Road Safety Ireland – January 2016

Christmas Road Carnage

A father of six and a young mother of twins were among the fatalities of a weekend of Christmas carnage on Irish roads. A seven-year-old schoolboy and two teens were also among the six dead during what road safety chiefs described as a “dreadful 48 hours” since Christmas morning. Appealing to motorists to be extra-vigilant as the New Year approaches, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) warned drivers may be lulled into a false sense of security as they drive on local roads close to their homes. In the last fortnight of 2015 – 20 people lost their lives on our roads.
Some 165 people were killed on Ireland’s roads during 2015 – a fall of 28 on the previous year. Although the figure marks a 15pc drop and is the second lowest since records began in 1959, last month was the worst December for road deaths since 2007. Road Safety Authority (RSA) Chairwoman Liz O’Donnell said: “It’s difficult to describe 2015 as a success when 165 people lost their lives on the roads, and especially after the carnage we witnessed in the final weeks of the year”. An analysis by the RSA of road fatalities for the first 10 months of 2015 showed there were more deaths among 16-25 and 56-65 categories, compared to the same period in 2014.
Note. Almost 40,000 people have been killed on Irish roads since records began. A total of 38,519 people have died on the roads on both sides of the border – 23,752 in the South and 14,767 in Northern Ireland.

Comparison of ADI Passes (RSA & DVSA)

The following table sets out the results of RSA ADI exam results from 2010 – 2014. (rsa.ie)
2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Stage 1 Theory test ————— 74% 73% 73% 73% 73%
Stage 2 Practical driving tests — 75% 74% 73% 73% 73%
Stage 3 Practical teaching test — 80% 78% 79% 78% 78%
DVSA Provisional Figures to Dec. 2015
Theory test ————–57%
Part 2 ———————56.1%
Part 3 ———————33.7%
It is interesting to note the significant discrepancies between both Part 3s. Is the RSA Part 3–average 78.6% over five years – judged against a different set criterion or is the DVSA Part 3 set at a much more demanding standard or are there other reasons for the variations?

Seatbelt Safety – GB 50 Years – Ireland 45 Years

It is now 50 years (1966) since seatbelt fittings were made compulsory in all new cars in Great Britain. Use of a restraint by drivers and front seat passengers in cars was made compulsory in January 1983. I a 2009 survey, 95% of drivers; 95% of front seat passengers and 88% of rear seat passengers wore seat belts. The compliance by drivers of other vehicles was 69%.The most recent law on the use of seatbelts and child restraints applicable in Ireland is the EC Compulsory Use of Seatbelts and Child Restraint Systems in Motor Vehicles Regulations (2006) (SI. No. 240 of 2006). Statistics show that the wearing of seatbelts saves lives. In Ireland, from 1971, all drivers and anyone occupying a forward facing seat in any car must wear a safety belt or an appropriate child restraint unless they are an exempted person. There are, of course, the libertarian views that “If I want to risk killing or injuring myself, that’s my business”, or “What if I’m trapped in a sinking car or the car goes on fire” – there are other objections – are proffered. Irish statistics show that wearing seatbelts reduce the risk of death or serious injury by as much as 50 per cent and also 80 lives could be saved annually, if full use of front seatbelts were made. An observational study by the RSA in 2013 found that among 20,000 car users, compliance rates were high with 94% of drivers; 93% of front seat passengers and 89% of rear passengers wearing their seat belts. Non-wearing of seatbelts attracts two penalty points and a €60 fine. Going to court could cost you more with four penalty points and €90 fine.

High Motor Insurance

Motor insurance premiums rocketed in 2015- up by around 30pc in the past 12 months. Insurers have been trying to reverse losses after years of underpricing its motor policies and failing to put aside sufficient reserves to meet a rising level of claims. The sector has been hit with more frequent claims and higher court awards. At present, the Department of Finance is reviewing insurance premiums – in particular motor insurance – to question the increases in detail. Premium increases in 2015 were more than enough to match losses incurred by insurers, according to Coverinaclick.ie. Managing Director, Jonathan Hehir said: “As we enter 2016, we firmly believe that, unless there’s a further shock to the market such as a higher number of crashes or increased personal injury awards, there shouldn’t be any further increases, so premiums should remain flat in 2016. The increases to date must be regarded as ‘full and final’ hikes”.

DeLorean Comeback

The DeLorean DMC-12 car, made famous in the ‘Back to the Future’
Trilogy is set to literally come back to the future. The car has been out of production for 34 years but is set to be brought from the dead – although without a flux capacitor. Around 9,000 of the gull-winged cars were sold during their original run and there is thought to be about 6,500 still in existence. Production of the iconic motor took place in Northern Ireland between 1981 and 1982. The DeLorean Motor Company is planning to build about four cars a month, according to CEO, Stephen Wynne and will cost around $100,000 when they go on sale in 2017.

