Category: Archive

Echo Editorial: Safety lessons

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

It seems every weekend brings a fresh tragedy, a grieving family, a community stunned by the swift and brutal death of young and old. So
far this year, 320 people have died on Irish roads, North and South.
Everyone, especially Irish politicians, has a theory about who is to blame. Some say it is reckless young men, others blame drunks behind
the wheel. The advertising campaigns are based on the presumption that
it is speeding drivers.
Under pressure to “do something,” the Irish government two years ago introduced a penalty points system, familiar to many on this side of
the Atlantic. You get points for being caught speeding; accumulate too
many and you’re off the road.
The system has failed to have any impact on the numbers dying on the roads. Now the government is thinking of handing the system over to a private company that will presumably be more vigorous than the gardai in imposing points.
The authorities in Ireland should visit the United States some time, and learn from our successes and failures. Giving anyone a profit motive for issuing tickets is a really poor idea, as many who have driven through small towns with poorly funded police departments can attest.
Instead, they should ask if there are not more road deaths because, with new prosperity, there are more cars – and many of the roads are as bad as ever. It is on these smaller roads the fatal accidents occur, not on the freeways where the speed cameras are clustered.
If they really want to stop the carnage, they should straighten and widen those roads. It would cost a lot more than an ad campaign or persecuting the average driver, but it might actually work.

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