On Saturday 2006-10-21, two cars were crashed into one another in Co. Monaghan. Five people died as a direct result. This unusually-bad fatal crash provoked much comment about Irish driving standards, and the peculiar reticence of reporting of car crashes in the Irish media.
The reporting of motor vehicle crime by Irish media is uniquely euphemistic.
Drivers do not swerve off the road — instead, cars
leave the road.
Drivers do not crash their cars — the cars themselves become
involved in a collision.
In particular, drivers do not kill or cause serious injury — instead, the victims are reported to have
lost their lives following an accident.
When the driver in question survives, this coyness in reporting could be put down to fear of litigation from a driver who escapes conviction. It's more baffling when the driver has killed himself or herself, and isn't around to sue. We then hear nothing but expressions of sympathy for the families (heartfelt but irrelevant to the road-safety issue) and some frustrating generalizations about young drivers, speeding, and drink-driving.
If reporting of aviation disasters was as circumspect as reporting of motoring disasters, aviation would be as dangerous as Irish roads. Aviation safety is hugely improved by the policy of openness in investigation of accidents. Conversely, road safety is damaged by the policy of reporting car crimes as if they were tragic accidents, and not crimes.
Sadly, there is no possibility that the traffic law will be enforced, because there's an election coming, and too many people want to commit car crimes in this country. They have convinced themselves through a process of cognitive dissonance that the traffic laws they break are unjust, and that their crimes are not actually wrong. In fact, they have simply become used to doing what other drivers have bullied them into doing — driving faster and everywhere. This is a battle that political parties dare not fight, when there are so many people who view driving home from the pub as a basic civil right, and Ministers of the Government are happy to drink and drive, and to drive (or be driven) at illegal speeds.
If we can't even talk about the personal, criminal responsibility of drivers who kill, how can we possibly hope to reduce dangerous driving in our country?