IENGLISH LISTENING: Dangerous Road (Upper Intermediate)
DESCRIPTION: A radio discussion with two women who live next to a very dangerous section of road which has had a lot of accidents over the years. The local council won’t install a proper warning sign so a man living in another region of Ireland advises them to change the signs themselves.
Fatalities (noun): deaths/casualties
Bend (noun): a turn in the road
Upturned (adjective): Turned on its side/upside down
Camber (noun) of the road = the angle/slope of the road
Dunshaughlin (noun): A town in Ireland
Pull in (phrasal verb): To drive across and stop at the side of the road
Health and Safety (noun): A government agency which regulates safety and health
Be called upon to (phrasal verb) = be requested to….
Negotiate the bends (phrase) = successfully drive around the bends
Concealed entrance = a hidden entrance
Put forward (phrasal verb) an idea = propose an idea to someone official
in fairness to him = with respect to him
Boreen (noun) = a narrow country road in Ireland
Gards (noun) = Gardai (Irish police officers)
An Post (noun) = the Irish postal service
Take something upon yourself (phrasal verb) = give yourself responsibility for doing something
The two women (Margaret and Marian) live next to:
Lorries containing ___________ and _____________ have crashed into Margaret's garden:
Margaret's neighbours have been living in the area for:
The most recent fatality was:
What has Marian NOT asked the council to do?
Fintan recommends using ___________ to change to signs from 80 to ______:
Presenter: So we can go to Margaret Thornton now in Dunboyne, and Margaret, good afternoon, just remind us why some of our listeners may be familiar with you.
Margaret: Well, Alison, it was the end of last year when we spoke with Joe on your program regarding the fatalities. At the time, we had 2 fatalities in the year, which was last year. But since then we’ve had another fatality, and we’ve had numerous other deaths, serious accidents on our road.
Alison: And this is a particular accident blackspot – it’s been quite widely publicised I suppose. It had media in the past. Whereabouts is it, Margaret?
Margaret: It is on the Maynooth to Dunboyne road, approximately a mile and a half from Dunboyne and four miles from Maynooth. We just live on a series of bad bends and the speed limit is 80. Now, anybody who has come around the bend – my house is just around the bend, and anybody who has come around the bend at 80k has ended up in my front lawn. I’ve had lorries, cars, lorry loads of steel upturned in my front lawn. I’ve had a 30 tonne load of grain crash in years ago. I’ve had several… 13 mature trees and several shrubs demolished. And when my children were small they were terrified to go out. And as a result of this I contacted the then Meath county manager who said that he would pass my letter on to the engineer in Dunshauglin. But I’ve never heard from him since, that’s 25-30 years ago.
Alison: Oh my goodness
Margaret: In the meantime, we’ve had numerous accidents.
Alison: Very sadly, yeah. 3 fatalities in 12 months. This is horrific.
Margaret: We’ve had 3 fatalities. Unfortunately, we had a fatality just less than 2 weeks ago.
Alison: Oh dear. But not only are the fatalities now – it’s an incredibly serious situation that you have out there. But now there’s a new development, especially for yourself Margaret. What did you get in the post?
Margaret: Well, on Friday last, the 31st, attached to my late mail – I didn’t realise that my mail was late – but attached to the late mail was a little message from the post delivery driver, which said that, I’ll just read it: “could not stop due to dangerous road and speeding cars. Ordered by Health and Safety.” He has it dated and he has it signed. So he couldn’t obviously deliver my mail during the week and maybe if it was a quiet day, he could deliver it.
Margaret: Now, I did get mail delivered yesterday. So I’m not too sure. My nearest Post Office is in Dunshaughlin, which is 10 miles from here,
Margaret: So I’m not sure whether I have to go to Dunshaughlin to collect my mail, or whether he will just deliver it on the quiet days.
Alison: So this is really the postman, or An Post, telling you: “I’m sorry Margaret, but your road is just too dangerous for us to deliver.
Margaret: Yes, I did contact An Post yesterday, and they did say they would look into it and get back to me. They haven’t got back to me yet. But they’re looking into it. But… if, like… the delivery of post to me is only minor in comparison to the devastating injuries and the appalling loss of life that myself and my neighbours are so regularly witnessing.
Alison: You’ve been at the scene, you’ve been called upon in your capacity as a nurse.
