Road Safety Ireland – April 2019 – Tom Harrington LL B F Inst. MTD

This issue…

ü ‘Shocking’ No ‘L’ Tests Done

ü Independent Driving

ü Backseat Feedback

ü Many Appeals Successful

ü Garda HQ Crash

ü Driving Test Fees

ü Speed Marathon

ü Equine Accidents

ü Insurance Fraud Costing Jobs

ü Driving & Cannabis OK

ü Novel “Crash for Cash”

ü Classic Ferrari Goes Electric

ü In Brief ..

ü Officer “Blew It”

‘Shocking’ No ‘L’ Tests Done

The CEO, Moyah Murdock of the Road Safety Authority (RSA) has described the number of learner drivers who have never sat the test as shocking. Over 120,000 permit holders who got their first provisional licence between 1984 and 2016 have never taken a test according to the latest figures obtained under the FOI Act. Currently learner drivers have only to book a test of they want to renew their permit. The CEO said: “The issue here number one is whether these people are driving unaccompanied or not and that must be emphasized. We aren’t saying that everybody that has an ‘L’ permit is actively breaking the law but we are aware of a significant cohort of people who drive unaccompanied. For a long period of time now we have been doing our best to encourage these people into the driving test”. The RSA also said the 125,860 permits issued between 1984 and 2016 remain active, meaning they are being renewed every year.


Independent Driving

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) is now considering the inclusion of an Independent Driving element into the practical aspect of the existing driving test. Several countries including Great Britain (GB), the Netherlands, Finland and Sweden have already introduced this element. A pilot test in the Netherlands showed that Independent Driving added value to the driving test. Also, Independent Driving was perceived as “real driving” by ‘L’ drivers, ADIs and examiners in GB (DSA 2010). The option selected here is the Sat Nav device as both in the UK and Sweden consider the driver is driving independently of the driving examiner’s direction and ergo displaying decision making skills.


Backseat Feedback

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) is introducing a pilot scheme to assess the benefits of having your trainer (ADI) sitting in for feedback after your test. The pilot scheme will run initially from Tallaght and Finglas (Dublin), Cork and Galway for two weeks only. The ADI must have given at least one lesson to the pupil. Both pupil and trainer will be asked to complete a questionnaire to evaluate this initiative. Feedback will last for between 30 and 60 seconds and will address one or two of the main points requiring attention and will not be a full debrief of the test.


Comment. This initiative appears to be half-baked. (1) Why is the trainer not allowed to sit-in during the whole test? (2)  How much feedback can you give in 30/60 seconds? (3) Only one or two of the main points will be discussed. What if there are 5/6 points. Should a driver make several serious/disqualifying faults, is there much value in only dealing with one or two of those.


Many Appeals Successful

A third of court appeals against driver disqualification are successful, according to new figures. Of more than 10,000 drivers who were banned from driving last year, 2830 launched an appeal. The disqualification completely quashed in 531 cases and reduced to a fine in 458 cases. The original decision was upheld in 179 cases, while 123 cases were struck out due to no appearance and 188 cases were withdrawn. Susan Gray, chairperson of road safety group PARC said: “There needs to be transparency as to why these drivers were successful in their appeals.

Keeping dangerous drivers off our roads is a shared responsibility of the Road safety Authority (RSA), transport, Gardai and the courts. Surely this will be a red flag to these agencies as it’s a huge road safety issue”.


Garda HQ Crash

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has been challenged to clarify the details of a car crash at Garda HQ following conflicting reports about the incident. An unmarked Police Service Northern Ireland (PSNI) carrying Mr. Harris as a passenger was damaged after striking a bollard as it attempted to enter Garda HQ at the Phoenix Park on 25 March last. The Garda Commissioner, a former deputy constable of the PSNI, was travelling back to Dublin from Belfast at the time. It appears an emergency bollard was triggered by Gardai because they saw an unmarked vehicle with a NI registration plate driving towards the security barriers at speed. However, sources said that a malfunction was to blame and the damage to the vehicle was very minor. Gardai and the PSNI issued short statements on 7 April which denied that standard procedures were not followed. Questions were asked as why the Commissioner did not change between PSNI and Garda vehicles at the border, as is “standard procedure”.