Volkswagen to be Sued?

An Irish law firm representing 18 Volkswagen owners is suing the car maker for millions of Euro in damages over the emission scandal. It wants Volkswagen to take back the cars, fully reimburse the owners and pay them exemplary damages for misleading them on the NOx emissions. In what is believed to be the first major case of its kind the Dublin based solicitors will lodge the papers in the High Court next month. The core of the case against Volkswagen is that because the cars did not do what the company claimed on emissions there was effectively no contract with the customers. On that basis they want the cars taken back and the money refunded in full to the buyers. They are also looking for a declaration from the High Court that Volkswagen AC acted in a fraudulent manner. And they want “aggravated and exemplary” damages to punish the company for the deceit against the owners. It is understood that the law firm is preparing at least another 40 cases.
Note. At common law the basic remedy is one of damages, that is, a payment of a sum of money to compensate for any losses incurred. Aggravated damages are awarded by a court to reflect the exceptional harm done to a plaintiff of a tort action. They are an award or an augmentation of an award, of compensating damages for non-pecuniary losses. They are designed to compensate the plaintiff, and are measured by the plaintiffs suffering. Exemplary damages are often called punitive damages. These damages requested/awarded in a lawsuit where the defendant’s actions were malicious, oppressive, fraudulent or grossly reckless and are designed to punish the defendant and deter bad conduct. Although often requested, exemplary damages are seldom awarded.

New Car Sales Up

New car sales have risen to 33.6pc in January compared to the same time last year, with 39,812 new 161 registrations. Hyundai finished the month as the best –selling brand with 5,062 cars, ahead of Toyota with 4, 852. Ford took third place with 4,383, but VW has slipped down to fourth place with 3,748.

D/L Exchange Agreement

A mutual exchange agreement of driving licences has been signed into law between Ireland and Newfoundland/Labrador on 15 January 2016. This agreement follows on from previous agreements made with Ontario (2014) and Manitoba (2015). Over recent years, significant numbers of Irish people have moved to work in Canada and this recent agreement will benefit them greatly.

AIRSO Chief Steps Down

After 25 years leading the Association of Industrial Road Safety Officers (AIRSO) as its Secretary, Graham Feest – himself a road safety consultant – is moving on from the role in order to pursue other interests which are still road safety related. He is currently Chairman of the National Road Safety Committee, Chairman of the Institute of Master Tutors of Driving (IMTD) and road safety advisor to the Approved Driving Instructor National Joint Council (ADI NJC).Graham has other business interests including a single online source that offers a fast direct route into many aspects of construction and highways.
We offer Graham our best wishes in his future endeavors.

Higher Insurance

More than one-third of motorists have seen the cost of the vehicle insurance rise by up to 50pc in 2015. This has prompted thousands of drivers to reduce their level of insurance cover in an attempt to manage costs, says the AA. A rise of this amount means that someone paying €500 last year is now being quoted €750.And the AA has warned that premiums for the State’s two million drivers are set to continue to rise into 2016rms are put in place by insurers and the Government. An AA motor insurance survey of over 5,000 motorists reveal that 34pc have seen their insurance premiums rise by between 20pc and 50pc when compared to 2014. Fraudulent activity, high legal and claims costs, poorly resourced regulation, low levels of enforcement and a lack of industry transparency have cost motorists dearly according to the AA. The survey comes as a shareholder meeting of insurer FBD heard accusations that the loss-making firm had “a culture similar to the Irish Farmers Association”. [1]

The Carnage Continues …

Sixteen people have died on our roads up to 9.00am 1 February 2016 – this is two more than to the same time in 2015.

Smoking in Cars

New laws making it an offence to smoke in any car carrying children came into effect on 1 January 2016. If caught, offenders face a fixed fine of €100. ASH Ireland has encouraged people to give up smoking today (1/1/2016) claiming that 100 people die each week in Ireland as a result of smoking.

Road Repairs

The annual road death toll soared to 162 (27 December 2015) as it emerged almost half of the country’s busiest roads are in need of urgent repairs, with some in such poor condition they are officially classed as “virtually undriveable”. Almost 13,000 – or 13pc of the network – suffer from “structural distress” ranging from extensive potholes to disintegrating surfaces, an analysis of local authority roads show. And 5pc of the regional road network which carries around all 30pc of all traffic is effectively falling apart.
The Department of Transport has said there is a backlog of works needed across the network which could cost up to €3bn to complete, though this figure could rise even higher because not all roads were surveyed.

NCT- €30k Comp.

