We are only three weeks into January 2017 and already there has been 11 fatalities on our roads. Seven are pedestrians, two are drivers and two are passengers. The reactions of government and government organisations are remarkable. Although drink driving has been identified as one of the causes of the increase in fatalities, Shane Ross, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport has outlined how he wants to ‘name and shame’ the offenders. Well name them anyway. It is debatable how many will feel any shame.
Of the seven dead, one happened in an urban area, two had just come off a bus, two were walking along a national road – one in daylight, one in the dark, one died on the M50 while the last was walking along a regional road on the fringe of the city. The first four out of the seven were killed in a situation where motorists should have seen or anticipated vulnerable road users. In an article on road safety in the Irish Independent, the journalist Luke Byrne referred three times to the Road Safety Authority urging pedestrians to make themselves more visible. In contrast, there was only one reference urging drivers to slow down. It is not known if this emphasis was as a result of the Road Safety Authority briefing or journalistic licence. Either way, the primary responsibility does not lie with vulnerable road users – they are the wrong target.