Saturday, 7 November 2009

The gullibility of the New York Times

Although most European countries and a minority of American states now ban the use of hand-held cellphones while driving, Britain has become one of the more aggressive countries in attacking the problem, according to Ellen Townsend, policy director for the European Transit Safety Council, which advises the European Commission.

Says the New York Times.

In reality this bogus ‘Council’ is a road lobby front, which only ‘advises’ the EC in the sense of lobbying it through the medium of agreeable conferences and workshops. Freebies for the legislators.

Ellen Townsend’s claims, uncritically swallowed by the NYT, are complete garbage. The law against driving while using a handheld mobile phone in the UK is spectacularly not enforced, and the small number of drivers who are caught receive the most derisory of punishments – a tiny fine and 3 points on your licence. You can be caught three times in a year using a handheld mobile phone and still be allowed to continue driving. The Brown government has declined to beef up the law, and won’t ban the use of hands-free phones, even though the government’s own road research laboratory has revealed the dangers.

The European Transit Safety Council’s sponsorship consortium currently consists of 3M, Diageo, KeyMed, Shell International, Toyota and the Volvo Group.

It has no membership representing cycling or walking organisations. In reality it seeks to divert attention from the root cause of road crashes – criminally negligent driving, aided and abetted by vehicles designed to break speed limits – substituting candyfloss solutions such as the

stunning economic benefits from road safety advertising

and the ‘need’ to spend more money on roads:

Poor infrastructure continues to be an important cause of road traffic crashes. Road safety research shows that infrastructure is a contributing factor in one out of three fatal accidents in Europe and that safer road design and layout would do most to reduce the rate of death and serious injury.

And why is the New York Times regurgitating this propaganda? Surely that is the job of the BBC.