Friday, 26 June 2009

Near fatal road accident - and speed not a factor.

A recent AA survey revealed that 70% of Irish motorists admitted to breaking the speed limit during the last year.

That’s a shocking statistic. Shocking, that is, to think that 30% of our motorists are so anally retentive and unthinking, that they stay religiously within the speed limit, no matter what, and no matter how inappropriate it may be for the conditions.

Maybe that will explain the many instances of inattentive, sloppy driving seen on our roads. These fundamentalists of the highways are too busy scrutinising their speedometers to see what’s going on around them… including the queue of fifty cars stuck behind.

Noel Brett of the Road Safety Authority quango, speaks with unshakable certainty when he cites the above statistic as evidence for the continued existence of road deaths (which have been on a steady downward trend for years, by the way). “Speed is the most common contributory factor in road accidents", he will tell you. But the very act of driving a car is a contributory factor, if you want to be like that, Mr Brett.

Tell it to the Germans, who have no mandatory speed limits on the majority of their motorway network, but have fewer road fatalities than we do. So, it’s not speed – it's inappropriate speed. And then you have inappropriate speed limits, like 60km/h on some of our dual carriageways and 80km/h on side roads a donkey could hardly walk down. Mr Brett, please put a sock in it.

It's all a bit lazy too. The authorities like to preach to us about our responsibilities… but what about theirs? Look at the picture above. It is of an unguarded level crossing in Ballymote, Sligo. A car has just crossed the path of an oncoming train and narrowly avoided a fatal accident.

Where are the automatic barriers? How, in this day and age can we still have level crossings that rely on someone getting in and out of their car to open and close a cow gate every time they cross a railway line? What does the Road Safety Authority have to say about this?

What does it have to say about uncut hedgerows on dangerous junctions that obscure the view of motorists? What about roads that don’t have any footpaths, where pedestrians take their lives in their hands every time they walk home on them - particularly at night. What about badly surfaced, dangerous, pot-holed roads?

In my opinion any State-sponsored spokesperson whose stated aim is to improve road safety, but fails conspiciously to mention the primary factors in our road accident statistics doe not deserve our tax money.

Mr Noel Brett and Mr Gay Byrne, go and find something else to bleat about, instead of acting as cheerleaders for the companies that will fleece us with their privatised speed cameras.

Back to Gombeen Nation main page


Bernd said...

Minor niggle - having just driven around 3,000 km through Germany I came across no Autobahn with a speed limit of less than 130 km/h, the majority being at 120 km/h ... but this has more to do with emissions than road deaths.

The Gombeen Man said...

Welcome back Bernd. Hope you enjoyed your driving.

I remember that in 2004 an ACAD spokesperson, Wolfgang Steichle, said that close to 70% of Germany's 12,000 kilometres of motorway had no mandatory, or compulsory, speed limit. But I know that, recently, many authorites have been rolling out more compulsory limits on the grounds you describe.

I found it interesting, in view of one-issue nature of road safety debate here in Ireland, that Steichle pointed out that the Autobahnen were the safest roads in Germany back then, 70% unrestricted and all!

I don't know what the current percentage of roads are still governed by an advisory speed limit - as opposed to a general one - but I'll have to find out.

Anonymous said...

forget about the Germans - what Ireland needs is a good dose of those sneaky French cops deployed around les spots noir - you know what I'm saying GM, those ninety big ones still hurt n'est pas?. In no time at all bankruptcy will reign supreme while road traffic accidents plummet. Ponyboy for Taoiseach

The Gombeen Man said...

Yes, I know all about sneaky coppers, PB. In France and here, unfortunately!

Denis said...

I lived in germany for 3 years in the nineties (serving with the Brits you see) and here's the thing about german speed limits: when on the autobahn (they had no limit then for emissions) you could do what speed you liked; if you flashed someone to move over, that was no problem because it was perceived as a polite request to move over (unlike here or UK). But when they DID publish a speed limit - on side roads or by autobahn roadworks, every single man-jack of them obeyed it. I never, ever saw a german flout a published speed limit, partially because they like rules and partially because they acknowledged they had a give-and-take situation. And partially because the politzei are utter bastards.

The Gombeen Man said...

I remember driving across part of Germany a few years back,Denis, into the old East. Got as far as Halle. Was a good experience as the standard of driving is so much better - and you had the feeling that speed limits had some relation to conditions.
And then again, there were plenty of unrestricted stretches were you could cover a good few clicks without fear of persecution. So glad to say that I didn't attract any attention from "die Bullen"!