For those of you who have been on another planet, or dead, we are in the run-up to a general election. For those not in the know, the run-up to a general election consists of a period of some weeks that actually feel like months when eventually we will elect yet another band of useless individuals who will spend the next five years fudging issues and basically not getting very much done.
One of the many things that won’t get done (excepting that the streets of Scotland – led by an extraordinarily smug woman – will be paved in gold at our expense) is action to sort out our road infrastructure. We, as lone voices, can make little impression on the corridors of power which is why we need excellent organisations like the Institute of Advanced Motorists to lobby the suits on our behalf.
The IAM have carried out a survey with the intent of encouraging the next incumbents to make road safety a top priority. More than fifty per cent of motorists believing the current administration have not made the issue enough of a concern, just like previous governments in fact which is why are roads are in such lousy condition.
A total of 2,156 people took part in the IAM survey throughout March 2015. The number one gripe amongst those who answered the poll said reducing the number of potholes should be the government’s number one action point, with 70 per cent of respondents voting for this. How often has this cropped up yet I still see quick, cheap solutions being applied to long-term problems.
With the backlog of repairs now topping £12 billion according to the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA), the organisation stated funding a long term action plan must be an early priority for any new government. The AIA also said at the end of March that money spent on filling 2.7 million potholes in the past year had been “wasted.” No surprises there then.
The next biggest concern for road users was that of general road maintenance, with more than 64% of those surveyed stating this needed more attention. Third in the list was reducing the number of road accidents and casualties for all age groups, with 52% of respondents saying it should be a greater government concern. Road crashes still cost the UK economy £15.6 billion every year, apparently.
According to the Department for Transport the number of those killed or seriously injured on UK roads has increased by 4 per cent as of September 2014 in comparison to 2013. Neil Greig, IAM director of policy and research, said: “No government can be complacent about these figures and we all need to do more to reduce the numbers killed and injured on our roads. Cuts in visible policing and road safety spending have had an impact. While these figures cannot be regarded as a trend, they are a major concern that the new Parliament must address.”
My voice, amongst many, has constantly trumpeted this theme. There is absolutely no substitute for cops on the ground. The dreaded machines monitor speed alone and and pay no heed to the other one hundred and one stupid things that some motorists do. These are the things that used to be spotted by vigilant police who took appropriate action from a friendly warning to some jail time, depending, rather than just collecting fines.
The fourth aspect of motoring life respondents to the IAM survey wanted to see changed was the current driving test. The survey revealed over 4% of motorists thought the UK driving test is not fit for purpose and would like to see the government make it more relevant to today’s driving landscape.
As part of the IAM’s key road safety goals, embracing changes to the driver training system can help reduce new driver risk in the first six months of solo driving. The IAM manifesto advocates the delivery of theory and hazard perception tests in education establishments, a practical test that includes high speed roads and a graduated licensing system that ensures all new drivers undertake a minimum learning period prior to taking the practical test. I would like to add my own call for a year-long probation period too.
And rounding out the top five, 39% of respondents wanted to see an increase in sentences for those guilty of serious motoring offences. We can also do our bit by lobbying our MP wanting to see this happen. Speed is not necessarily the devil incarnate. Idiots who use mobile devices and the like – and I see them daily because there is no visible deterrent – are, arguably, even more dangerous than the driver who wields his very modern, very safe car at a few miles per hour over the speed limit.
I urge the motoring organisations to shout even louder than the lunatic fringe of car-haters to demand the next Westminster bunch get it sorted out pronto. As individuals we can also do our bit by lobbying our new MPs after the election – if it ever arrives.
With thanks to the IAM for the facts.