Margaret: I’ve been at the scene, I’ve been at the scene of 4 fatalities. And I’ve been at the scene of numerous, less minor injuries, some of them appalling injuries. And we’ve all been pleading with our local politicians, with Meath county council. All we need is the speed lowered to maybe 50k and adequate enforcement.
Alison: But what more proof do they want Margaret? That, the fact, even a postman can’t get down your road because it’s so dangerous.
Margaret: I really… Now, he can get down the road, it’s just the fact that if I’m away I close my gate because I have dogs. And he feels unsafe pulling in. I have my letterbox on the pillar. And apparently he feels unsafe pulling in at that point and delivering the letters. If my gate is open, he has no problem driving in and going back to the post box at the gate and putting in the letters.
Alison: Has the council done anything Margaret?
Margaret: As a result of us talking with Joe, they have put up signs, but the signs just say concealed entrance.
Margaret: Now there has never been an accident in our area as the result of a concealed…
Alison: And what is it that’s causing it?
Margaret: It’s speed. It’s 80k around a bad bend. Nobody can come around. Like, if…. For people who don’t know the road, if they’re coming at 80k, they cannot, they cannot negotiate the bends.
Alison: Right okay, so it’s the camber of the road, and the speed…
Margaret: It’s the speed and the bad bends. The road was never designed for that amount… Now the traffic, it has increased. The volume has increased greatly in the past 12 months.
Alison: Are there many residents on this road?
Margaret: There, it’s very very…. Yes. There are a huge amount of residents. A huge amount of houses on the road.
Alison: And were they built recently?
Margaret: Oh no no no!
Alison: Or are they there a long time?
Margaret: No. Like, I can go back to 2nd and 3rd generations of people that I’ve called on for help. My neighbours. When there’s been an accident, shouted at them. Like, it’s the 3rd generation in some of these houses.
Margaret: That’s how long they’re there.
Alison: And I’m just wondering. Surely, I’ve seen when, God forbid, that there are fatalities during a road accident, that they do close off the road and investigations are carried out. Road safety investigations. Do they ever come to any conclusions and have these been put forward to the council, I wonder?
Margaret: Well, they obviously have but the people who the people who are resident on it don’t know about them. The road has been closed off, usually for a day after one of these accidents because forensics take a day to do all of this. And they’re closed off, but there’s nothing being done.
Margaret: Nothing. We just need the speed limit to be reduced and enforced. It’s [sic] no point reducing it if it’s not enforced.
Alison: Exactly, exactly. And Margaret, do stay with us because I can bring in Marian and Marian is also in Dublin and is quite familiar with this particular stretch of road.
Margaret: Well Marian is a few houses away also, yes.
Alison: Good afternoon Marian.
Marian: Hello Alison, how are you?
Alison: I’m very well. Tell us about your own deep feelings I suppose, your own experiences on this stretch of road.
Marian: Well I just live about four houses away from Margaret and in fact, I was on, speaking to Joe in September with Margaret. We were actually on because Larry, if you remember, a gentleman that had an accident
Alison: Larry Malone. Yes I believe he’s doing very well, thankfully.
Marian: Yes, he is doing very well but Larry asked to speak to us because we had gone out to help him. But since then, we’ve waited patiently for signs that we were promised. Councillor Damien O’Reilly, in fairness to him, kept in contact with us, telling us that we were getting signs. And the signs came and as Margaret said, the signs are just for concealed entrance. Now, there’s about six of them along the road.
Alison: In your opinion, what’s that going to do for any driver?
Marian: Absolutely nothing. We have looked and watched and I can’t see any difference. I can’t see that the traffic has slowed down in any way. And as we’ve said, this day 2 weeks ago we had another fatality. So, it’s very very sad, very sad.
Alison: So that’s it like for both of you then, I suppose, living along this road and having to witness, well not only very bad accidents but unfortunately fatalities along this road?
