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Things that make me go… Aaaaahhhh!!! October 26, 2006

Posted by jbwan in General.
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Those who know me, those who read my blog, and those whom have come within earshot of me will know well, my feelings on the media farce that is young drivers and young anything else that causes a problem. This last week has seen more carnage on our roads and I was not surprised to see the headlines. The Irish Times (October 23rd) lead with “Four men aged between 19 and 21 were killed” (this was a two car collision, the cause of which was unknown and the fault of which could only possibly be attributed to at most 2 people). Also in the same edition of the Times “Young drivers to be target of tough new proposals” a bid by the transport department to comfort the established driving community against these horrible young drivers.

On October 22nd the RTE 9 o’clock news lead with the headlining story of “Deaths of 6 more people, all of them young men”. After the headline however, the details emerged that this headline included passengers of cars and a 32 year old man (I thought that young was under 25?) who was a pedestrian, not even in a car! At the end of the report having gone through all the usual inference of young men this, young men that, the reporter Eileen Whelan stated that Garadí did not yet know the cause of the crash but yet we are left with the impression that it was just wreckless young males – all of them in a combined effort, passengers and all, who caused the crash.

Today I hear Noel Brett (CEO – Road Safety Authority) on the radio talking about the problems of being tired at the wheel and again he will be launching a campaign for this and again with a focus on young men! So, let me get this straight AXA sponsored ads tell us that young men drive too fast (seemingly the only ones who do), young men take too many chances (again seemingly the only group that do), young men drink and drive (again seemingly the only ones who do), young people never wear seatbelts (seemingly they are again alone here) and young people never look before crossing roads (again unqiue to the under-25 population). And now Noel Brett is telling us that young men are more likely to grow tired at the wheel than anyone else. Sweet mother of Jesus! How is that possible? How are young men/people the cause of everything? Even those things for which the Gardaí do not yet have an explanation? Even those things that statistics will indicate otherwise (e.g. drink driving)? Am I the only person who sees a problem here?

The young have always been such an easy scapegoat for those in more senior age brackets. “Ah sure ignore him, he’s young and headstrong” – a common phrase that we’ve all heard. The sad reality is that this is a reflection of the way people were brought up – to dismiss the opinion of youth and as a result to opress the young as if it was a rite of passage before they can be accepted. The young have also become a convenient source of income for big companies such as insurance companies. Young people need to drive, catch-22, they have to pay whatever the insurance company wants irrespective of their attitude to driving. Hardly seems fair but it keeps the older age brackets happy because it apparently doesn’t effect their premiums then (although I doubt this very much). Even still many young people cannot afford the outrageous premiums quoted and are then bankrolled by parents (anyone see any logic here?). If you really think that your young son or daughter is that much of a risk that they should be quoted far more than you for insurance then why are you paying their premium? Shouldn’t you be encouraging them to take the bus or something? Do you not care about them?

For years, I have been on the campaign trail of equal rights for young people, I have taken cases against insurance companies, sent God knows how many registered letters, spoken on record to newspapers and written to other media and politicians. The fact that this media farce continues and worsens is sickening to me. Since these people love their statistics, let’s look at some statistics shall we? According to the CSO figures for 2002 16.7% of the overall young male population in this country is aged between 15 and 24. The actual figure for all under 25 males is 38.5% of the entire male population. Now let’s throw young females into the equation: 36.5% of the entire female population is aged between 0 and 24. Now let’s take senior citizens, 65 and over: over-65’s account for 9.7% of the male population and 12.5% of the female population. Now let’s put it all together under-24’s male and female account for 37.5% of the entire Irish population and over-65’s account for 11.1% of the overall Irish population. That means that 48.6% of the country is under 25 or over 65 (incidentally, 16.4% of the population is aged between 15 and 24). Meaning that 51.4% of the population is between 25 and 65. A pretty even split you will agree.

