SAFETY ADVISORY: Foreign guests should plan journeys around Ireland to avoid stupid cars on the road. Head-on collisions happen every month. Driving on the left won't keep you safe. Neither will walking down country lanes at night.
READERS OF Irish blogs know you can find pretty much any perspective on current affairs, including the running scourge of stupid driving in Ireland. Some bloggers acquiesce to the undeserved "respect for the dead" clause that sugarcoats many issues that gain traction in the mainstream media. Let's get something straight: when someone violates the Commons by flinging themselves and their friends at high speed in public spaces, they have driven themselves into the spotlight of public scrutiny. When you're caught for speeding, the police pull you over and deal with you on the roadside. They do not shroud their activity. You are a perp on display. When you crash, the fire brigade doesn't erect a perimeter fence that prevents rubblerneckers from seeing the result. And when you die on a public road, possibly by your own feckless actions, a responsible media does not shirk its moral responsibility to document the case. Others need to learn and live. Only an irresponsible Fourth Estate fails to inform a free-thinking citizenry in the debate that should follow road carnage.
I will never forget the gratuitous Irish national television interviews of grieving relatives on the heels of one summertime crash. The interview focused on fluffy things about the community's grief surrounding the accident and the loss felt by family. When the relatives suggested that the lads died doing what they enjoyed--having a laugh while on a late night adventure on back roads--neither the political hack nor the presenter challenged the attitude of the parents. The interview served to reinforce the "Ah, sure, we're alright" attitude that frequently distorts road safety discussions by removing the issue of social responsibility from the equation.
It is simply anti-social to drive beyond imposed limits, your personal capabilities or the current conditions. It is a breach of civil order to run a motor vehicle at high speed in excess of posted speed or published noise limits. It is criminal to run into someone else or to kill a passenger while you're having a laugh with the lethal weapon under your bum. Since Ireland will never fund the resources needed to create an effective traffic safety corps, Irish citizens must take back their roads by upfront and sometimes personal reactions to stupid driving.
Instead of confronting these important social issues with a courage of conviction, too many Irish commentators roll over and acquiesce to selfish request for respect for the dead. If a dead cousin caused the deaths of another friend of the family, the dead driver's behaviour does not deserve community respect. And if my attitude sounds disrespectful and callous, go find yourself a soft and fluffy commentator who shares your grief.
You won't find soft-and-fluffy Irish road safety getting any traction around these parts.