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Monday, November 12, 2007


Speed doesn’t kill?

Pootling around the pages of the Torygraph’s motoring section as I am wont to do on a lazy Sunday afternoon, I came across an article based on a book excerpt about scare stories called “Speed Cameras, the twisted truth”. As everybody knows, the sensible Canadians ditched speed cameras and have very effective Police patrols (I know this from personal experience). This means that the Police have enough Traffic resources to stop suspect vehicles and catch ‘impaired’ drivers before they can do serious harm. They also nick you for speeding or if your vehicle is in an unsafe condition, but that’s part of the law and they enforce it fairly.

I’m adding a sidebar link to Mr Smith’s “Safe Speed” web site, because I’ve read what he says, checked the statistics from several sources, and find merit in his arguments. He is not arguing for no speed limits, only for the rest of the Highway Code to be enforced properly, and not by cameras but real live coppers who can keep the lid on the downright anti social and stupid simply by their presence.

To be honest, I’ve always wondered about the bald assertion that speed kills in ‘over a third’ of all RTA’s (Road Traffic Accidents). Not that speed doesn’t kill, but the actual figure is running at more like 12.7% (Including ‘probable’ and ‘contributory’ deaths) than the 35% I’ve heard quoted by the ‘Speed is really, really bad’ lobby. The major causes of death on the UK’s roads appear to be what used to be called ‘Driving without due care and attention’ and what they call over here ‘Impaired driving’ (Drink or drugs).

Mr Smith also came in from a slating a while back from the Guardian’s George Monbiot (For whom I have little respect – See sidebar for ‘Autorantic Moonbat’) who apparently called Paul Smith’s side of the argument “The road rage lobby”. Monbiot can’t have read Safe Speeds web site content, which far from being the irresponsible organ Monbiot outlines, is a very sober and structured set of articles arguing for a return to less two dimensional means of Traffic Enforcement than speed cameras.

As an ex-parking enforcement officer I can recall seeing people deliberately driving the wrong way up one way streets, vehicles climb the kerb while their drivers were talking on their mobile phones, pedestrians made to scatter on crossings, and all because a lack of actual on street enforcement. Of course we parking plodders would call the incidents in to CCTV when we saw them, but 90% of the time you didn’t even get an acknowledgement. We did used to help with the odd drunk driver giving one or two of our number a mouthful. On five out of six incidents where we called in “Driver very abusive, breath smelled strongly of alcohol.” we heard that the culprit had been caught and booked for Drink Driving. That felt good. I’ve (As I’ve probably mentioned before), lost a lot of close friends to people who thought it was safe to drive while rat arsed, and really have no love for anyone like that.

As a keen motorcyclist, I recall a number of my friends fell victim to the ‘SMIDSY manoeuvre’ and took a header over some fools bonnet as a result. Sometimes they didn’t survive, and all because the car driver wasn’t paying proper attention. I’ve known court cases where the bench have sided with the errant driver just because the injured party was riding a motorcycle. I can only account for my own relatively unscathed survival in twenty plus years of riding (In most weathers) to sheer paranoia, good road instincts, and simple good luck. Oh yes, and paying close attention to the tenets outlined in the Police riders manual ‘Roadcraft’.

As for speed alone being the cause of any misfortune, it doesn’t kill as many as by those so blind they should not have a licence (Poor eyesight). Nor does it kill anywhere near as many as those who drink, drive whilst on medication (I include ‘just a dose of Night Nurse’), illegal drugs, or drive whilst ill, and who amongst us hasn’t done that? Nor does it kill as many as those who basically are not paying proper attention to what they are doing, the impatient, the careless, feckless and occasionally utterly idiotic.

Besides, I’ve always reckoned that the best places for speed (Sorry, Safety) cameras is actually in urban and suburban areas. Say for example at pedestrian crossings and junctions where people routinely ‘jump the lights’ and block junctions. They have such cameras in situ here in BC, and no one complains because the sane folks hereabouts reckon that jumping a red light is about as safe as slapping a hungry Grizzly across the nose with a wet hanky. Yet certain idiots still persist in doing it. Jumping the lights, that is. You don’t tend to find much left after a hungry Grizzly Bear has finished with someone.

What the hell, you can’t tell someone who just won’t listen. Especially if they support the current UK governments position.

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Anonymous Asp said...

I've been mindful of the new plan to increase the penalty depending on how far over the limit you are.

At first glance it seems a good idea - after all, those driving at 45 in a 30 limit aren't just carelessly creeping over the limit.
But it goes back to the fundamental point - at certain times of the day 45 might be totally safe.

Clearly no speed limits is a bad idea (170mph in a Lambo might seem totally safe to the driver - but there has to be some measure to judge the 'unexpected'). But I completely agree - Speed doesn't kill. Inappropriate and excessive speed for the circumstances does...

Monday, November 12, 2007 4:53:00 pm  
Anonymous Increase Web Site Traffic said...

"Speed doesn't kill! Suddenly becoming stationary - thats the killer." -Jeremy Clarkson

Saturday, September 27, 2008 9:51:00 pm  

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Exasperated expatriate expostulations all the way from British Columbia, Canada. As if anyone really cared. Oh, I also watch Icelandic Volcanoes and seismic activity. Don't ask me why.

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