Monday, 5 January 2009

Devastating violence against a family

Anyone who wants safer roads immediately finds themselves up against power in all its manifestations. This is underlined by the latest incident of violence against a family group of four pedestrians, who were on a footpath when they were hit by a car whose driver “lost control” – probably because he was driving it at a recklessly fast speed in a 30 mph zone.

Police said the driver of the Mondeo lost control and drove on to the footpath, hitting the pedestrians. He was arrested for dangerous driving and has been bailed to a date in April.

Residents in Prior Road have been campaigning for speed bumps and cameras on the road for 10 years, they said. The road, which follows a hill, has a 30mph speed limit and there is a school at one end. Julia Jones, a resident of the area, said the collision had been "an accident waiting to happen". She said a number of residents had written to local politicians, the police and the media to raise their concerns about the danger. "This is a residential area but the flow of traffic is large and fast for the area," she added.

The “local politicians” in Surrey are Tories, and Tories resist restraints on drivers to a far greater degree than their Lib Dem or Labour counterparts (who themselves are not exactly cutting edge). Surrey police are like the police in general: driver crime is a very low priority. The local media is very good at publicising local safety campaigns and reporting on road crashes, but the national media is as indifferent to the daily carnage on the roads as national politicians are. And the legal system offers a full range of protection to the criminal driver. Quite often you can kill a cyclist or a pedestrian and be charged with no more than “carelessness”.

The blood-drenched hypocrisy of the ideology of “road safety” is underlined by the recent suggestion that speed limiters on cars and lorries would not only cut emissions but also lead to a significant reduction in deaths on the roads – but that this should be voluntary:

Speed limiters should be fitted to cars and lorries on a voluntary basis to reduce carbon emissions and cut accidents, a transport advisory body has recommended. The innovation - using satellite navigation technology to read the road's speed limit and adjust the vehicle's accelerator - was given a cautious welcome by the Department for Transport yesterday.

The report by the Commission for Integrated Transport and the Motorists' Forum claimed accidents involving injuries could be cut by 12% if the system was adopted universally - with a manual override system - and by more if the speed limiter was mandatory and always on.

You can guess who’s against speed limiters, can’t you?

The president of the Automobile Association, Edmund King, said: "The best speed-limiter is the driver's right foot and we need to educate ourselves to use it appropriately."