One of the main problems with the roads is that everyone believes it’s their God-given right to drive. No matter how bad they are at it, now matter now reckless or absent-minded, nobody is going to stop them.
The current testing system does nothing but justify this. A single test, to a low standard, once… for life? Then there’s the scapegoating – it’s always boy racers, women drivers, foreign drivers; completely unthinkable that a middle-aged, white male might be a bad driver.
We also fall foul of the fallacy that experience is measured in years. Somehow a 21 year old who has covered over a million miles since passing their test at 17 and taken extended after-test training, is inherently “less experienced” than a 45 year old who, in the last 10 years has only driven a mile to work and back every day.
One thing I’ve come to prefer in good driving commentary is statements like “1 behind, good gap” to a generic “mirror”. I’ve noticed even with myself it’s far too easy to look at the mirror, say “mirror” and not actually take account of what I’m seeing in it.
I think this is something that develops with standard driver training. When we learn to drive, we’re continually told to check our mirrors, so we move our heads, we look at the mirror… but that’s where it ends. It’s almost tokenistic. In fact there’s something a little wrong even with the idea of telling someone to check their mirror – the mirror is the means, not the end. The idea of checking mirrors in this manner is fundementally flawed.
I read in my last IAM group newsletter an article entitled “Uninsured drivers cost motorists £1.25 million a year”. The article quoted a representative of Brake, saying it was “shocking” that there were so many young people driving without insurance.
I must disagree. If one were to call it “unfortunate” or even “unacceptable” that there are so many young people driving without insurance, that would be a different matter, but “shocking” I cannot agree with. “Shocking” implies surprise. It implies that we should not expect this to be the case. If we really think about it though, it’s not surprising whatsoever.
I’ve just got back from a camping trip in Derbyshire. It’s home to some fantastic roads including the well-known Cat and Fiddle – well known for having the highest recorded accident rate in the UK. I deliberately refrain however from the phrase “most dangerous road in the UK”; the Cat and Fiddle, like any road, can be driven quite safely. Characteristically, it is like many roads in the region, with a mixture of tight bends, other vehicles and other hazards, but also featuring straight sections and in some places, fair views of the road ahead.
The thing that struck me, not having been to the region for a while, was the almost scatter gun approach to road safety. The sheer mass of road now red-ringed to 50 MPH; the mass application of no-overtaking areas; ridiculously densely-placed warning signs; speed camera vans placed on straight sections, not to catch those flying dangerously into a corner, but those creeping up to 56 while accelerating onto a straight.