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A senior moment….

March 28, 2011


Marham, England –  I seem to be having one, a senior moment that is….

But perhaps is not me who is confused over the UK Governments road safety policy, perhaps it’s the UK Government who are enjoying a collective senior moment, road safety policy wise.

This week, in an interview with then Guardian newspaper, Secretary of State for Transport, Phillip Hammond, said: “You can always improve road safety.” “You could improve road safety by making a man walk in front of a car waving a red flag. There have to be trade-offs. It’s simply not right to say that anything is an absolute.” Think you may have missed the point there Phil, being killed in a crash or receiving life changing injuries is pretty damn “absolute” isn’t it.

It is thus hardly surprising that, following months of prevarication, Hammond has announced his intention not to lower the UK drink drive limit from its current 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood to 50mg. A decision taken against the advice of  Sir Peter North, the Government’s adviser on the drink drive limit issue, and the House of Commons Transport Select Committee who recently called for the reduction of the drink-drive limit from 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitre of blood to only 20 milligrams.

So that’s that the Federation of Licensed Victuallers Associations, which represents pub landlords, and the Portman Group, lobbying on behalf of the brewing and alcohol retail sector, one point and road safety nil points.

Although Hammond has ignored reducing the drink drive limit he will introduce a “package of measures to tackle drink and drug driving.” He intends to bring forward legislation that will approve drug-testing devices, speed up the testing process and in general streamline enforcement. His  press statement also included the quote: “drink driving still kills hundreds of people so we need to take tough action against the small minority of drivers who flagrantly ignore the limit.”

I’m a bit confused here Phil, you appear to be saying there are hundreds of drunk drivers out there but really don’t want to step on toes to sort it. Bit of  mixed message. Particularly when some experts except that driving at or slightly below the current UK limit can cause impairment of driving/riding skills. I for one would like to more confident that when putting in the bike miles I’m faced with less idiots and in  particular less idiots who are drunk.

But looking at the UK Governments recent statements on road safety issues and policies  it’s all confused mixed messages like:-

The turning off of street lights at night to save money.

The raising  the UK motorway speed to 80 mph to “speed up journeys”.

The switching off of traffic signals at night.

The switching off and now the switching back on of speed cameras.

Some Councils banning motorcyclists and scooterists from bus lane usage only a few months after allowing them in.

Perhaps the policy is simple confusion, or is that the policy makers are simple confused?

Ride safe, ride sober, have fun!

© Back Roads Rider 2011

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Ian Cook permalink
    March 28, 2011 7:00 am

    How many accidents are caused by drivers/riders between 50 & 80 mg/100ml?
    How many accidents are caused by complete piss-heads who didn’t get caught before they caused an accident, because enforcement is crap?
    When were you last stopped by the police?
    Get real, please. What is the real issue, legislation or enforcement?

    • Elaine Hardy permalink
      April 1, 2011 7:18 pm

      Interesting point. However, according to Stats 19, it appears that there has been a significant reduction in the incidences of drink driving (and subsequent prosecutions). Is this due to less coppers on patrol or a sense of civic responsibility?

      My theory is neither. Simply that people who smoke are less inclined to go out. So if they don’t go out, they don’t drive.

      There must be a moral to the story here, but I’m not sure what it is. Buy a house next to a pub?

      • Elaine Hardy permalink
        April 1, 2011 7:20 pm

        oops – there is a bit missing – I refer to the reduction of drinking driving since the smoking ban in public places (pubs, restaurants, bingo halls etc)

  2. March 28, 2011 8:33 pm

    Hmmm. talk about mixed. Is being “drunk” (depends on definition of course) and having <80mg in the blood the same thing? You seem to think so. I don't.

    Hammonds comment is true. Just not very PC. Of course, if you take it out of context, you can say that life is absolute…on the other hand if we introduce 5mph speed limits everywhere, the road deaths will go down (although death from high blood pressure caused by frustration will increase!). So somewhere there IS and there HAS to be a compromise. And again, where that is, depends on your standpoint. Nothing is absolute…oh hang on didn't Hammond just say that??

    Yes crack down hard on DRUNK drivers. I want to ride my bike safely too, of course. But there is a world of difference between one glass of wine with a meal, and being drugged up to the eyeballs.

    If you want absolutely safety on your bike. Don't ride one. Of course there is a degree of risk! Absolutely!

    [PS normally I agree with 90% of what you write. Not this time though…well maybe I agree with…or not…well perhaps… the bit about pontificating between…or … Anyway keep writing, keeps me entertained anyway!]

  3. Teapot permalink
    March 30, 2011 11:34 am

    Hmmm… not sure what the probem is here. Like the two comments above, I don’t see the danger being from people who have between 50 and 80 mg of alcohol. I don’t see many cases prosecuted with these figures. I believe this might lead to more people being stopped going to work who could fall into this categorie from having a reasonable drink the night before and are still driving safely, simply because the Police could be seen to ‘be doing something about drink driving’.

    I think measures such as 80 mph on motorways simply reflect the way many people drive already and would reduce the anxiety of being caught for doing nothing particularly wrong. If Hammond really wants to improve road safety, he’d bring back proper road traffic policing, but that would cost money.

    I think we should broadly welcome a shift away from the ‘if it saves just one life’ attitude pushed by BRAKE and others. I for one and willing to take the (very small) risk that that one person may be me or a loved on, in exchange for the overall benefit of movement by the general populace. Everything is a compromise and life is dangerous. I’d also like to see the same attitude applied to some of the airport security procedures to bring a sense of reality back. Overall, life is safer than ever, yet we’re encouraged to think it’s full of danger. This just makes people more compliant and vulnerable to exploitation of that fear by companies selling everything from insurance to cleaning products to quack health products.

  4. Chris R permalink
    March 31, 2011 1:01 am

    Yet more legislation, that’s pleasing. I thought the government was going to cut red tape too and make things more simpler, so in fact again, u-turning.

    I doubt the legislation to make it illegal not to have a car taxed or sorn’d, will actually reduce the number of un-insured cars on the road but I guess we’ll see on that too.


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