young people were ignoring road safety campaigns and that all he could do was to warn people to reduce speed and not to drink and drive. “I don’t know what else we can do. We have done all the horror ads, but there are obviously a great number of people who don’t look at television, listen to radio, or read newspapers and don’t get the message,” he said.

Ads. Great. Well, one thing that could be done is fixing the unsafe roads, and building decent ones; Irish country roads, while picturesque, are unable to deal with the levels of traffic they’re now facing. It’s time to apply modern safety standards, instead of considering a 2-lane boreen to be adequate.

There’s been a bit of improvement here; the roads from Dublin to Sligo, and from Dublin to Dundalk, for example, are both now fantastic, well-designed roads, and safe as a result. But try to get from Sligo to anywhere that isn’t Dublin, and you’re right back on those boreens again — with maniacs overtaking on blind corners into oncoming traffic and so on.

But here’s the real reason for the post. I have to reserve some special scorn for this idiot:

Hotelier Declan Corbett, who employed both siblings, yesterday called on Mr Byrne to resign following his comments.

“I am after coming down from the Frewen family house and if Gay Byrne or Michael McDowell were after witnessing what I saw he wouldn’t be coming out this morning with this ranting and blaming the young people of Ireland,” he said. […]

“Gay Byrne was given this job and he shouldn’t have been given this job. It’s typical Dublin 4 job-for-the-boys. A job like this should be given to someone in rural Ireland – somebody like Sean Og O’hAilpin that young people look up to.”

Sean Og O’hAilpin, eh? As Paul Moloney noted — that’d be the same Sean Og who ended his Gaelic football career when he overtook a car on a bend, at speed, crashing head-on into oncoming traffic? A great example, indeed.

I think that might be the problem.

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  1. Paddy
    Posted July 12, 2006 at 13:46 | Permalink

    Erm, a pedantic point Justin but Sean Og did not end his GAA career. He is still captaining the Cork senior hurling team. Typical of you D4 types not to know huh ;-)

  2. Posted July 12, 2006 at 14:01 | Permalink

    Paddy– I paid too much attention to the Aussie article, oops. remedied now…

    D4 type indeed! D7 is a pretty long way from D4. In fact, D4 wishes it had our levels of public urination and mad people shouting on the street. We lead in that dept.

  3. Posted July 12, 2006 at 15:11 | Permalink

    That Aussie link is broken. Is this what you’re referring to?

    p.s. clicking the “notify me of comments” checkbox or just scrolling your blog makes firefox 1.0.7 at least spin the CPU Ah the preview page is fine at least :)

  4. Posted July 12, 2006 at 15:32 | Permalink

    Padraig – seriously? this one? . Ah well, if so, here’s the relevant snippet of text:

    Australian-born Irish lives by international rules

    October 28, 2005

    Sean Og O’hAilpin is by definition the archetypal international rules player, writes Michael Gleeson.

    FOUR years ago, Sean Og O’hAilpin was driving from Dublin to Cork, an amateur sportsman battling to get to training after work. He overtook a car on a bend and ran head-on into another. His knee was badly damaged, and as a star of both Gaelic football and hurling, he was told that after his long recovery he could play just one. He chose hurling, and this year was the All-Ireland champion as captain of championship-winning Cork.


  5. Posted July 12, 2006 at 17:16 | Permalink

    His knee was badly damaged, and as a star of both Gaelic football and hurling, he was told that after his long recovery he could play just one. He chose hurling

    That’d be my decision too. “Sean, you’re knee’s blown, but you might just be able to continue with one sport”. “Ah, great! I choose the one where they whack me with sticks!” Genius. Clearly should be working in government.

  6. Posted July 12, 2006 at 22:17 | Permalink

    I drove to Dublin on Monday from Waterford and back on Tuesday and apart from the poor roads which are a problem I noticed that Irish drivers are awfully impatient. It is a similar problem in South Africa where we have 10,000 road deaths a year. People get impatient on single lane roads and attempt to pass in dangerous stretches.

    I sat behind a truck for 45 minutes and didn’t have single safe point to pass. Meanwhile three others passed myself and two cars who were behind me, plus the truck in front. On one occassion the truck had to put on brakes to slow down and let the passing car cut in front to avoid an oncoming car.

    Better roads would help a lot but so would some patience.

  7. Posted July 13, 2006 at 15:25 | Permalink

    Justin I agree that improving our roads will inevitably reduce the number of road fatalities, the approx. 500km of motorway in the country account for only 1% of the fatal collisions that occur.

    However, as Paul Watson said, patience could equally save an awful lot of lives. It think that the condition of motorways doesn’t contribute to their safety as much as the fact they they have an overtaking lane, where the impatient ones (I’m not saying that all those who overtake are impatient.) can fly by without endangering themselves or others as they might do on a national primary or secondary road.

  8. Posted July 13, 2006 at 15:39 | Permalink

    hi John — great site btw!

    I agree that patience would have a good effect, alright, but there’s a point where human nature defeats that approach — and a road design that takes that into account would save lives. (In other words, I agree with you; it’s not so much the condition of the roads, as their design, that makes them safe.)

