Saturday, 21 November 2009

Speed camera contract award will make no difference to road safety

You’ll know that the Government has awarded a lucrative speed camera operating contract to a private consortium, Go Safe - a move that will extract in excess of €16 million annually from motorists who don’t watch their speedos attentively. This is the minimum amount the consortium needs to generate to cover the scheme’s running costs. Go figure.

This blog has been arguing against speed cameras for years, so I’m not going to go into it all again, but suffice to say that their “effectiveness” is the subject of some debate, and in Britain they have simply become a self-perpetuating industry with no appreciable effect on road safety. See Scrap Speed Cameras Now - Daily Telegraph

Road deaths are the lowest they have ever been in Ireland, and this has happened in tandem with improved roads. The next time you look at the news and see the aftermath of a fatal crash, have a look at the road. Invariably it will be on a single-carriageway, rural road.

While we are slowly linking our cities together with (tolled) motorways – despite innate Irish conservatism – we will always have single-carriageway roads. But they can be improved through road widening, surface improvement, and the provision of stretches with dedicated overtaking sections, as they have on the European mainland.

Only a couple of days before this contract was awarded, four students were killed on a notorious accident blackspot at Ballintine, Galway. According to the Matt Cooper show yesterday, I am told, the locals speak of an accident a week at this location.

The following is from BreakingNews, Ireland Online:

Parish priest Fr Michael Kenny was called to the scene at about 8pm last night, shortly after the collision. "... The weather was terrible. There was terrible rain and the road conditions were pathetic,” he said.

Fr Kenny, who offered this morning’s Mass for the young women, said the area was notorious for accidents as the road narrows to a sharp bend on a slight incline. “It is a very notorious spot. It is renowned for car accidents,” he said. “It’s on a corner but there’s a drop-off, a slope, as you are coming round and you can lose control.”

I have lost count of the dangerous roads I have driven on where parts could be widened, the camber could be improved, drainage could be addressed, dangerous humps and dips could be levelled, junctions could be cleared to provide visability and so forth - clear measures that would make them safer. Roads, by the way, on which I would not dream of doing the legal limit of 80 Kmh. One such example is the pic above, scene of another accident.

But such measures require considered thought, planning, and constructive action on the part of the authorities – as opposed to simple posturing – so they will never be taken.


Anonymous said...

GUDAY MR GM the roads are bad the weather is bad drivers are young the cops are lAZY the cars are made of tissue paper its a horror story idont know the answer

The Gombeen Man said...

Howdy Mr BH. Half our roads are under water at the moment, so Go Safe will hope that situation changes or they won't make any money. Hope things are better in Beverly Hills?

Liam Ahern said...

Looks like they need guardrails.

The Gombeen Man said...

Whatever the solution is, Liam, it is definitely an engineering/road improvement one. Mind you, it was only after much resistance that the NRA put median barriers on motorways which had previously been without them.

Anonymous said...

Hi GM, even I'm not a fan of speed cameras, I believe your view is too simple. Most of these accidents happen at dark, poor conditions, and mostly with drivers involved living in the very same area. So I guess it's fair to assume they did know the road they were travelling on? Sure, “the road conditions were pathetic”, but because you’re allowed to do 80km/h, you don’t have to do 80km/h.
If people would take a more serious approach to driving, I’m sure a lot of these road deaths could be avoided. Driving is not just about fun!



The Gombeen Man said...

I've long argued that the emphasis should be on driver awareness, Wolfgang. Awareness of weather conditions, road surface, other traffic and adjusting speed and input accordingly suit the conditions. Not just watching a speedo to see it does not creep over a certain figure. But I am sure you agree.

On the roads, I'm not sure that the driver of the car in the accident mention was familiar with this road. Something in the Tribune seemed to indicate this, I think. But when there is one accident a week at a location, and locals are signing petitions to have the road improved (before this fatal accident), I think it does imply that the authorities have some work to do to improve the situation.

Anonymous said...

You got a point there ;-)