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Causes of collisions

Every day, drivers die in road collisions.

Many die as a consequence of inexperience, speeding intoxication through drink or drugs or just plain recklessness.


Causes of collisions

The majority of road crashes are caused by human error.  Research has shown that driver error accounts for over 80% of all fatal and injury crashes  on Irish roads 

The main causes of death and injury on Irish roads remain speeding, drink driving and non-wearing of seat-belts . 

Because most traffic accidents are the product of several factors, the probability of accidents can be reduced in a number of different ways. There is no doubt that the following activities have prevented the increase in accidents that would normally result from increases in traffic density. There are three main approaches to preventing accidents:

  1. Education and training of (a) children in school by road-traffic instructors and school teachers; and of (b) adolescents in the principles of safe driving and in good driving attitudes; by (c) refresher courses for older drivers to bring home safe-driving principles and to refresh their knowledge of traffic law; and by means of (d) newspaper, radio television, and other publicity, to draw the attention of all road users both to dangers and to safe practices on the road.
  2. Enforcement by (a) adopting reasonable and enforceable traffic laws which, at the same time, are best designed to prevent accidents; (b) concentrating the time and energy of traffic officers on the offences, locations, and times that feature frequently in accidents; and (c) thoroughly testing new drivers to ensure they will not be liable to cause accidents.
  3. Engineering of vehicles and roads: Vehicle engineering, comprising (a) regular inspection for a “warrant of fitness” to ensure that the main components of the vehicle are safe; (b) improving the design of the vehicle to give ease of vision and control to the driver and so reduce the likelihood of injury in an accident; (c) fitting safety equipment, such as seat belts.

Road or traffic engineering comprises (a) the design of new roads which are inherently safe (separating opposing traffic flows, eliminating cross traffic, and providing wide shoulders and traffic lanes and good visibility); (b) Improving existing roads by realignment, improving vision, and resurfacing slippery surfaces; (c) Regulating traffic movement by installing traffic signals, traffic islands, road markings, and regulatory signs such as “stop” and “give way” signs; and (d) assisting the driver with warning and destination signs to avoid danger and confusion.

Below you will find more information on one of  the general causes of accidents on our roads.

Bad driving habits and road safety

There are number of things that other drivers do that can be extremely irritating and danagerous.  Bad Tailgating, poor lane discipline, not indicating and undertaking are just a few of the bad habits that frequently and are very annoying.  Aside from the inconvenience to  other road users, this kind of inconsiderate driving is also very dangerous.

Tailgating – This is probably one of the greatest offences .  Some drivers are extremely impatient , some people do it without thinking, just following traffic they get a bit close, but then they back off as you accelerate way.

Some drivers tailgate deliberately though and these are the ones that are the most dangerous.  They sit behind you flashing their headlights in an effort to move you, but of course there is nowhere to go as you are in the process of overtaking and there is no room to pull in on the left.  To this kind of driver, the two second rule means that they can just about cope with another vehicle in front of them before they decide to intimidate them by driving inches away.

cartoon of rear ended

Undertaking – Tailgaters that don’t get their way will often resort to undertaking if they can.  Yes, there are also those selfish individuals out there that hog the middle and the outside lane.  They have no idea that there is a queue of traffic waiting to get past them, probably because they are in their own little world thinking about what to have for dinner.  This causes some individuals to loose patience and undertake. 

cartoon of danagerous bend  

Poor lane discipline – Some drivers are all over the place and they don’t seem to realise that they are supposed to stay in between those white dashed lines.  

Indicators – Some people have no idea what these pretty orange flashing lights are actually for! They move here and there and go wherever they please without any thought of letting the rest of the road users know what their intentions are.  

These are just a few of the things that can be particularly irritating about other drivers and their habits.  Below are some other annoyances ;

Cutting corners, particularly at junctions .

No headlights in conditions that require them .

Throwing cigarettes out the window.

 Leaving main beam on, or dipping only at the last minute.

 Inappropriate use of the horn.

 Impatient people Pushing in ahead of a queue of traffic.

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SPEED is the single biggest factor contributing to road deaths in Ireland. Over 40% of fatal collisions are caused by excessive or inappropriate speed.


A 5km/h difference in speed could be the difference between life and death for a vulnerable road user like a pedestrian.

  • Hit by a car at 60km/h, 9 out of 10 pedestrians will be killed
  • Hit by a car at 50km/h, 5 out of 10 pedestrians will be killed
  • Hit by a car at 30km/h, 1 out of 10 pedestrians will be killed

Speed has been identified as a key risk factor in road traffic injuries, influencing both the risk of a road crash as well as the severity of the injuries that result from crashes.

Excess speed is defined as exceeding the speed limit.

Inappropriate speed is defined as driving at a speed unsuitable for the prevailing road and traffic conditions.

Excess and inappropriate speed are responsible for a high proportion of the mortality and morbidity that result from road crashes.

Controlling vehicle speed can prevent crashes happening and can reduce the impact when they do occur,lessening the severity of the of injuries sustained by the victims.

car dropping

Dropping off 3 storeys is equivalent
to crashing at 50km/h

Dropping off 12 storeys is equivalent
to crashing at 100km/h


speed limit

Think about this:

Choose your speed and you choose your consequences.

In a 60 km/h zone, travelling at:

  • 65 km/h, you are twice as likely to have a serious crash
  • 70 km/h, you are four times as likely to have a serious crash
  • 75 km/h, you are 10 times as likely to have a serious crash
  • 80 km/h, you are 32 times as likely to have a serious crash than if you drive at 60 km/h.

In rural out of town areas, travelling just 10 km/h faster than the average speed of other traffic, you are twice as likely to have a serious crash.

Stopping distance in Wet conditions

stopping in the wet

Stopping Distance in dry conditions

stopping in the dry

Images provided by Holroyd City Council Austrialia.

Driving in Fog

Driving in Fog

Fog can be thought of as a cloud at ground level. It forms when the temperature drops to the dew point (the temperature at which air is saturated), and invisible water vapor in the air condenses to form suspended water droplets. Fog can reduce visibility to 1/4 mile or less, creating hazardous driving conditions. If you can't postpone your trip until dense fog lifts -- usually by late morning or the afternoon -- follow these tips:

  • Drive with lights on low beam. High beams will only be reflected back off the fog and actually impair visibility even more.

  • Reduce your speed -- and watch your speedometer. Fog creates a visual illusion of slow motion when you may actually be speeding.

  • Listen for traffic you cannot see. Open your window a little, to hear better.

  • Use wipers and defrosters as necessary for maximum visibility.

  • Use the left edge of the road or painted road markings as a guide.

  • Be patient. Do not pass lines of traffic.

  • Do not stop on a motorway or heavily traveled road.

Fog lamps may be used only in dense fog. In clear weather conditions they are liable to cause glare or dazzle and must be turned off.

For more information, contact:

Road Safety Officer
Mayo County Council
Aras an Chontae
The Mall
Co. Mayo
Phone: 094 9047115
9am to 5pm