Marian: It’s just, at this stage. Well I can tell you, for instance, last night I was meeting a friend of mine. She was going to call for me – we were going out. And she said “Marian, I won’t call to your gate, I’ll meet you up the road where there’s a place I can pull in.” Now, I did that, and as I got into her car she said “I don’t know how you live on this road.” She said “I hate driving on this road.” She said, “if I go slow, the cars are passing me on bends, I’m afraid I’m going to cause an accident. If I go fast, I’m equally as frightened in case I run into something or I meet something on a bend.” So it’s not just – it’s all the residents on this road. We have all voiced our opinion and Margaret and I are just speaking for them all here today. Nobody is listening. Concealed entrance signs are not doing anything. All we’re looking for is black spot signs to go up or the speed limit to be reduced to 50.
Alison: Have the Gardai said anything about this, Marian? Have they got involved? Do they recommend maybe that the speed be reduced?
Marian: Well, every time there’s an accident they keep saying “it’s appalling, this road is terrible. I don’t know how you can get out your gate.” You know, they commiserate with us every time. But nothing has happened. Nothing is done.
Alison: Well stay with us, because I’ve got Fintan Convery. And Fintan, I believe something similar may have occurred and people in the vicinity took it into their own hands. What happened to you, Fintan? Good afternoon.
Fintan: Hello, good afternoon. Yeah I’m just ringing here from Moycullen, which is a village just 10km north of Galway on the main Cliffden Road. And a number of years ago the council put up a load of road signs on all the small boreens, and they’re really just single lane roads leading off the main road heading over towards F_____ and S______ and into the bog and things like this. And people I know have been on to the local TD, they’ve been on to the local council saying “look, this is crazy. These are single roads with grass growing up the middle. What are you doing putting an 80 kmph sign on it? When there are children walking to school, when there are houses, all sorts of things, tucked away in there. Nothing was done about it until eventually, some wise person went and with some white enamel paint, altered all the signs from 80 to 30.
Alison: Right, just took it upon themselves!
Fintan: Pardon me?
Alison: They just took it upon themselves to change the law.
Fintan: Yeah, people’s lives are at risk here. You cannot wait for bureaucracies or as this woman just pointed out, the fact that for years, decades perhaps, they have been trying to get safety notices put up. You cannot wait for this slaughter to continue on these minor roads and expect, you know, engineers to suddenly jump and come out and do something! Because they were tied up to their bureaucracies who’ve all kinds of financial restrictions – all sorts of nonsense! And my recommendation to that community would be to protect yourselves in some way. A little bit. It’s not entirely going to work but for those who might not be familiar with the road, who might be driving it for the first time, or the second time. If they were going along and suddenly saw signs that were slightly, and carefully, and cleverly painted out from an 80 to a 30, they might think a little bit more about doing 50, 60, 70.
Alison: Exactly. Margaret Thornton in Dunboyne, is this something that’s ever been discussed in the resident’s association or anything? Has this come up?
Margaret: It has been discussed. Like, I have a letter here from Mary Wallace. And it is dated the 7th of May, 2002 responding to a letter about the number of people that were being killed on the road. And in that she said “am I following up with the possibility of reducing the speed limit. And I will be in contact with you as soon as possible.” And that was it.
Alison: And that was it, you never got anything then.
Margaret: And I’ve several of those. But nothing’s happened. But it’s all very well changing the speed limit but it has to be enforced. Unless there’s enforcement, there’s no point doing that.
Alison: And would you like to see more Gards on the roads?
Margaret: We need Gards! It needs to be enforced. The speed limit. It is 80, it’s impossible to get around the bends at 80.
Alison: Well clearly
Margaret: We need to reduce and we need to enforce it.
Alison: Okay, well look, I sincerely hope that someone listens in. It’s Meath County Council, I believe, is it?
Margaret: It’s Meath County Council, I’ve contacted Meath County Council on several occasions and mostly without any reply and other times
Fintan: In the meantime, if you were to alter the sign, or if someone was to do that, you’d at least have some opportunity of saving some lives.
Alison: Well, hopefully they wouldn’t be done for graffiti or something like that, Fintan. There is a danger of that.
Margaret: This is the danger of that, you know. Interfering with that is not a good idea.
Alison: Go on Marian, yeah.
Marian: And we even thought, actually, Margaret and I, and together last week Margaret came up with the idea, could we put up, you know, a white cross in various places. But we were afraid to do that because we might, you know, be breaking the law by doing that.
Alison: Well hopefully, you can hold off and hopefully some movement will come from Meath County Council.
Marian, Margaret and Fintan we appreciate you calling in on that topic.