The Roads Are Ours

Hmmm. Local authorities; government agencies and departments. I shouldn’t generalise because there are many people who do a perfectly fine and diligent job on our behalf. It’s just that some of them don’t and they are usually the decision makers.

There is a certain type of person who spring, fully formed, into the world of government, both local and national, without seemingly having gone through aspects of life that the rest of us put up with. Often times their attitude is coloured by their own self-importance. In the case of our road infrastructure they do things which often fly in the face of reasonableness and fair play as if motorists are the enemy and not the people they serve. The recent experience of Steve Harley (Cockney Rebel), who admits his error, has recently been highlighted for example.

The other night I was watching a TV programme about road management which displayed evidence of this and further proof lies in the recent news that the Department for Transport boss, Patrick McLoughlin, has got the wind up about the use of so-called Hadec3 ‘stealth’ cameras (without warning markers) on what are being described as ‘smart’ motorways. In light of public opinion – and there’s a general election coming up, obviously – he has asked the Highways Agency to review the policy of using grey cameras. He thinks they should be made more visible because drivers believe that the use of this technology in this way is underhand and sneaky.

‘Smart’ motorways are routes where speed limits can be varied depending upon traffic congestion. Disingenuously, The HA say that the cameras are not painted yellow because they are there to monitor traffic flow and not to cut speeds at accident black spots. It must just be a coincidence then that so many people have been penalised thanks to the introduction of these cameras.

‘Smart’ motorways are not really smart, they are just heavily monitored and the speed limit adjusted according to congestion. There’s no science here – it’s just human observers making a decision which – as the Steve Harley incident shows – is not always accurate or correct or fair.

I don’t have a problem with sensible and thought-through road policies and someone has to make the final decision. Cameras and other measures at places where their use could save lives are fair enough. What I do object to is this holier-than-thou attitude that pervades our society where neighbour penalises neighbour. All a bit to Big Brother for my liking. At the last election we were told by the Conservatives that the war on motorists was over. You could laugh about it now if it were not so infuriating.

Geoff Maxted