As part of Damien Blakes efforts to highlight the problem of road deaths I created this post back in October. The event that prompted this was the deaths of five young men in Monaghan in a head on collision.
Let us start with some facts. At the inquest held this past week we were told that both drivers involved were substantially over the alcohol limit, were driving at speeds which would not have been appropriate during daylight not to mind 2am at night and at least one of the drivers didn’t have his seatbelt on.
Pathologist Dr John Ryan said that Ciarán Hagan had a blood-alcohol level of 201mgs per 100ml and a urine-alcohol level of 253mgs. He was driving alone in his Blue Golf, and it was he that crossed the road, he was doing 100km per at 2am on a road that allows for 80km maximum during daylight.
Dermot Thornton had a blood-alcohol of 147mgs per cent and urine-alcohol level of 196mgs per cent. He was driving the Red Golf at 125 km with the 3 passengers on a road that allows for 80km during the daylight. The blood and urine levels of both drivers would indicate that both had what is euphemistically “a good bit to drink”.
No one has said as much but it is plain that since one of the cars crossed over the median of the road to travel in the opposite at speed towards the other car that both drivers were engaged in reckless and irresponsible behaviour by speeding and driving while drunk. Whether both or one of them was playing "chicken" according to what it is generally understand to be chicken doesn't matter. They could have been blindfolded and naked, playing the banjo for all the difference it makes. They were hammered and driving dangerously at night. 201mg for 100ml of blood is blind fucking drunk in anyone's language.
I appreciate that this is a terrible loss for the families and friends of those concerned. Yet, we do everyone a disservice if we allow that to blind us to the wrongness of their behaviour. Imagine for moment that these two cars had not met each other but instead if they had each individually encountered some stone cold sober couple with their children in their car returning from a wedding. Those would be the innocents not either of these two drivers.
We will change no one's behaviour while we persist in honouring the dead who did not die with honour. We have as a nation a terrible tendency to view such deaths as if they were something that had simply come upon the people concerned. These lads were not struck down by a terrible disease. They were their own victims. The Japanese as a nation have a similarly self evidently stupid attitude to WWII acting as if it was some awful thing that happened and which they were simply innocent bystanders in instead of something they had been active participants involved in.
If it was a member of my family I would be angry with them for being so fucking stupid. I wouldn’t love them any less but I would be angry and disappointed with them and I would not seek to defend what they had done.
Some would say that the rest of us should try to do something so that their deaths might not be in vain. We can’t do that. Their deaths were in vain, will always be in vain and nothing anyone does can change that. They did not intend to die but they did know what they were doing and their deaths are a waste. And people who waste are…. We should not seek to honour them. We should have sympathy for the families but not for the men themselves. It is vanity and self indulgence that led to these deaths. At the time of the crash many said that we should not be so quick to pass judgement. Well, now we’ve had the inquest where are the apologies for attacking those who pointed out what was reckless and dangerous behaviour?
Did they deserve to die? No. However, they did not deserve to kill anyone else either. It would not be right to say they killed themselves but it would seem correct to say that they killed each other. If society has any blame in this it is the local society that they were apart of that glorifies racing about the place at speed. And this has nothing to do with rallying or loving cars. The Scots and Scandinavians have strong rallying traditions and nowhere near our level of road deaths perhaps because they have the cop on or respect for the lives of others to know not to drive as these lads did on a public road.
We as a nation need to think more about the lives we can still save rather than those that are gone. We can't simply leave people alone in their grief while those who continue to drive as these young men did are killing people up and down the country. These young men may have loved life but they evidently had little respect for the lives of others.
If they chose to buy some land and race about on it and end up killing themselves then it would be one thing. However, when you behave as they did on a public road then don't expect me to weep for your passing.
It was noted that the deceased had all been loved by their families, neighbours and friends and that their deaths had left a huge void in the community. I can understand your friends and family missing you but truth be told I’m not sure why anyone else should. Or why we should be expected to mourn the loss of people we never knew. When you really love someone you know they have faults but love them anyway, to try and hide such faults when they have contributed to their own deaths is truly to do a service to the dead.
We’ve had the inquest and the relative silence of the press has been deafening. Where is the strong media focus now that we do know the factors involved in this shameful lose of life? The reason for highlighting the reckless behaviour at the time is the chance we might have the most effect on those who might do the same. It is far too late once the sudden horror has passed. Not much point in seeing Charlie Bird on the roadside or getting the big Sunday paper coverage now.