The operator of the National Car Testing centres has been criticized for conducting a “sham investigation” into the complaints of an employee who threatened to expose regular breaches of the company’s rules at one of its centres in Cork. Applus car testing Service, which operates the NCT on behalf of the Road Safety Authority (RSA), has been ordered to pay €30,000 in compensation for the unfair dismissal of the employee. The Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) rejected evidence by senior managers at Applus that staff were not encouraged to bring cars for testing to fill vacant slots at its centre in Little island, Cork. A former administrator at the centre was fired for gross misconduct in November 2012 after he admitted driving cars that were not his own to the centre, for testing – in breach of the company’s code of integrity.

Drink Driving and “Auto-brewery Syndrome”

A woman in America has escaped a drink-driving charge because she suffers from a rare condition known as “auto-brewery syndrome”. The drink-driving charge was dismissed based on an unusual defense: her body is a brewery. The woman who was more than four times the legal limit discovered the rare condition called “auto-brewery syndrome”. This digestive condition converts ordinary food into alcohol, according to her lawyer. A judge dismissed the drink-drive charge in December after her lawyer presented medical research showing the woman had a previously undiagnosed condition in which yeast in her intestine s fermented carbohydrate into alcohol.
The rare condition, also known as gut fermentation syndrome, was first documented in the 1970s in Japan, and medical and legal experts in the US say it is being used more frequently in drink-driving cases. The ‘Buffalo News’ described the woman as a 35-year-old school teacher, and quoted the arresting officer as saying she had bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and failed several field sobriety tests.

In Brief …

Faster Buses
Dublin Bus is to roll out its automated vehicle location technology system on all buses after a pilot project showed it cut travelling times through junctions by up to 41pc. The system will be extended to all bus corridors in the Greater Dublin area during 2016. The technology analyses congestion in particular areas and gives green light priority to buses at certain junctions.

Self-parking Car
Some Tesla motor vehicles will be able to park themselves without a driver inside with software update beamed to customers. Owners must line up their vehicle within 33 feet of the space they want to drive into or back into. The owner can then stand within 10 feet and park the car automatically using the key fob. The car can also exit the spot when the driver summons it with the fob.

Dublin – Bike – Friendly?
Dublin’s inclusion on a list of the most bike-friendly cities in the world “paints too rosy a picture” according to cycling campaigner Mike McKillen of the Dublin Cycling Campaign. He disputed the capital’s place among such bike-friendly cities such as Copenhagen and Amsterdam, saying cycling is still fairly dangerous and there aren’t enough segregated cycle lanes. Dublin came 15th on the so called Copenhagenize Index” compiled by a Danish organization. That’s four places lower than last year, but Mr. McKillen said that his group doesn’t think the city’s inclusion is justified.

Lock Your Car
Up to €21k in property and cash is stolen from parked cars in Ireland every day, new crime figures show. And the festive season is the busiest time for robbers who specialize in breaking into parked cars. The latest Garda statistics indicate that €6.6m in property was taken over the past 12 months from unlocked vehicles. A further €1m in cash was taken during the same thefts. On average, €21k is stolen from Irish cars every day – and each robbery involves roughly €220 worth of cash and property being taken.
Incredibly, 25pc of cars left parked outside Irish homes are unlocked. About 50pc of all thefts occur on Friday and Saturday nights.

It’s ‘Snow’ Way to Drive
An 80-year-old man has been charged after driving a car that was almost completely covered in snow. , with only a small portion of the windscreen on the driver’s side cleared.
Canadian police spotted a car resembling a pile of snow on the road in Brussels, Ontario. The man was charged with having an obstructed view. Police said the man claimed he was too old and weak to brush it off and he was just going for a short drive. The officer cleared the snow from the man’s car and let him on his way.

Ghost Passengers
Taxi drivers working in towns in northwest Japan that was devastated in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami are reporting picking up ‘ghost passengers’. At least seven drivers in the coastal town of Ishinomaki, where nearly 6,000 people died after it was battered by the tsunami, claimed to have encountered phantom fares. The men were among more than 100 drivers interviewed by Yuka Kudo, a student of sociology at Tohoku Gakuin University, as part of her graduation thesis.

Monkey Driver
A snoozing bus driver in Uttar Pradesh was somewhat surprised when he woke up to find a monkey had started his vehicle and was driving. The monkey driver still had a bit to learn as he crashed into two vehicles, but apart from that, the journey went without a hitch.

Pile-up Near Cairo
At least 21 people were killed and 16 injured in a massive multi-car pile-up on a road south of Egypt’s capital. Fog and excessive speed led to the massive crash near Beni Suef, about 95kms south of Cairo. The road was closed for three hours.
And finally … Driver told police officer: “I was holding a stapler to my ear, not a phone”.

[1] This refers to the recent scandal of excessive salaries and ‘golden handshakes’ given to past presidents of the Irish Farming Association.

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