Irish Road Carnage- What Can We Do?

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Another Monday morning, another weekend of carnage on the Irish roads.

At the same time, we have judges failing to disqualify drivers caught racing at 200kph on the Mullingar bypass while video-taping each other.

We despair about the state of Irish roads, road safety and driving. In particular, young male drivers come in for much criticism. As a young male driver, I fuly accept this criticism is relevant. Events like this weekend show that.

Yes, there are many, many young drivers who drive safely (I’d say easily over 95%), but the statistics do not lie. It is young people who are dying on the roads of Ireland. They are dying every week, primarily at the weekend and almost always at night.

Young people must now stand up and take the lead on this issue. We are killing each other. The Government, The Road Safety Authority and Local Authorities around the Country are doing what they can, but this is an issue that every Irish person needs to get involved with.

It’s time to stand up and be counted. Last week, I made a small contribution to a Highland Radio debate on E-Voting. From that, I got coverage across the Internet, peaking with a piece in the main section of yesterday’s Sunday Times. Without the Internet, I would just be another small-time politician speaking to a local audience.

The Internet amplified my small contribution to that debate. E-Voting is important, but voting machines won’t kill 400 Irish people this year.

What can we do? I’d like to see Irish Bloggers declare this “Stop The Carnage Week”. We each have a voice; this is an issue on which we need to be as vocal as possible. But, if everyone shouts “something must be done” we’ll be no further on than we are today.

Here’s what I’d like to do:

  • Write a post on your own blog
  • Tag it with ““, link to this post or add a comment below with the link
  • If you don’t have a blog, you can comment here
  • Most importantly, we need your suggestions on how to improve things
  • I’ll prepare a report on the submissions, and forward it to the Minister, Taoiseach, Road Safety Authority, Insurance Federation and every member of the Oireachtas.

To get started, here are some of my suggestions:

  • When a driver loses their licence, they lose their licence.
    Rather than a suspension, as currently happens, the driver is banned from driving for the period and must then apply for a provisional licence, and resit their test, rather than automatically getting their (often clean) licence back.
  • Permanent Penalty Points
    Currently, penalty points expire after three years. I propose two changes – firstly, for serious breaches like Drink Driving, Speeding and Dangerous Driving, penalties points should be permanent. Second, once you have been banned your licence should be automatically loaded with a number of permanent points, related to the reason for your ban.
  • Zero Tolerance Approach
    A few issues really get to me. I believe their should be automatic bans for, among other things, using a mobile phone while driving, drink driving, driving while uninsured and driving without a licence.
  • Two Strikes, You’re Out
    Everyone deserves a second chance, but if someone has been banned from driving, then resat their driving test and returned to the road, their should be no more chances. A second driving ban should see a driver off the road, permanently.
  • Probation Period & Repeat Tests
    The entire system of driver education in Ireland needs to be completely overhauled. Two elements I’d like to see, as part of a new testing system, are a probation period and repeat tests. I believe newly qualified drivers should have all the same rights as other drivers (speed limits, distance, hours etc), but they should be at risk of having their licence revoked on four points, instead of twelve, for the first two years. New drivers should also be tested at least once again after they pass their test, to ensure that at least a year passes before the bad habits form.

I’m not a perfect driver*, and I’m sure there are things I do on the road that would annoy many people as the items above get to me. We all need to be committed to full awareness while on the roads, at all times.

I can’t do this on my own, so any help you can give would be greatly appreciated. Drop me an email or a comment if you can help out. I’ve registered today to co-ordinate and develop this campaign, but it’ll be a few days before that domain is operational.

* I failed my test twice, when I was 17 and 18. First time, I went through an Orange light on the way back into the testing centre. Second time, I was “too cautious” while taking right turns at the New Line Road/Glencar Road junction. I now have my (clean!) licence over five years

Update: In my haste to get this started, I forgot to mention, the first Irish site to tackle this issue. Their Map of Road Deaths is very chilling.