Now let’s look at the 2001 end of year, annual report from the National Safety council. Of all drivers killed on the roads in 2001, 35 out of 139 were aged between 15 and 24. That’s 25% of all driver fatalities were aged between 15 and 24. 14 out of 139 were over 65 – that’s 10% of all driver fatalities. This leaves 65% of fatalities within the 25-65 year-old bracket and obviously 75% above 25 years old. So simple math ensues: 51.4% of the population suffers a driver fatality rate of 65% and 16.4% of the population (ages 15-24) suffers a fatality rate of 25%. Out of this 25%, 3 out of 139 drivers were under 17 and therefore not possibly insurable, legitimate drivers and must be removed from the statistic as honest road users (equalling 2.2% of all driver fatalities). This means that in effect only 22.8% of all accidents in 2001 were caused by 16.4% of the legitimate population. 22.8% of all drivers killed on our roads in 2001 were between 17 and 24 and yet that same age group makes up for nearly all of the media publicity and certainly all of the TV adverts. Even though 77.2% of accidents are not caused by drivers between 17 and 24 we see fit to blame them for everything.

The facts don’t lie and honest statistical interpretation does not lie either. What I have aimed to show here is that the proportionality is roughly the same across all age brackets. I, unlike others, do not see fit to blame an age group. We should not show negative bias towards young or old when the figures show that the trend is linear across the board. If anything we should be focussing on where the largest proporation of accidents occurs. Oddly enough, this is not the 17-24 year-old bracket, although you would be forgiven for thinking otherwise based on media campaigns.

Let’s stop this lunacy of blaming the young now. Highlight it in any way that you can: Talk to your politicians, appeal to the advertising standards commission for equal representation of old and young in road safety adverts. Talk about it with your friends, family, the general public, politicians. Blog it! Bring people’s attention to these real figures that can be verified so easilly. Don’t wind up in a situation were it just becomes accepted and not questioned. Some day you’ll have children of your own, do you want them to suffer without just cause? Let’s see the truth really come out! Stop protecting the insurance companies – they certainly will not repay the favour!!

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1. Podcasting in Ireland - October 27, 2006

Road Safety Mash-up for Conn

After reading a little from Damien Blake and Jonathan Brazil, we start talking about road safety, take a call from Simon McGarr about viral videos, dissect a mash-up from Conn O Muineachain while trying to say his name, listen to another lesson on how …

2. Brian W - November 2, 2006

Wow, nice work.

Spotted this today though: http://www.unison.ie/irish_independent/stories.php3?ca=9&si=1082238&issue_id=10075
(registration required, or bugmenot.com)

”’Mr Conlon went on to highlight the dangers posed by computer driving games. “Young people think they are learning how to drive by playing video games. These games encourage them to drive at highly excessive speeds and in a daredevil manner.”’

and of course, Grand Theft Auto gets a mention too.