Driving Test Fees

Categories Am, A1, A2, AB, Be and W = €85.00

Categories C, C1, D and D2 = €120.00

Categories CE, C1E, DE and D1E = €120.00

CPC Driving test (Bus and Truck category) = €152. 00

(Part 1 = €150.00 and part 2 = €32.00)

‘Speed Marathon’

The 24-hour ‘Speed Marathon’ was organized by TISPOL – the European Traffic Police Network. The week-long campaign of enforcement (1-7 April) was aimed to help drivers ‘think about the speed they choose’. The ‘Speed Marathon’ concept which was devised in Germany six years ago sees police forces target locations where the public believe speeding is a problem. The 2018 event saw officers across Europe check more than 3.2 million vehicles – detecting 257,397 offences. Paolo Cestra TISPOL president said: “The operation is about getting into the minds of drivers, not their purses”.


Equine Accidents

Nearly 3 in 4 incidents involving horses on UK roads occur to drivers failing to leave enough space when passing. Statistics published by the British Horse Society (BHS) show that in the year ending 28 February 2019, 87 horses and four people were killed on UK roads. In total, 845 incidents involving horses on the road were reported to the BHS over the 12-month period- a year-on-year rise of 109pc. Of these, 73pc occurred due to vehicles passing too closely. Alex Hiscox, director of safety at BHS said: that only 10pc of accidents are reported to us, therefore, these figures are only the tip of the iceberg”. “The inclusion of horse incident statistics from Dartmoor and the New Forest allow us to have a much better understanding of the rate of incidents involving ponies and horses grazing on open land. The dramatic in incidents is of huge concern, but we are aware that only 10pc of accidents are reported to us, therefore, these figures are only the tip of the iceberg”.

Comment. It is not just horses who will be injured or killed in road accidents but also riders and car occupants. Depending on age of horse or pony the weight can be up to approx 500kg therefore, damage to vehicles can be substantial. If intending to pass horses, slow down to about 15kmh, avoid using the horn or revving the engine, give the horse and rider plenty of clearance and drive away slowly. Horses by their very nature can be very unpredictable, so always be cautious when near them.


Insurance Fraud Costing Jobs

Former High Court President Nicholas Kearns has expressed frustration at the slow pace of insurance reform, saying the country risks reputational damage if the claims culture is not tackled. He is baffled that a dedicated Garda unit has not been set up to prosecute fraudsters, and called on insurers to publicly commit to reducing premiums if award levels do come down.

Mr. Justice Kearns headed up the Personal Injuries Commission, which found that awards for minor injuries in this country are almost five times those paid in England. “It is staggering”, he said of award levels, in a hard-hitting speech that also criticized lawyers. His report has recommended that judges be tasked with recalibrating award levels. Mr. Kearns said of the slow pace of insurance reforms: “Those in a position to do something about the current difficulties must finally get up and do something about it”. Speaking in relation to job losses Mr. Kearns said:

“If the alternative is that businesses continue under at an ever-increasing rate, throwing people out of work and diminishing Ireland’s reputation as a place where business can flourish in a post-Brexit world, the those considerations will have to be factored in to any balancing of rights and interests in any constitutional evaluation”.


Driving & Cannabis OK

Motorists caught driving after consuming cannabis will no longer face having their driver’s licenses immediately revoked in Germany. A federal court in Leipzig ruled that the licencing authority must now first determine whether the marijuana user was fit to drive with a medical evaluation, daily newspaper ‘Deutsche Welle’ reported. German law stated that a driver’s licence could be revoked if they could not drive due to consumption of alcohol or other drugs, and those caught with one nanogram per milliliter of THC in their bloodstream faced the instant loss of their licence. In 2015, a group of experts proposed to increase the limit to three nanograms per milliliter, because THC can remain in the bloodstream days after a person consumes cannabis. But the Leipzig court ruled the limit should stay the same.


