Irish News

Friday 11 July 2014

Onus is on public to reduce deaths -- not gardai

Paul Melia

Published 01/01/2014|02:30

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Gay Byrne

IT'S too easy to blame a lack of enforcement for the rise in fatalities on our roads during 2013.

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Speeding is still among the biggest causes of fatal accidents, and it's time that everyone started to take responsibility for their behaviour.

The figures tell their own story, and it's one of misery and sadness for dozens of families.

But one stark statistic stands out: the 19pc of victims in fatal crashes who weren't wearing a seatbelt when the car they were in went of out control.

That's 21 lives needlessly lost because someone forgot, or didn't bother, to strap themselves into the car. What a waste.

Road Safety Authority chairman Gay Byrne, pictured right, is right when he says a perception that the gardai aren't out on the roads enforcing the law is leading to people re-engaging in dangerous behaviour. But gardai can only do so much.

We have 100,000kms of road on this small island, among the highest rates in Europe, and the police cannot be everywhere.

Communities can help effect change.

The young driver (and it's young drivers who are much more likely to end their lives prematurely) who speeds around country boreens should be, and needs to be, taken aside and told to change their behaviour or risk being reported.

People should refuse to travel with drunk or dangerous drivers, and mobile phones should be banned. The RSA figures give some cause for hope.

Deaths are falling in the west, the only region in the country where this is happening. That's 10 lives saved. There's been a fall in the number of cyclists, and motorcycle pillion passengers, killed.

But clearly there's a job of work to be done on getting the message home.

Some 170,000 drivers were hit with penalty points for speeding during 2013 -- that's about one in every 20 who hold a licence, and who clearly believe they know best. Despite falls in road fatalities every year since 2005, they're now on the rise again.

We shouldn't be surprised. They couldn't fall forever, and perhaps this wake-up call will make some drivers think twice before causing unnecessary deaths.

Irish Independent

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