LEICESTER, United Kingdom — Bishop Fintan Monahan of Killaloe in Ireland says young men between 18 and 24 are behind the rise of car crashes in the country.
“Speed, carelessness, poor conditions, inexperience, alcohol/drug consumption, driver-distraction and fatigue – a main factor is over-confidence, more traditionally referred to as ‘bravado’, and this finding is reflected by evidential research,” he said in a new letter published by the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference Sept. 18.
“It is the dream of many young people to pass their driving test and gain the freedom of lawfully driving on our road network. In recent times, this dream has been thwarted and replaced with the feeling of impatience amongst young people due to the length of time it can take to be allocated a slot to undergo a driving test,” he said.
In particular, Monahan urged young drivers to be wary of over-confidence.
“The driving test is merely an entry point and it does not guarantee safety on the road – safety is something one learns through careful practice over time,” he said.
“Unquestioningly, success at a theory and practice test is a big moment for every new driver. Young drivers in particular feel they have invested a lot in their driving license, and while this is true, unfortunately it does not signal the end of learning.”
“Experience is the greatest teacher of all, and that will only come in time,” Monahan wrote.
“People often ask me about prayers to say before embarking on a journey … equally as important is our behavior when we are driving a vehicle, or using a road in any capacity. When we practice attentiveness and vigilance at all times, we show respect for God and all of humanity.”
“Exercising vigilance and attentiveness is a practical form of prayer,” the bishop said.
He also warned that bad habits learned in youth can become ingrained as drivers, saying the core to good driving is “personal responsibility”.
“It is about you and me, as individual drivers and our standard of road safety that we practice,” the bishop said.
Monahan, 56, was responding in part to new data showing that so far in 2023, a total of 130 people have died in fatal incidents on Irish roads, 32 more than the same period in 2022 and one of the highest number in years.
Road safety is not a new concern for the bishop of Killaloe, located in south-central Ireland roughly 110 miles from Dublin.
Monahan also spoke out in 2022, when the first wave of post-Covid travel across Ireland saw an increase in auto accidents and fatalities.
“In our job, dealing with so many funerals, you see the effects of, not only the immediate deaths, but also of the people who are seriously injured,” he told the Irish Independent at the time.
“You see the effects of the bereavement and the fallout that this carnage leaves in terms of the sadness,” he said.
Appointed to Killaloe in 2016, Monahan in known in Ireland, among other things, for his active use of social media.