Tolls raise risks on rural roads


REARVIEW:The proposal to toll national roads has raised the hackles of many people, most of whom argue that it would be an unjust additional levy on heavily-taxed motorists who already contribute so much to the Exchequer. But the true impact of tolling such routes could be far, far more serious.

You have no doubt heard Gay Byrne’s latest radio advert in which he warns that the roads where you are most likely to “kill or be killed” are not those where the speed is greatest, like motorways and major national routes, but regional and local ones. This summer, please don’t allow local to become lethal, Byrne implores.

It’s a powerful message, backed up by statistics. According to the RSA, just 5.1 percent of fatal crashes in 2008 happened on motorways or dual carriageways.The Government should listen to Uncle Gaybo.

Tolling major roads will drive cash-strapped motorists to find an alternative route to their destination that doesn’t involve emptying their pockets. While the toll may be but a few cent per journey many will dodge the fees by shunning the relative safety of major roads and use poorly-maintained secondary roads instead. And because they may be delayed by taking a more circuitous route, the twin killers – speed and stress – will raise their ugly heads. It doesn’t take a genius to spot the potential for disaster.

While tolling motorists will no doubt raise much-needed revenue, it may end up costing them far more than it generates.