Speed cameras will force change in behaviour

THE opinion of John Mallon on road crashes (Irish Examiner letters, August 16) is not supported by available facts. Very few motor vehicle crashes are accidents, events without apparent cause.

The facts in Ireland are:

* The behaviour of drivers contributes to 76.9% of road fatalities.

* The behaviour of pedestrians contributes to 15.3% of road fatalities.

* Road factors contribute to 4.4% of fatalities.

* Environmental factors contribute to 2.6% of road fatalities.

* Vehicle factors contribute to 0.8%.

Put simply, we break the speed limit and drive too fast for the conditions and circumstances in which we find ourselves. We drive while impaired, be it through alcohol, drugs (legal and illegal) or fatigue (and, yes, it is against the law if fatigue causes impaired driving).

We don’t wear seat belts and the majority of parents don’t restrain their children in the back seat of a car. We don’t pay due regard to the vulnerability of other road users.

Using the term ‘accident’ to describe collisions is a statement of denial. It is our attempt to avoid responsibility for the carnage on the roads. It allows me to evade my responsibility for road tragedy and to hide behind the delusion that it is all down to blind chance.

Ultimately, it is about taking personal responsibility for our own behaviour. When we do, we save lives and avoid serious injuries. That’s a fact.

Consider another fact. In the four months after the introduction of penalty points in November 2002, road deaths fell from an average of 30 per month to 20 per month.

Why? Drivers slowed down a little. Lives were saved.

The Mater Hospital spinal injuries unit reported a fall of 50% in admissions. This improvement was not sustained because the necessary investment in enforcement technology and resources had not been made. The illusion of enforcement was exposed. Behaviour regressed. People died.

A safety camera programme, managed and administered appropriate to Irish circumstances, will save hundreds of lives and avoid thousands of serious injuries every year simply by forcing enough of us permanently to change our behaviour - a little.

It will be financed by recidivist speeding law-breakers. That’s a fact.

Eddie Shaw

Chairman

National Safety Council

4 Northbrook Road

Ranelagh

Dublin 6

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