Sunday 30 April 2017

'So many ordinary people became tragic victims because of the careless, reckless driving of others but it's falling on deaf ears'

The number of deaths on Irish roads experienced a significant rise in 2016 and Irish Independent Motoring Editor Eddie Cunningham said it's time to pay attention to the statistics.

Speed is the biggest contributing factor to road deaths in Ireland
Speed is the biggest contributing factor to road deaths in Ireland
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

We all espouse laudable aspirations on road safety at this time of the year. But do most of us forget about them in an instant? I think we do.

How else can you explain what has happened over the past 12 months; there was a 15pc increase in road deaths in 2016 compared with 2015. That means 187 people lost their lives in 2016.

The suffering, shock and trauma for the families affected are beyond comprehension.

Many died because of the careless, reckless driving of others; ordinary decent people who became tragic victims. I don’t care what anyone says: more people are taking less care more often.

We are speeding. We are drink driving. It was more dangerous to be on the road in 2016 than it was the year before. The figures, sad and stark, prove that.

Yet we don’t need to wait for the statistics to be compiled: we get updates on the lethal results of our driving in the media every day. I believe we have become blasé. Despite  heroic efforts by those working so hard to save lives by highlighting the dangers, we merely seem to pause momentarily before moving on to something else.

I’ll be honest: I feel like I am wasting my time even bothering to scratch these few thoughts together. Isn’t it awful that such a sense of helplessness should prevail? I am at a loss to know how staying safe seems to slip down the pecking order of priorities when many of us get behind the wheel?

That may sound like an exaggeration – and I hope it is – but how else do you explain the increased carnage?

It’s as if we have a different conversation with ourselves. It’s as if we say to ourselves that we occupy a different world when we’re driving.

I am tempted not to go the conventional route and appeal for more careful driving on our roads this year because so few seem to be really listening or bothering.

I’m afraid many people regard road safety as a concept, not a reality; something to which we pay lip service but don’t really engage in.

I hope I’m wrong.

And I hope the figures for 2017 prove it.

Let me know what you think: ecunningham@independent.ie

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