I’m English and spend a lot of time over in Ireland, primarily Dublin, but I’m starting to see more of the country. Every single weekend I’m amazed by how much fuss is made about the problems – you’re right of course, about the difference in size of the population here, but the proportion of road deaths that we suffer is much smaller.
I honestly think that following the British government’s obsession with speed cameras is not the way forward. Speed cameras are not proven, in most cases, to actually reduce accidents and my own experience is that the can cause dangerous driving (rapid braking, for instance). The fact of the matter is people drive at speeds they feel comfortable – and that varies with the car, the road, the weather, the time of day and numerous other factors. I’ll admit there are some situations where speed cameras are a good idea though.
The biggest problem on Irish roads, in my opinion, arises from the distribution of the population. I won’t even consider Dublin itself, but the roads I’ve seen outside of there are pretty much shocking – not able to take the increased traffic, I can only imagine what it’s like out in the “real” country areas.
More so than the roads, I think the biggest problem is education of drivers – from what I can tell the conditions for someone to drive aren’t exactly stringent. This cannot be helped by the sudden, massive influx of immigrants (as a proportion of the total population). One other factor that I think makes is a difference is drink-driving – I suspect the stories we hear are largely apocryphal, but there must be some truth there.