At great speed

My current home is on Anglesea Road, Dublin. At various times of the day and night I come out of the house to walk my dog, and often the first task I have to accomplish is to cross the road. For those unfamiliar with the geography, Anglesea Road is in south Dublin, and it links two major thoroughfares into the city, and also runs past the Royal Dublin Society showgrounds. However, the houses on it are residential only. On either end of the road are some quite impressive speed bumps.

For all that, when I try to cross the road, and unless there happens to be traffic gridlock on it at that moment (which is not that rare), I will invariably find that it is a horribly dangerous undertaking, as the average speed of cars is often around 50 mph (or 80 km/h, in a 50 km/h or 30 mph speed limit area), and a number of cars are clearly going at much higher speeds. At no point since I have moved here have I ever seen a police speed check, and motorists have clearly factored that into their driving. On one occasion I saw a car drive past at what must have been 70 mph or so, and the driver then screeched to a stop as a car had stopped just in front of him; there was no accident, but it was a narrow miss. I walked up and knocked on his window, and then asked him whether he realised what speed he was doing. He gave me some pithy advice which I would be unable to follow, physically speaking.

In this country, speed limits are routinely ignored. Just occasionally I understand why, where some speed limits are inappropriately low – but only occasionally.

Tonight new speed cameras and speed checks will come into operation across the country, but I fear it won’t change a whole lot. Motorists seem to be of the view that speeding is their right, and while they will avoid being caught, for them that seems to be some sort of freedom fight against tyranny. My suspicion is that speed cameras will make some money for the state (perhaps we need that right now), but won’t change habits, unless we do more than just improve enforcement. We need to change attitudes. we need to stop kind and considerate people getting into cars and becoming reckless killers. We need to change the national culture.

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6 Comments on “At great speed”

  1. Vincent Says:

    ‘We need to change the national culture’. From Anglesea Road, good luck with that one.
    Most of us think that such places, there, Dalkey, Killiney, are one step from Gods waiting-room that is Eastbourne.
    Moreover, whatever hope you had from the presidential palace off the M1.
    Places where the population is quadrupled by the Garda protection squad. Well, Annoyed; Anglesea Road, in the IT letters just doesn’t zing somehow. It’s so bloody Trinity.

  2. 70mph on Anglesea Road is madness. However, 30KPH on the quays is another kind of madness. Yesterday I drove Lucan to Arklow by motorway and main road and then on to Woodenbridge by secondary road. It was very difficult to keep within speed limits but also it was clear that the limits were just too low. This unnecessary cause of annoyance undermines the chances of creating the “culture” you want.

  3. Jeffrey Says:

    From the traffic mess of Washington DC, I am consistently shocked by the selfishness of your 70mph driver. Weaving between cars and endangering lives as if the rest of us–drivers, cyclists, pedestrians–are on a sightseeing safari and do not also want to get home to partner and kids. Incredible. And a sign of the frightening unaccountability and anonymity of modern urban society.

  4. cormac Says:

    The problem is simple:
    (i) the Irish don’t care much to observe the rules
    (ii) we don’t care much to enforce the rules either

    It’s a pretty lethal combination when it comes to road safety. I think some policing can only help – indeed it may be that lack of policing is the main difference between the Irish, and say, the Americans

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