Monday 26 July 2010

War on Safety

I'm sure that there will be some who welcome yesterday's news that the UK government is going to scrap the funding for speed cameras in England and Wales. I am not one of them. And the wording of the announcement was disingenuous to say the least.

What they've actually done is to cut the budget for road safety, and to describe that as 'ending the war on motorists' is stretching credulity more than a little. It's a populist turn of phrase of course, but I've never understood how using modern technology as a cost-effective way of enforcing the law and protecting the majority of road users from the irresponsibility of the few can be described as a 'war on motorists'.

I don't doubt that there are some motorists who feel aggrieved when they get caught because their speed has crept above the limit, but we have a stretch of road near us where we take our lives into our hands on a daily basis because an irresponsible minority think that speed limits and double-white lines only need to be obeyed if there is a visible police presence. Or a camera. We've had one car written off already (no serious injuries fortunately), and any number of near misses.

I worked for one organisation where meetings regularly started late because one or other participant already had 9 points on his licence (it was always a 'he') and couldn't afford to drive fast enough to get there on time. The idea of setting out earlier seems to be an entirely alien thought to that sort of driver.

It is entirely legitimate to campaign for changes in speed limits (in either direction), but I do not regard it as legitimate to campaign against enforcement of the law. Unenforced laws are simply pointless. Nor do I regard it as somehow 'unsporting' to use technology where appropriate as part of that enforcement.

I'm convinced that traffic enforcement cameras can and do save lives, and that we need more, not less. Ending the 'war on motorists' may turn out to be the start of a war on safety.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

whether its right or wrong to cut speed cameras or police officers, everything can and will be justified by the UK Government with the need to save money and reduce the deficit, other considerations are simply not on the radar.

The issue is that numbers on spreadsheets in the Treasury may not mean a lot to Civil Servants and Ministers when they slash them, but they mean a lot to communities and individuals affected.

The sad thing is that there is little or nothing that can be done to stop it happening.