Easter Campaign

Gardai mounted the biggest Easter road safety campaign in recent years after an alarming increase in traffic fatalities – up 11pc on 2018. There has also been a startling 24pc hike in the number of drivers caught using their mobile phone while driving, with 5,000 motorists detected in January and February. Transport Minister Shane Ross described the statistics as “shocking”. A total of 50 people have died on Irish roads since January 1, compared to 45 over the same period in 2018, an increase of 11pc. Gardai and the Road Safety Authority (RSA) launched the Easter Bank Holiday weekend road safety campaign on 17 April with the focus on speeding and motorists who still insist on using their phones while driving


Novel “Crash for “Cash

The ‘Crash for Cash’ epidemic took another turn recently when a man threw himself in front of a car and then claimed damages against the driver have been jailed for a year. The man – originally from Lagos – admitted making a false statement at Clondalkin (Dublin) Garda station intending to show that another person had committed a driving offence. The court heard the plaintiff collapsed in front of a woman’s car as she waited to exit a car park, and then falsely claimed she had hit him while talking on her mobile phone. Passing sentence, the judge condemned the plaintiff’s “premeditated behavior” which she said caused the victim “significant distress and upset” and made her life a misery “up until his guilty plea”. The plaintiff was sentenced to 16 months in prison but the final four months was suspended on condition that he keeps the peace for four months after his release.


Classic Ferrari Goes Electric

The 600bhp Classic 1980a Ferrari sports car is the brainchild of Co. Cork man Norman Crowley who also promises to have an unique, first ‘Irish supercar’ on the market in 2020. His company, Electriffi was launched recently, with the aim of developing a range of electric classic cars. We can expect to see anything from a Porsche 911 to a Volkswagen beetle to a Fiat 500 being driven by battery power. As well as re-constituting old motors, they are building classics, such as the immortal Jaguar E-Type, from the ground up – and packing in 21st technology such as digital dashboards and power steering in the process. Clearly, this is a blend of the past and future. The Ferrarai has a range of about 160km – though not the sort of speed it can do while recharging is simple and straightforward.


In Brief …


“Beggared Belief”

Road traffic police were so surprised by a speed clocked by a motorist in Co. Carlow that they said it “beggared belief”. The motorist was caught driving at almost 100kmh over the speed limit. Instead of adhering to the 120kmh speed limit (motorway), the car whizzed past a Garda speed check at the lightening speed of 212kmh. The incident happened on the M9 motorway which links the south-east of the country to Dublin. The driver was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving, was charged and is to appear before Carlow District Court on 17 April 2019.


Officer “Blew it”

A police officer is facing an internal investigation after turning up to a breathalyzer training class while drunk. The officer volunteered to take part in a demonstration of the technology, which showed his blood alcohol content was 80mg per 100ml.

However, the officer – based in the US city of Detroit – was not disciplined at the time because he was not armed nor had he driven to the class. Detroit Police Chief James Craig said: “The bottom line is that he showed up to work under the influence of alcohol. Certainly, that’s a problem, it’s a problem for me, and it may be a problem on how it was handled after that”.


Mom’s Punishment to Son

A mother who ran over her young son when he refused to go to school, causing him serious brain injury has been sentenced to 30 days in jail. The woman who ran over her nine-year old while dropping him of at school in Belmont, Michigan – told a judge she will have to “live with this for the rest of my life”. The mother pleaded to reckless driving causing serious impairment, but a charge of second-degree child abuse was dismissed in a plea agreement. The Kent County Court judge said her actions were “simply inexcusable” and sentenced her to six months in jail, however all but 30 days were suspended.


Now Mom to the Rescue?

Police have come up with a novel ‘weapon’ in the battle against speeding. Officers in a US town are attempting to tackle the issue with a roadside sign that reads: “Slow down or we’ll call your Mom”. Haymarket Police Department wrote: “We have been receiving many laughs and compliments on our massage board in town”. As well as enjoying the humour of the signs, police hope motorists in the Virginia town will also take the message seriously. (Hopefully, she won’t dish out the same treatment as the above Mom in Michigan Ed)


Test-Cheating Software

Daimler has denied that it removed emission test-cheating software from a range of Mercedes GLK 220 CDI diesel models, highlighting the German car industry’s legal struggle over diesel exhaust manipulation since Volkswagen was caught using illegal devices in 2015. Germany’s ‘Bild’ newspaper reported that the KBA German Federal Motor Transport Authority detected a software function in the compact SUVs OM 651 engine in autumn 2018 and that suspicions of software cheating were later confirmed. The function was quietly removed during software updates, the newspaper said.

In denying the report, Daimler said it was working with the authorities in a formal hearing initated by the KBA in April. As many as 60,000 vehicles could be affected according to the newspaper ‘Bild’.


The Carnage Continues …

There were 55 road fatalities up to 2 May 2019 as opposed to 53 to the same time in 2018.


And Finally …

The problem with drink driving is the ‘mourning’ after.

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