Friday, April 21, 2006


Road deaths not our fault - McDowell

Don't blame meThe Government must not be blamed for the mounting death toll on the roads, Minister for Justice Michael McDowell has warned.

Mr McDowell said speed and drinking caused most collisions and these factors were the fault of drivers.

Eight people died during the Easter Bank holiday, including four Polish nationals who collided head-on with a truck near Bandon, Co Cork, on Saturday.

The Justice Minister told reporters at a Garda graduation ceremony in Templemore:

"I would tell drivers that it is not the gardaí that keep you safe in your car. If you are involved in an accident, it’s not the Garda’s fault. It’s mainly due to speed and drinking.

"Let’s not say that this is the state’s fault. Let’s remember that driver safety is primarily an issue for drivers."

That's not good enough, Minister. The garda could do more to clamp down on those who are driving while intoxicated. I've asked this before here on United Irelander - why don't we have the Guards outside pubs with breathalysers ready to nab those who seek to get away with drinking and driving?

The state can't wash its hands over this matter. People are dying.

Mr McDowell also warned foreign nationals that they must familiarise themselves with the rules of the road in Ireland and stressed that uninsured cars will be impounded:

"It is obviously a cause of concern if anybody is ignoring the rules of the road. I don’t want to dump on one community over another but everybody has to familiarise themselves with the rules of the road.

"Nobody is exempt from the operation of our laws. If you come to Ireland to work you must find out what our laws are and you must obey them."

Why are foreign nationals allowed on the road if they don't know the rules of the road? More lunacy! Make any foreigner who wishes to live in this country and drive a car take a driving test here in Ireland. Simple. You can't be blase about a car which, in the wrong hands, can be a lethal weapon.

Here are a few suggestions of my own for you, Mr McDowell:

1. Restore credibility to the driving test - End this farcicial situation with Provisonal licenses which I highlighted in this post. Either people are qualified to drive on our roads or they aren't. There should be no in-between.

2. Ensure that foreign nationals know the rules of the road - It is madness to allow people who are unfamiliar with our road laws the chance of driving a menacing chunk of metal that weighs tons. It is playing with fire.

3. Catch those drinking - Make an all-out effort to snare those people who wish to drink and drive. As I said above, ensure that the Guards are well positioned to test people for their alcohol levels and if people are found to be drinking and driving then they should have their licenses revoked immediately.

4. Make a better effort - Put more thought and effort into the campaigns to stop people drinking and driivng. It seemed to me that there was more effort put into the campaign to stop people smoking in public places than there has been to get people to stop drinking and driving. We know what poses the biggest risk to our health at the minute...

5. Stricter punishment - Currently, any driver that receives 12 penalty points in any 3 year period, is automatically faced with a 6-month disqualification from driving. Big deal! How about...any driver that reaches three offences, which includes speeding and drinking and driving, is automatically faced with a 5-year disqualification from driving? That would work I'm sure.

These measures I feel would reduce the number of deaths on our roads. We need to get our act together.

Leadership is required Mr McDowell. Either step up or step down.


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