Monday 21 October 2019

Editorial: Terrible death toll on our roads a warning to us all

Stock photo: PA
Stock photo: PA


It has been a dreadful week on the roads with grief-stricken families mourning the unexpected loss of loved ones following car crashes in different parts of the country.

The deaths of two book lovers and the injuries sustained by their friend is a particularly poignant tragedy as they were on their way to a literary festival in Listowel. Equally sad is the death of the driver and sole occupant of the other car involved in the collision.

Everybody's sympathies go out to their families and friends and to those of the other families hit by tragedies this week.

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They include Vincent and Sully Rossi, the 29-year-old father and his five-year-old son who were killed when their car was in a collision with an articulated truck in Co Offaly as well as the victim of a hit-and-run in Dublin.

It's been one of the worst spates of deadly accidents since January when 10 people were killed in one week.

The January toll included four young men in Co Donegal, where far too many accidents have occurred over the years.

In 2018 the county recorded the fourth highest number of road fatalities in the country.

As we head into a busy bank holiday weekend, it is depressing to note that the number of deaths overall is up on the same period last year.

By the end of May last year there were 58 fatalities and this year there are already 67.

This is a worrying development as the total number had been declining steadily. Last year there were 146 fatalities on Irish roads which is just under half the total in 2006. But this welcome downward trend is in danger of being reversed.

Far too many still drink or take drugs and drive; they don't wear seat belts; they insist on using their mobile phones, or they speed, often with disastrous consequences. Speed is a factor in one-third of all fatal accidents in Ireland.

Road traffic injury is the biggest killer of young people aged 15 to 29 in the world according to the World Health Organisation.

The number of deaths each year is, of course, vastly overshadowed by the much larger cohort of people injured as a result of road accidents; there are thousands every year.

Many lives are shortened or severely restricted by such crashes.

Our roads are improving but the volume of traffic using them has again increased significantly, especially since the end of the recession.

The price of housing in our big cities is literally pushing people farther and farther away from their work places.

This means that more drivers are on the roads for longer periods in the morning and evening and many are suffering from fatigue, which is a contributory factory to accidents.

The message for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians this busy weekend is clear: "Be safe, be seen, be careful and be on the alert for other road users."

Irish Independent

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