Meathman's Diary: Stupidity on our roads

Some years back, maybe even a decade ago, a circular went around to newspapers regarding road traffic collisions. I can’t remember whether it was sent by the Road Safety Authority, An Garda Síochana, or from some of the groups campaigning for greater care on the roads.

It asked the newspapers not to describe collisions on the roads as accidents. The terminology up to then would have been road traffic accident - RTA in Garda speak. There is no such thing as an accident on the roads, it claimed – there was always a reason for the collision.

It is so true. On Friday evening, travelling from Navan towards Dunsany, I came behind a car around Garlow Cross and the roundabouts. It was travelling 20 miles beneath the speed limit, which was slightly irritating, but I could also see in the dark that it had an N sticker on the back, and possibly a youngster bopping around the back seat. I stayed behind as it was raining, conditions weren’t great, and there was a lot of oncoming traffic.

The vehicle behind me wasn’t happy, flashing at me to overtake, and driving up quite close to my rear.

I demurred. And eventually indicated at Ross Cross that I was turning to Dunsany. Only for the vehicle behind me to indicate left and head for Skryne. What was his big hurry? (I feel it was a he, but maybe I'm wrong!)

Then, in front of me heading for Dunsany were about five cars. Again, not travelling fast enough for some people. The car on front of me decided to overtake the two on front of it, even though there were another couple ahead of that again. The mind boggles. This was a stretch that had seen a fatality in the past. What is wrong with people?

Last week, sitting in waiting traffic on Beaufort Road in the town (from the Round O to the fire station) I could see, in my mirror, a car swinging around on the lanes behind me. As it got closer to me, it swerved out onto the outside lane, and I could see the driver was either filming himself or on a video call.

Stand on the side of the street, at a junction, or sit in the window of a streetside café any day in the town, and you will witness drivers using their mobile phones. Women with children as passengers; men in heavy goods vehicles or agricultural or construction machinery; drivers of company vehicles who don’t seem to care that their business is named across the side of their car/van; even local authority or semi-state company workers, all breaking the law.

No matter what the Road Safety Authority do; no matter how much legislation the Department of Transport introduces; no matter how much enforcement the Department of Justice and Gardai do, the fact is that driver behaviour is to blame for most 'accidents'. And it is true to say that they are not accidents at all – they are the results of driver stupidity.