Monday, 11 May 2009

Road deaths and other acceptable casualties

An article by David Mitchell from Sunday's Observer is so full of sense, and so nicely written that I want to quote quite of lot of it. It concerns the pathetic whingeing of the car lobby that they are sometimes caught breaking the law and even *gasp* punished for it (although not very much).
Apparently, the criminals who break the speed limit don't like the punishments they receive. Then again, the criminals who break the murder laws don't particularly like the punishments they receive either, but they don't form quite such a strident lobby...

The fact that many more people speed than murder does not make it any less a crime, even though it is a lesser crime. And the difference in the magnitude of the offences is reflected by the huge difference in their punishments. So that doesn't excuse the grumbling letters to Top Gear magazine either...

Almost everyone knows when they're speeding and almost everyone speeds. Maybe this massed recalcitrance means we should change the law, allow people to drive as fast as they like and accept a few thousand more road deaths? ...

Some drivers seem to have a gut feeling that racing around attached to a big internal combustion engine, going wherever they want, as quickly as they deem convenient, is some of sort of natural right or ancient British liberty. Well it's not. It may feel natural but so does smoking or an expensive boob job. It's recent, unnatural and unhealthy and the world would probably be a better place if no one had ever done it. Soon they may have to stop.
Then in today's paper, in a nice segue, we find:
Thousands of taxis, buses and council vehicles could be fitted with devices that prevent them from exceeding the speed limit.
Given that a driver's willingness to obey the law seems in inverse proportion to the cost of their car, I would suggest phasing in speed limiters immediately on all cars selling for more than £20,000. Sports cars, the worst offenders, would have to have speed limiters fitted at their MOTs. I am sure that this would do more to reduce road deaths than any amount of traffic calming or improvements in crumple zones. Add in genuine enforcement of the Highway Code by real policeman on the road, and we would have a revolution in road safety.

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