Thursday, March 29, 2007

More on the N7

I was struck by the comments in the Indo today from Evelyn Moles on the death of her sister Kate in the pile up on the N7. While she pleads with other motorists to slow and drive appropriate to the conditions in future, she is then quoted saying her sister's death could have been avoided if appropriate systems and signage were in place. It may be the paper putting words in her mouth. Full paragraph below.

"Evelyn said Kate's death could have been avoided if appropriate systems and signage had been put in place on our roads. "The Government and individual TDs need to show some leadership and put the proper systems in place that will help put an end to tragedies like this affecting families again and again.""

I'm not sure that signage was going to prevent this accident from happening. I agree that our motorway and dual carriageway system is lacking in the signage that you would find in most other European countries, but all the signs in world can't force you to ease the foot off the accelerator. Sad truth is if you hit something from the rear, cruel as it may be, you are deemed to have been at fault unless you were yourself rear ended. It seems from the early reports that pretty much everyone was going faster than they should have been on the N7 and were too close to the vehicles in front. Meaning they didn't give themselves time to react to what occurred in front of them.

As things on the road that you may come across go a fire engine is probably the brightest and loudest. If you hit a fire engine from the rear then you were almost certainly going too fast for the conditions. It is a horrible, sad waste of a young life and all the more sad for the fact that it would never have happened if she (along with everyone else) had been going that bit slower as the road conditions required on the day. I'm sure we'll see the usual lack of attention from the media when the inquests are held and the full details come out.


Bock the Robber said...

Standard procedure at RTAs is to position the fire engine in the "fend-off" position, so that the side of the truck is at an angle to the traffic.

This is intended to reduce the chances of a full-on impact as it tends to deflect a moving vehicle rather than stop it in its tracks.

The Busy Engineer said...

I saw her sister on the news last night and she and her family are very understanibly distrought. It's a miracle no-one else was killed. That person in the car that the cement truck rolled on top of was very lucky.
Of course you are correct about the speeding and the rearending. You are held entirely to blame if you crash into something from behind. One should be travelling at a distance from the vehicle in front where you are able to stop safely. Unfortunately in Fog that distance is so far that the vehicle is out of site in the fog. This is where reducing speed comes in. But of course if trafic is heavy and if you're late etc everyone drives too close together and in this case there was a tragic result.
If there had been motorway signs to indicate an accident ahead would she have been able to slow down in time. Perhaps so but it's probably unlikely as the fog was so thick that one would not have been able to read any signs at speed. And if you didn't see a bright red fire engine with flashing lights and siren then you're unlikely to see a sign indicating an accident. Also these things happen quite fast and signage takes time to catch up.
This sort of thing will happen again. Unfortunately Irish people show on our roads everyday a lack of due care and atttention and a lack of an ability or perhaps willingness to drive correctly and responsibly. Accidents are not tradgedies. The tradgedy is the fact that "accidents" continue to happen.

Now that we are rolling out a series of shiny new motorways perhaps we should take the Autobahn model and have gantries every Kilometer which can display a speed limit appropriate to the conditions, be it fog roadworks etc. This way speed limits can be dynamically allocated to sections of motorway with speed cameras on the gantrys for enforcement because Irish people can't be TRUSTED to obey the limits especially in Fog or rain when they know there'll be no garda speed checks.

Dan Sullivan said...

Bock, my understanding is the fire engine was in motion on the way to one of the accidents.

The thing is that we're not really talking about driving fast or speeding in sense of going very quickly, rather it is faster than is appropriate for the conditions. Those new public road education ads on the telly are long overdue and I've only seen the one on driving too close to the car in front in the last month or two. Those should be on all the time. We had a period of a decade or more with no telly ads about driving behaviour.

I agree we should look into the autobahn gantry style, with signs and cameras.