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Road Safety: OK Fine……

May 16, 2011

 

Newton Abbot, England –  Another political football has received a punt up the field….

It is road safety. This week saw the publication of the UK Governments Strategic Framework for Road Safety. Remember the last UK General Election, May 2010, remember Philip Hammond MP, now the  UK the Transport Secretary, rattling on about “the war on motorists” and how he would be calling a truce well it’s here, but of a sort.

Truce? No, more of a reduction in hostilities while attempting to draw the road safety issue into public debate in order to gain popularity  I’d say. Am I alone in thinking that policies and strategies about issues like this should be cross party i.e. not the subject of political rhetoric or party dogma. Should we not have a road safety vision, a strategy  to achieve the vision and tactics to attain the strategy that are agreed and grow incrementally and organically as new challenges arise. Not as now fiddled with by politicians on a five-year cycle and based mostly on self-interest and the need to win an election. Politicians who attract  the camp followers of None Governmental Organisations, consultants, industry specialists e.g. retired police officers and companies flogging the “latest” in road safety technology. Err anyone seen the road safety professional?

As a service to biking I’ve read through the seventy-five page Strategic Framework for Road Safety document and here are a few highlights.

There is much made of decentralisation, the Big Society, localism and doing it yourself. Get road safety out on the ground locally and give the people what they want. All right and fine, but arguably a good way of getting the central Government off the hook both from the responsibility to deliver and funding point of view, remember those “ reckless cuts to road safety funding”. In short if your or your local authority can’t divi up for a local school road crossing patrol the Government certainly won’t.

Then there’s the emphasis on going with public opinion and mistakes. I just hope statements like “going with the grain of human behaviour” and quotes like: “We want to make a clear distinction between those drivers who are a real danger to road safety – reckless, dangerous drivers – and those who are merely occasionally careless or who make an honest mistake” don’t come back to haunt Hammond. Some young men like to drive and ride very fast on public roads so if we go with the “grain of human behaviour” shouldn’t we let them? So what about the “honest mistake”? Perhaps someone from the Department for Transport should have popped along to a court case involving a road death. Almost inevitable the person in the dock says something like: ” well yeah I made an honest mistake when I enjoyed 15 bottles of lager and 12 vodkas then drove my car into a bus queue”.

Oh and what about fines and fixed penalty notices. Some good news. The police will get powers to issue fixed penalty notices for offences such as tailgating, undertaking or cutting up another motorist. So action at last on the close passing close following drivers who are the bane of cyclists, scooterists and motorcyclists. Downside where are the traffic police? Oh yes they all got cut due to lack of funding, didn’t they?

Fixed penalty fines  will almost certainly rise to £100 from the current £60. Bringing in a  few quid for the Treasury. Based on the most recent speed fine statistics a nice handy £113 million a year to be precise. Pity that money is not ring fenced to be specifically spent on road safety.

But no worries we won’t all be getting fined for speeding. There’s going to be a new emphasis on speed awareness courses. So if you are caught doing four or five miles per hour over the limit it’s a speed awareness course and if your done for eight or nine miles over the limit it’s the fine and points.

On the subject of points here’s a couple to consider. Remember all the who ha about a tax on speed, hypothecation, the Treasury keeps all the speeding fine cash and the police keep all the money from the speed awareness course. All that stuff about the more people who get nicked the more money the Exchequer makes. Allegations of the police and the road safety partnerships going out on “ the hunt” for speeders. All the stuff about it being un fair and the last Government backing down. Well its back the more people who get “done” the more monies made, a tax on speed returns.

And safety cameras. Well Mr Hammond wants to de-emphasise those. Nasty things, black and white offences blah blah blah. Well actually they will be back and they will have a new little friend. The camera system that can detect tailgaters is alive and well and living on a motorway in the West Midlands. Only snag it could not be used as there was no fixed penalty offence for tailgating, hey there is now. What fun!

Road safety is no accident, but it is apparently a nice little earner. Actually that’s not true but Hammond certainly has done nothing to kill the myth.

Ride safe, and have fun in the West Midlands!

© Back Roads Rider 2011

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Dave permalink
    May 18, 2011 9:59 am

    Increasing the fines? But it’s not about revenue generation? Interesting.

    Cameras for dangerous driving? Fantastic, we’ll be able to claim fines from the deceased’s estate and they wont be able to contest it. Why don’t we all fit cameras to every house, street corner and alley. No need to prevent crime as long as we can prosecute people after it.

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