When out driving in your car you will sometimes see at the roadside a small, sad shrine with soggy cellophane, wilted flowers and perhaps a bedraggled teddy bear and you’ll know that someone died on that road. When you, the passing stranger, notice the temporary memento mori it might give you pause for thought and it might make you lift off the throttle for a moment because it reminds you that the road is a dangerous thing.
Bereft parents or relatives will often start some form of road safety trust in memory of the deceased. Mostly these will fail because it’s not really our pain but when such tragedies are highlighted it does at least remind us about the need for road safety, whatever the mode of transport, especially perhaps at this time of year.
At the time of writing this some areas of the country are about to be on the receiving end of some of the ghastly white stuff. Road journeys will be more difficult and treacherous and, regrettably, many people are not equipped to drive in these conditions. Maybe a few turns on a skid pan should be an added aspect of driver training. Car control is fairly easy to grasp once you get past the fear factor.
Good driving and road safety are not about speed cameras or road humps or 20MPH limits, they are about training. The lack of traffic police means that standards are dropping. You’ve all seen the mobile phone users and the road hogs. The level of road-selfishness has never been higher. As one discredited and forgotten political nonentity once said, the answer is education, education, education.
In a frantic modern world, why shouldn’t driver training start in the schoolroom? Not in the piecemeal way that road safety is currently taught, but as a formal part of the school curriculum. Why shouldn’t young children understand the dangers inherent with car use long before they take the wheel? After all, we, as parents, do our ‘green cross code’ bit at the roadside (only without superhero costume) so why should that not be reinforced at school, perhaps by regular visits from the local friendly plod and a driving instructor?
Not so long ago our TV and cinema screens regularly showed public information road safety films. Produced by the State, they were uniformly terrible and patronising as you might expect (nothing changes) but they did help to get the message across. All you get these days is some simpering twit flicker across our screens with some sort of banal road safety cliché.
As drivers we need to be more considerate of all other users and I even include the lycra-clad cycling Nazi’s who believe they have some God-given right to do as they please. Seriously though folks, you really are not allowed to run them down even if provoked. There’s a law apparently.
Awareness is key; the child near the crossing, the halfwit with his face buried in the screen of his stupid phone, the old person who thinks that a tonne of rushing metal can stop at the drop of a hat when the aforementioned old person drops his hat: the list of perils is endless, which is why safe driving needs to be inculcated at an early age. Then perhaps we might see a few less of those sad roadside memorials.