Donegal driving culture is “madness” - Judge

A Circuit Court Judge has hit out strongly at the culture of modified cars, speeding and dangerous driving that results in serious injury and death on Donegal’s roads.

A Circuit Court Judge has hit out strongly at the culture of modified cars, speeding and dangerous driving that results in serious injury and death on Donegal’s roads.

Judge John O’Hagan, speaking at Letterkenny Circuit Court, said that in his six years as a Circuit Court Judge here, he has dealt with up to 14 cases of death by dangerous driving, including the death of two serving gardaí, as well as many cases where people suffered serious injury.

“I regret to say that it is not over yet. I’m aware of a number of very serious cases in the pipeline where many people died”, he said.

Judge O’Hagan said during his time in Donegal, he has seen first hand not only the cases before the court, but also the marks on the road where examples of dangerous driving could be clearly observed.

“I travel to my accommodation every evening, which is a distance from here, and I see the marks on the road. I see these doughnuts. I’m aware what goes on. They have races and use mobile phones to make sure there are no gardaí around. They risk their own lives and the lives of others. Why? Why? It is such a waste,” he stated.

Judge O’Hagan was speaking at the sentence hearing of a man who pleaded guilty to the charge of dangerous driving causing the death of his cousin in a crash near Redcastle in April 2009.

Both men were thrown from the car when it left the road at high speed, rolled a number of times and ended up in a field.

This was the defendant’s second time to be involved in a road crash that resulted in a fatality when two years earlier in 2007 he was a passenger in a car in which the driver was killed.

Speaking of the 2009 crash Judge O’Hagan said: “This young man had his whole life in front of him. Why? It’s madness and we have to come into court and mop the whole thing up. It is so unnecessary,” he added.

Judge O’Hagan said despite the high number of such incidents of dangerous driving in recent years “it still goes on and I can’t get my head around it”.

“The message I send out to all young people you know who are fiddling with cars is for them to stop”, he added