Friday 21 October 2016

Irish man whose life was saved by seatbelt says he still won’t wear one: 'I just don’t feel comfortable wearing it'

Tomás Heneghan

Published 20/08/2016 | 15:27

The Documentary on One delved into road deaths in Donegal
The Documentary on One delved into road deaths in Donegal

Despite crashing into steel pillars and a wall while speeding, a man who says his life was saved by a seatbelt admitted that still he does not wear one while driving.

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Speaking on RTÉ Radio’s Documentary on One, which aired on Saturday afternoon, the man who gave his name as Ciarán said his son was also in the car at the time of the accident.

The documentary, ‘We Decide Who Lives or Dies’ gave the views of drivers in Donegal as the county saw another five lives lost on its roads over a two day period at the end of July.

Ciarán told the creator of the documentary, Ronan Kelly, he had been driving 125 miles per hour at the time of the crash.

“[I] hit eight steel pillars, two ESB poles and a wall and that was it. Still standing. Live to tell the tale,” he explained.

When asked why he was driving at that speed, Ciarán said: “No reason. Just a moment of madness, that’s all it was.

“Just to get a picture to see what the car could really do and that’s what she could do. 125 – she wouldn’t go no harder.”

He also said despite being saved by a seatbelt during the crash, he would not be a “big fan” of them and would usually not wear one.

“I just don’t feel comfortable wearing it. That night it saved my life, no doubt about it, seat belt saved my life that night,” he said.

“Just had it on that night. Don’t know why I had it on. There’s no particular reason. It was on that night and it saved my life.”

However following the deaths of five young people on the county’s roads over two days last month, Ciarán said: “It’s put the fear of god into everyone.”

He also said: “You can’t stop anybody from speeding, no matter what.”

Driving tester Terry, who also featured in the documentary, speculated as to why Donegal has a tragic history of road deaths, particularly amongst young drivers.

“They’re just turned 17 and they’re in there for their driving test. They can’t wait. They have to have a license as soon as they’re 17. Plus the fact that they’re living in the countryside and they’re travelling to their work and they need to have a license.”

Some young drivers spoke about how they use driving as a way to meet up with friends and to get out of their houses in the particularly rural county.

Another said: “It’s a good meeting point because a lot of people now live with their parents. It’s not easy to get a house on your own. It’s not cheap. So you meet with your friends where you can and this is a good place.”

Kelly also spoke to a taxi driver in the area who said he chose not to wear a seatbelt as it made it easier to chase down passengers who tried to avoid paying a fare.

“I’ll have two or three of them tonight. Guaranteed. They’ll just go to get out of the car to pay you and the next thing, they take off running and they’ll run through a housing estate or they’ll run through their next-door neighbour's garden,” the taxi driver explained.

The documentary also brought to light another common driving practice in the county, whereby teenagers, some as young as 15 years, use tractors to drive around the county before they get a license to drive a car.

A county council official speaking who featured in the documentary said they tried to educate teenagers on the risks and aftermath of dangerous driving through a school roadshow.

Cautioning against dangerous driving Brian O’Donnell said: “We basically decide who lives and who dies when we step [into] a car on the road.”

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