Sunday, October 07, 2007

Country road..take me home!

Goodbye Mountain!
Originally uploaded by John of Dublin.

Dublin's M50 orbital motorway encloses a warm womb within which I am nurtured. Inside these castle walls I am spoiled with good straight roads, lights at night, slow traffic and low speed limits. Considering the volume of cars, bad car crashes are infrequent and fatalities very rare. I drive down straight wide roads where speed limits of 50kph are enforced with vigour and I feel I am driving at pedestrian pace.

I venture outside the safe womb on to secondary country roads and the feeling changes. Winding narrow roads, blind bends, pitch dark at night. But the speed limit says 80kph or even 100kph. I barely feel safe doing 50kph winding these roads. A representative and well known example to many on the eastern side of Ireland is the very winding road by the river leading from Enniskerry village in Wicklow to the N11 dual carriageway near Bray. Technically it is feasible to weave enthusiastically down this rally driver's paradise at the designated 80kph speed limit. But by golly it is not a safe exercise. If anything unusual happens you are a goner. And of course speed checks never seem to happen on such roads...ironically the police probably feel it too dangerous to attempt.

Something is seriously wrong with this logic. Predictably, most of the almost daily rituals of road deaths seem to be on secondary country roads. Very often it is a single vehicle accident where the driver crashes into a tree or goes off the road at a bend. Young drivers probably feel like wimps if they can't keep up with the message on the ridiculous speed limit signs.

It would seem to me like a no-brainer decision to reduce the speed limit on secondary country roads and enforce it properly.


Anonymous said...

You know, I've always wondered if Ireland is the looking glass version of another country, some of this stuff is beggar's belief!

Mind you, when I got my first car, the 20 bends road you mentioned in Enniskerry was one of my favourites to practice driving on. It's very difficult to spin or roll a Rover Metro!

John of Dublin said...

Hi K8 and thanks for the comments.

Most of my country trips are on the main routes which are mainly good quality. The winding B-roads are the scariest and I'll guess that statistics would indicate that these are where most of the deaths and bad accidents are.