Wednesday, April 13, 2005

On the road to nowhere

I wasn't surprised to read that they've set up speed cameras on the M4 motorway. We live in an era of gesture politics. Being seen to do something matters more than getting results. Speed cameras are sprouting like weeds on every street corner, and yet the road accidents continue to rise.

Despite all the evidence of motorway accidents being caused by factors other than speeding (tailgating, driver fatigue etc...) the Wiltshire local authority thinks it knows better, and has decided to prosecute anyone going over 70mph on the stretch of the motorway that falls under it's jurisdiction. Motorways (known as expressways in the U.S.) have traditionally been the one road that law enforcers have taken a more relaxed attitude to. They are not only the fastest roads but also the safest, carrying 20% of all road traffic but accounting for only 5% of accidents.

But in an era of slogans, the mantra "speed kills" has more impact (excuse the pun) than all the facts and figures that motoring groups can muster. As the speed camera lobby keep telling us, the slower you drive, the more likely you are to survive. In that case, why not revive the red flag act ? No one would actually get anywhere, but we'd all be alive. And why were at it, how about banning planes in case they crash, and banning trains in case they get derailed?

Progress is all about taking risks, if we never tooks risks, there would be no industrial revolution, no medical advances and no technological progress, we'd still be living in caves. Cars were invented in order to get us from A - B quickly. As a result, families have been brought closer, people can travel to where there are jobs, and our economy has prospered.

When it comes to transport, we are certainly living in an era of unprecedented progress...nearly all of it backwards!