Rearing children to be sacrificed on our killing fields

While you are reading this and seeing the mere words that lie on this page, several families in Kerry are going through an unimaginable grief. They are numbed by the events of yesterday morning; they are shivering and shaking as their bodies try to absorb the enormity of it all; the hugs and handshakes meaning little as they nod in an automated response; the realisation that after rearing children from the cot to the threshold of their own independence, that all they had hoped for their children has been taken away from them.

The families of Ireland are sick and tired of rearing children to be sacrificed on the killings fields that are our roads. Too many hearses have made slow, thoughtful, journeys, because other vehicles did not. Too many siblings are pictured tear-filled, shocked that their brother/sister has been taken away from them, disrupting the natural order of human mortality. Too many school photographs and sports team photographs from this decade will include people who did not live to make it through to minor or senior.

The young people of Ireland are in shock that each year hundreds of them are killed or injured through poor driving and poor driving knowledge, that there are gaps in their generation that will never be filled. They are forced to grow up with a hardness that should not be thrust upon them. And who is to blame?

Well, we all are in a way, because we have not insisted that standards in driving education be made more stringent, that the right to navigate a ton of metal around our streets and roads is a privilege and not a right to be abused; that respect for the roads and their capacity to kill and maim should be sacrosanct and not laissez faire to favour protected interests of those would have us drive drunk and would have us drive recklessly and faster than our roads and vehicles are built for.

Driving is increasingly an essential life skill in Ireland, yet it is not given the time, respect, the education that it deserves and as long as that continues, all of us will drive with less care and more speed than should be expected. There are elements in this country that will refuse to acknowledge this and will even campaign that we be allowed to have more alcohol in our bloodstream when we drive, which is symptomatic of the state we are in when it comes to respecting the roads.

And if people speak out about those who disrespect the roads, they are shouted down by the vintners and the protectors of the petrolhead generation.

The Killing Fields are on tour and they will be coming soon to a parish near you, to a road near you. No part of this island can expect to go untouched by the cloak of death that envelopes our roads network. In the past few years in Galway alone, we have seen dozens die for inexplicable reasons, unforced errors in the game of life.

Our hearts go out to the families in Kerry; their happiness is forever restrained. How many more will become them before we accept the human element that is killing the best young people this country ever had?

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