Recently the number of deaths on Irish roads so far this year has topped the 300 figure. It was a government target that the total amount of deaths this year would be less than 300, so not even halloween yet and already that figure is surpassed. What can be done about this then? Well the RSA (Road Safety Authority) is in the process of putting together it’s Road Safety Strategy for 2007 – 2011. It wants everyone including Joe Soaps to get involved and submit ideas and suggestions about what can be done to improve our roads.
Councillor Damien Blake of Letterkenny Town Council is taking a particularly proactive approach with his ‘Stop the Carnage’ campaign which attempts to use what’s known as the Irish Blogsphere (basically the Irish blogging community) to raise awareness of the problem in general and raise awareness of the fact that the RSA are listening and do want your views. He encourages blog owners to post their suggestions on their blogs and encourages others to leave their suggestions as comments on the various blogs which post about the campaign. Councillor Blake will then draw up a report based on the suggestions and forward it to the Minister for Transport, Taoiseach, Road Safety Authority, Insurance Federation and every member of the Oireachtas.
As far as my own suggestions are concerned, well I’m not a driver myself but some of my thoughts are outlined below.
Provisional Licenses. People who fail full driving tests should not be allowed to drive on their provisional licences without having tackled the reasons why they failed.
At the moment pretty much anyone can drive a car via the provisional license system, often people take their time and do 15-20 lessons before applying for this license, but other times only 3 or 4 lessons might have been conducted. This amount of lessons is not enough, I think before being allowed to apply for a provisional license a certified instructor will have to have signed off that MR. Smith (or whoever) has successfully conducted at least X amount of lessons. I would certainly make the theory test harder and possibly invest in some simulation systems to test peoples ability in various real driving scenarios.
Not sure if this is law already (think it is but it’s not enforced) but there should be a maximum amount of people allowed in the car of a provisional holder. A lot of young men get very ‘cocky’ when all their mates are in the car with them, it is this feeling of cockyness and the desire to ’show off’ that often results in a fatal road accident.
Again this might already be the case but I think provisional drivers should only need say 5 or 6 points on their licence to be taken off the road and not a whole 12 as is the case for full licence holders. This is the way it is in France and they have cut a third off their road death figure over the past four years, of course they have implemented lots of other ‘tactics’ too to reduce road deaths and thus this plays only a small part.
Insurance based rewards for good driving. If we really want people to slow down we have to give them an incentive to do it. Unfortunately the whole ’slow down and save lifes’ approach alone does not work. I recommend giving rewards in the form of lower insurance premiums to people who stay within speed limits and who drive safely and or people who make an effort to improve their driving skills. I believe the scheme run by Hibernian and promoted by ‘Duffer‘ called Ignition is an outstanding idea. It is mostly young people that get hit with huge insurance premiums and here is a scheme that promises to reduce premiums by at least 20% if one successfully passes a one day course designed to improve your driving skills, I really don’t understand why more insurance companies (possibly backed by the government) haven’t designed similar offerings.
Wasn’t there also talk of a speed monitor device being fitted to cars? This device would submit data back to some insurance company which can later analyse how many times the driver of the car was outside the allowed speed limit and raise or lower that drivers insurance premiums accordingly and thus drivers would be encouraged to stay within the speed limit as although they mightn’t think that it (it being death or paralyzation due to a car crash) would ever happen to them they will know that going over the limit will increase the likelihood that they will have to pay more for their insurance next year.
I think the goverments and of course the insurance companies should push for more speeding reduction schemes perhaps like the above because let’s not fool ourselfs here folks, IT IS SPEED WHICH KILLS, stray deer are not responsible for the over 300 deaths on our roads so far this year.
Drink Driving. Actually I think on this issue progress is being made particularly with the recent changes in the law which allow for random breath testing by the Guards. It has to continue though, there is no use in something being enforced for a couple of months only for things to then go back to the way they were.
Communication. I think a useful area of exploration which might enable better communication of safe driving practices to Ireland’s young people is to make use of the Internets many ‘cool’ sites such as Youtube, Bebo and MySpace. Young people respect these sites and are much more likely to listen to them than say the 6 o clock news which talks about the latest road safety guidelines.
OK enough jibber jabber from me, nearly time to sign off I think. In closing then I would like to ask you to please support Damien Blakes campaign and post your own suggestions for improved road safety either here or on his blog, alternatively if you own your own blog (Richard, Ken, Janine I’m looking at you) help spread the word by writing a small post about the subject, remember the more suggestions that come in the more likely the RSA will find one suggestion or indeed multiple suggestions that will really make a difference to the safety of Irish roads.