    For what it’s worth, I lived and drove in southern California for 3 years until recently; I saw a stunning amount of stupid behaviour on the roads over there. However, this stupid behaviour wasn’t as dangerous as it would be in Ireland, because the roads and freeways are designed to take stupid drivers, and massive traffic volumes, into account.

    My point is: single-lane roads, combined with impatient and reckless drivers, are the problem — and focusing entirely on the drivers means that the underequipped and unsafe nature of our roads escapes scrutiny.

  9. Posted July 27, 2006 at 23:18 | Permalink

    To be fair there have been huge improvements on the roads in the past few years – I’m thinking mainly of Cork to Dublin which had some very dangerous spots but is ten times better than it was five years ago. I think the improvements on the roads is one of the best things this government has done… but we have so many miles of country roads in this country that there will always be dangerous roads, and here is where the standard of driving must improve (there needs to be steeper penalties for dangerous driving and better education for drivers).

    While statistically we might be better than some other European countries, that does not give us the right to pat each other on the back while there are still unnecessary deaths. You are right to highlight the bad state roads, and the media is right to continually highlight the road deaths. But I think the people who called for Gay Byrne’s resignation are being unfair.

  10. Posted July 27, 2006 at 23:20 | Permalink

    And to be pedantic in return, Paddy, the post says that the accident ended Sean Og’s Gaelic football career, which is correct. He was a dual star before the accident, but focused only on hurling afterwards and thus no longer made a career out of playing Gaelic football.

  11. biggles007
    Posted August 16, 2006 at 21:45 | Permalink

    First, all drivers under 25 should be allowed to drive a car of 999 cc max. Second, Alcohol won’t kill you on the road. The speed of the vehical will.

    All penalties are too small.

    Money doesn’t matter as a fine, people have too much.

    The youth of today have too much money, too much to eat and watch too much trash T.V..

    There’s much more but i’ll stop for now.

  12. redbeetle4403
    Posted November 23, 2006 at 15:40 | Permalink

    Some interesting points brought up by all. I’m 25, male, and statistically I should be dead.

    Nobody seems to have mentioned in all these times about the licensing fracas that ensued during the backlogs a number of decades ago.

    My father, uncle and two of my aunties received licenses to drive any type of vehicle without EVER sitting a test.

    Now forgive me, but when you combine the above with increasing traffic, increasing magnitude and complication of road design (3/4 lane roundabouts with traffic lights etc), and older peoples natural deterioration of their sight, reflexes etc….what does the government expect?!

    No retesting for those put off the road for dangerous driving? No compulsory testing every 10 years minimum? No teaching or testing of non-everyday situations like different surfaces, night driving etc.

    Don’t get me started on public transport. There is NON outside of dublin.

    Therefore OF COURSE it will be the 25 & under male that dies most in the early hours of the morning. Who else is on the road at this time? Designate dessies are all over Ireland, being responsible by not drinking, and taking their friends/partners/family to and from social venues.

    I am at present designing a website that will include a survey to gather true, unaltered, non biased statistical information from the PEOPLE of Ireland. It will Identify what the people see everyday, and what they believe are the causes. It will NOT feature any government propagandist revenue making schemes.

    I will post the URL here when it is ready

  13. Martin Hayes
    Posted March 21, 2007 at 18:11 | Permalink

    After reading your comments on your page about the hotelier to call on Gay Byrne to resign it is clear to see that you are insensitive to the reason of the bullitin in the first place. I believe that the man had every right to call on Mr Byrnes resignation. You do not know any of the parties involved and i believe that you are an insensitive, aragont, pety man and it would be greatly appreciate it if you kept your snide remarks to yourself when such a sensitive issue is being addressed! i would like an answer to my email.

    Reguards Martin

  14. Melanie
    Posted December 3, 2007 at 00:01 | Permalink

    To be pedantic.. as you all enjoy that word so much.

    Bulletin* Arrogant* Petty* Regards* (No need to be rude either)

    Redbeetle, some good points. If only people would listen. I dont pretend to be well educated on the road deaths topic, but we all know it needs to be sorted. Boy racers, drink and drug driving and indeed older people who need to be re-tested. These are the issues which need addressing first..then let’s talk about improving roads.

  15. Sally Rooney
    Posted December 13, 2007 at 21:14 | Permalink

    I wish it weren’t so, but the god-honest truth is that I don’t think this sort of thing can be prevented short of taking young men (and women, in the interests of fairness) off our roads entirely. And I would hesitate to say that that’s a good thing; we don’t need an Irish youth who hate the system even more than they do right now.

    Besides, I’m not seventeen till February and I already can’t wait…

  16. angelina03
    Posted September 10, 2008 at 04:29 | Permalink

    There is a fascination with road deaths in the Irich media.Almost every day a higher figure is quoted, and compared with this time last year . The figures invariably increased. These road deaths many be because of poorly surfaced roads,and inappropriated speed limits are to blame for many accidents

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