3. Paul - November 26, 2006

I agree with most of what you have to say on the subject of young drivers as scapegoats. As a used to be young Irish male driver who luckily learned in the UK + did all my early driving there, I dont have the blinkered views that seem to affect an ungodly percentage of driver here.
Driving here is poor, right across the board, from the 70 yr olds who never heard of a test, to the 50 yr olds who got their “amnesty” licences to the 17 yr olds with brand new Peugout 205s but but no licence (provisional means no licence) from the engineers who cant figure out how to traffic light or signpost correctly to the politicians whose road safety policies appear to be drawn up on beer mats.
It is a fact that young male drivers are statistically a higher risk, that is the same across the world, but only in Ireland is it used as a scapegoat to hide the fact that our more mature drivers are little better than inexperienced drivers themselves with a huge range of bad habits that would not be acceptable in any other first world country. There is a world of differnce between the average Irish driver and the average British driver. Most British drivers are aghast and bemused when they hear or see what goes on over here on our roads. There is no pride in motoring here.
A few examples are needed to illustrate – they all come from my under 25yr old mates – The most important thing to do after leaving school is pass your driving test. If you reach 19 without it, you are a bit old. While I have been driven by friends on motorways in excess of 125mph, these same friends would take the piss out you if you didnt stop exactly at the stop line for a red light or parked more than an inch from the kerb and absolutely would not allow us unlicenced paddies drive unaccompanied while learning.
SPEED is not the issue, bad driving is the issue, young or old. Since returning to the oulde sod, I drive alot slower here yet I feel one tenth as safe. Dont get me wrong, I love to drive fairly quickly but unlike in the UK that is not possible here due to the vast quantity of eejits young and old on our roads. I could go on and on but from experience I have found that the wearing of blinkers leaves people easy to antagonise or just switch off – much easier to blame young fellows and mantra SPEED SPEED and let that be an end to it, shure it’ll sort itself oout when we get speed cameras. Well damn ye eejits out there who are about to foist cameras on the rest of us cos ye cant be bothered to learn properly or use common sense on the road, when all we want to do is get from a to b in reasonable safety at reasonable speed. And a safe speed isnt always that decided by some county council so that their land can be rezoned easier for development or because some councillor recited his speed mantra over his allowable 3 o 4 pints after the meeting before driving slowly and carefully home. Speed is way down the list of causes of accidents. Drink, bad/careless driving and fatigue are the main causes of accidents.
Getting back to that fatigue issue you also mentioned, dont understimate the role of fatigue in the life of a young driver, I have experienced it alot more when younger (luckily without too serious consequences) but between sports, partying and driving as a young person you are more likely to be mixing all 3 so on a wet motorway with 100 miles to go drowsiness hits hard and fast without warning.

Driving licences are meaningless here, you drive with full or provo, no difference, why bother.
Parents with no formal qualifications themselves “teach” their kids to “drive”.
During the month of either July or August (cant remember ask RTE for the list again) not one person under 25 died on our roads. No one commented on this, perhaps they were all in Ibiza.
I was bemused a few weeks ago when Mornig Ireland interviewed 2 so called boy racers after a paricularly bad weekend, and one of them said he had done the Advanced drivers test. He was probably more qualified to drive than any of the people interviewing him but nobody commented, they were just aghast at this young fella they trotted out to illustrate what we should be looking out foron our roads, trying to make a pariah of someone who had gone out of his way to get trained over and above the measly Irish licence so he cold more safely enjoy a more powerful car. The real pariahs are those who never did a test, who pass on their “skills” and attitudes to their kids and then wonder why the kid they let out one night in the Mondeo or 318i comes home in a much smaller box.

Motoring should be a joy, but I fear in Ireland it never will realise that potential. Once we have widespread private cameras, that will be the end of it for your normal motorist. They wont make people better drivers, just slower paranoid rubberenecked ones.

And in case you havent realised it by by now I am angry, better to get angry now than …
Apart from the obvious why am I angry. Well in 7 yrs of UK driving as a young riskier driver, driving the length of England and Scotland for work and leisure my car was never hit, I was was never hit, my bike was never hit. I never witnessed a serious accident, rarely even saw anything blatantly stupid on the roads there. I regularly drove at 90 on motorways and dual carrigeways and if you are not driving dangerously it is rarely an issue with the police. I got one speeding ticket in the middle of the night when I was the only person to be caught. Relatively speaking I was the
Since returning here I have had 2 cars written off, one by a drunken driver (my car was parked up) once by a sleepy truckdriver rere-ending me. My current car has been hit several times including by a bb gun and 2 drunken guys beaten on my car by bouncers, and an unmarked garda car. My wife has been knocked off her bike by a top of the range Merc breaking a red light, Ive been taken off my bike by a lunatic taxi driver, I have been witness to several (some serious) accidents, reported many drunk drivers and just today I saw for the second time this year what I thought was a once in a lifetime experience a woman driving across OConnell bridge on the wrong side. I know of friends seriously injured by drunken drivers and a young man who died asleep at the wheel
And the one that stays with me the most clearly from when I was a kid – a toddler bounced off the front of a car (but luckily not seriously injured). And that driver wasnt going fast – just not paying attention.
Now do you question my right to be angry.


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