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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Roads in Ireland: aaagh!



I was reading another article in the Irish Times yesterday about the crazy amount of road deaths over the weekend. Really sad to hear I have to say firstly and never good for anyone to have to go through that.

However, after listening to some of the discussion on The Last Word on TodayFM last night also, I have to say that it really gets my back up is the state of Irish roads. There's all this discussion that basically that all the accidents are down to speeding. Do you know what, they're right. But not in the way they're all treating it and discussing it. Because it's not just younger people who are at it - it's everyone (o.k. most) who is speeding these days. Anyway, that's common across the world so there's no point going on about it - it's the nature of the world these days that we're all rushing a bit.

However, there's some differences to the rest of the world. Our driving test is rubbish - it's barely even a test really. So the younger drivers aren't been taught properly which means they don't know what to do when something bad happens (slippery road, standing water, etc.) which means that they're more likely to crash. The only reason older drivers don't is because they lucked their way through their driving from when they learned and gained some experience in what to do - hence they crash less. On top of all that, we all develop bad habits of not watching our mirrors, driving in the over-taking lane all the time (it's an over-taking lane, not a fast lane, remember), etc., etc.

On top of all that, the roads are rubbish. I'm being polite here and not cursing to describe them (mainly so my blog doesn't get flagged by Google for curses ;). I had to drive across to Meath last week from Kildare via the backroads. I don't care what anyone says but they're appalling - I've seen better roads in almost every country I've ever visited. If people want to reduce the number of crashes, fix the roads. Give drivers opportunities for over-taking, put proper sign-posting on dangerous bends (and the necessary speed reduction if so). In short, make the roads decent in this day and age. How many times can people remember driving into a bend under the speed limit and having to brake hard as there was no warning. That's just one simple example of the crap-ness of them. Don't get me wrong, I love the Irish country roads, they're part of our character and 'Ireland', but that's still no excuse for them to be in such useless condition.
As was pointed out on the radio yesterday by more than one listener, in the UK less than 5% (that's not a typo) of crashes are caused by speeding. As always, the vocal majority went ballistic at this (I hear Gay Byrne on the radio saying speed cameras are the solution - sigh) and threw it out as if this was impossible. It's not, the official stats were in the Sunday Times a few weeks ago. Stop blaming what people want to use as a scapegoat and fix the issues - they're pretty obvious.

I'll get off my high horse now :)

Image: some outback roads in Australia. Definitely worse than Irish roads :)

- Neal :) -