The bodies keep piling up

I remember something a friend said to me about the UK. He came back for the weekend a month ago and we were catching up. Traffic and road deaths and crazy driving came up in conversation and he said that in the UK they’re nowhere near as obsessed about deaths on the roads as the Irish are. People die here, people die there. So what? It’s part of society. That was shocking to me, but then I remembered that they have an order of magnitude bigger population yet a much lower per-capita death rate on the roads. Why is that?

Damien Blake asks what can be done to stop the carnage on the roads? Up to this morning 55 sites or posts linked to Damien Mulley’s post about Thinkhouse PR. We bloggers can do the same for road deaths. Unfortunately it’s unlikely that the guys doing 200kph are the ones reading blogs. What Damien Blake can do is present our ideas to the people in power. It’s been brought to our attention that no single body has responsibility for the roads. The responsibility is shared so nobody is blamed when things go horribly wrong. Damien can bring our ideas to the attention of all of them. Go read his post, he has some great ideas to start with.

I’ve given up ranting about the bad driving I see. A quick search of my blog brought me back 2 years and I’m still saying the same thing. There will always be idiots, no that’s not right, careless and irresponsible people on the roads. I could go on and on. I could tell you about the idiot in the sports car who tore down Sunday Well past the traffic jam, risking a head on crash, or about all the times people speed past me on the Commons Road. Gardai – post a guy permanently there. He won’t be bored, he’ll have a great time and an empty ticket book when he gets back to the office!

Jeremy Clarkson is so eloquent you’d almost believe him. Almost. Go on, read his car review. Three quarters of it is taken up with his speel against anti-speed campaigners. I am glad he recognises truly bad driving as a danger to the rest of us, but his blase attitude to speeding is doubtless upsetting to anyone affected by speeding incidents.

This follows a weekend in which 7 people lost their lives. A fifth person involved in the Monahan crash died this evening. I heard on the news yesterday morning that the speedometer of one car had frozen at 150kph. Don’t try to say that was simply inappropriate speed. That’s never an appropriate speed on Irish roads! Why were they traveling that fast?

As we are oft to do, the Irish Government is following in the footsteps of the British Government and introducing a proper network of speed cameras to the country. At the moment there are 20 fixed speed cameras with only 3 operating at any one time to serve the whole country but that will be increased to 600 including mobile cameras in the next year. It’s expected that 11.1m checks will be made which means you and I will be checked on average 6 times a year. If you don’t speed you won’t have anything to worry about. The private operators running the system will be paid a flat fee so there’s no incentive for them to catch people. Hopefully it’ll have the same effect that the introduction of the penalty points system had when people were actually afraid of getting caught. I admit it’s scary to think that going 1kph over the speed limit will result in a fine and penalty points, but the manpower isn’t there and nothing else has worked. People don’t respond to the carrot, only the stick.

What should we do? The country can’t be paved with motorways, there will always be back roads and bad roads. I have one suggestion. Time. Offenders should serve time. Haul a speeding driver to the nearest Garda station and hold him there for 6 hours or overnight. He’ll soon forget what he was rushing to. Lock up a drunk driver for a week. Even though it is drastic, can you weigh any solution unfairly against the life of even one victim of our roads?