Road Safety, Complacency And The Police

road safety, police, complacencyAs I am sure everybody knows, decades of complacent government has led us to the current need for austerity, both locally and nationally, run essentially by the same shower who caused the problems in the first place.

The result of all this austerity, except for MPs obviously who have had their pay rise, is cut backs all around and one organisation that is really feeling the pinch is the police force. Police funding is being cut to the bone – despite the usual protestations of government – and the service itself is run by the bean-counters who put budget before law and order. There are now thousands fewer coppers than at any time in living memory.

If you are burgled but not attacked the chances are that the authorities will not respond. It is reported in newspapers that the police are retreating from the streets which means we lose the security of the visible presence. Serving rank and file officers would, I’m sure, prefer it was other than it is. They have a tough enough job as it is without being stretched to breaking point.

They have many serious issues to deal with which is why we don’t see them on the roads much any more and this in turn has led to complacency amongst road users. The likelihood of getting caught for all the various misdemeanour’s is remote. Government can roll out as many laws as it likes but they serve no purpose if there is no one to administer them.

Thamesdown Drive in Swindon is an urban dual carriageway with a forty limit and it is one of those roads where the speed limit is contentious. There are certainly sections where fifty would be more appropriate but there you are. Lately, many drivers have become complacent and haven’t been watching their speedos. There’s rarely any incidents of gross speeding but a lot of drivers are, shall we say, flexible in their approach to the limit. So imagine their consternation yesterday when they rounded a curve to be confronted by a lone bobby with a speed gun. Where did he come from?

The trouble is, this sort of action by the police is precisely what puts drivers’ noses out of joint. It isn’t a considered action. You can’t have a cohesive road safety policy if it isn’t policed fairly. Thus some handy cash will be raked in but it will achieve nothing. A few drivers will feel aggrieved that they will have to pay a fine and will be penalised for the next five years. That’s four by the law and an extra one by their insurance company for good measure because even if you’re penalised for being one mile over the limit your insurer will assume you are the most dangerous person on the road. It’s a con but again, what can you do?

Meanwhile all the complacent telephone users and make-up appliers and tablet checkers and dashboard fiddlers and middle lane hoggers and tail-gaters and non-indictators and road-ragers and stupid old farts and careless, sloppy drivers out there at every junction and on every road continue to get away with it.

The police must be funded properly if they are to do the job properly. It is a disgrace that they are reduced to a thin blue line. A visible and friendly police presence on the road would do more for road safety than bus-lane cameras – surely a modern form of highway robbery – and the odd token copper on a lonely verge.
Geoff Maxted