Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Easy Money

I haven't had an accident for 10 years, and that was when a lady drove into the rear of my car. I have never stolen a car, I have not killed a person in a car. I have no current points on my licence. If ever I get a parking fine or late congestion charge, I pay it without question. While that should make me a decent driver, I am precisely the target of current speeding campaigns.

You see it's hard work catching car thieves, joy riders, drink drivers and dangerous drivers, and even if you do they are likely to get off on technicalities. Even if they kill people in the fast lanes of motorways while texting, they can get off by being a peer of the realm. Policing is too much like hard work.

Over the last 10 years, over £1 billion of speeding fines have been collected and are currently clocking up at the rate £250,000 per day. In some areas, mobile cameras have caught people above the limit going one way home for lunch and then caught them going the other way back in the same lunch hour. In one firm I know, there are 9 employees. Not one had ever had a speeding fine, not one had an accident in the last 5 years, not one had ever been convicted of dangerous driving or caused a road death. Yet in a 6 week period in South Wales every one of them had received at least 3 points, and one had clocked up 9 points - all had been caught by mobile cameras.

On one of the roads near my house, two speeding cameras have been placed and I entirely agree with them. They happen to be in a built up area, on a hill where known joy riders whizz by in stolen cars. Of course, as they are in stolen cars they never get convicted. Meanwhile, a mile or so back from this point, the road goes through the country and there have been two fatal car accidents at a specific point on a bend where idiots drive too fast. Despite a tree being festooned with tributes to one of the young lads who died there, no camera has been placed nor has there been any signage put up to warn drivers of the bend or reduce the speed limit. You see, the road goes from one local authority to another.

Of course, this is tax levied on people who are generally good drivers and who do not cause accidents. The very people who cause accidents are not caught or even if they are, it isn't correcting their faults. The current system balances the books and hits targets - it looks as if it does some good. But as we have seen with Government statistics, they easily prove the points they want to make. Reality is always different.

Some day we will get some common sense into how we tackle road safety. Until then, local authorities will just rake in the money and hide behind the make-believe numbers.

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