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Let’s put safety first — but ‘road holocaust’ headlines are just nonsense

WHILE the eight road deaths recently in Donegal were appalling, the accompanying hysteria in the national press, as a result, is idiotic.

Various writers have referred to “the carnage on our roads” or “our national disaster” and one even went so far as to refer to it as “a holocaust on our roads”.

The reality is, of course, entirely different. On average, about 30,000 people die in this country every year from all causes. Road fatalities account for less than 1% of these. More than 1.5 million cars are on our roads daily and, on average, two occupants in those cars will be killed every three days. That’s one chance in every 2.25 million of getting killed in your car tomorrow. You have a statistically much higher chance of falling to your death down the stairs.

That is not to negate the need for the promotion of road safety, but three important points need to be made.

Firstly, there is little chance of us ever returning to the donkey and cart as our chosen mode of transport. The internal combustion engine is a fact for now.

Secondly, much progress has been made in the area of road safety in Ireland. A report earlier this year informed us that road deaths in Ireland were down by 42% since 2005.

The final unpalatable truth, for some, is that deaths will always occur on the roads, much as they will always occur in every other walk of life, no matter how regrettable. And every year, one in every 150 of us will die one way or another. It is neither a carnage nor a holocaust.

It’s simply called living, with all the risks and dangers inherent in the human condition.

John Mallon




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