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.