Doc­tor was not ‘speeding’ at 102mph

The Oban Times - - NEWS - An­drew Green, Dal Ghorm House, Ard­toe.

Sir, I see that a lo­cal doc­tor has been fined and dis­qual­i­fied for driv­ing at 102 miles per hour in Glen­coe ( The Oban

Times, Oc­to­ber 13). In the ab­sence of any dan­ger – and there is no re­port of any mem­ber of the pub­lic be­ing in­volved or af­fected, the most likely ca­su­alty be­ing a stray deer and there are too many of those al­ready – it is dif­fi­cult to see what pur­pose this serves other than to de­prive an al­ready staff-strapped NHS of an ex­pen­sively-trained and highly- skilled doc­tor.

The of­fence here was not speeding, which is trav­el­ling at a ve­loc­ity in­ap­pro­pri­ate to all the pre­vail­ing con­di­tions, but ex­ceed­ing a statu­tory speed limit.

The prob­lem with statu­tory lim­its is that peo­ple drive to them and this de-skills the art of con­trol­ling a ve­hi­cle. There are many oc­ca­sions when 60 can be too slow, just as 30 can be too fast in ad­verse weather or traf­fic con­di­tions.

An­nual fa­tal­i­ties in the UK have stuck at around the 1,800 mark for the past six years and the de­crease in the six years prior to that is more due to im­prove­ments in car de­sign and the pro­tec­tion of oc­cu­pants rather than any en­force­ment ac­tiv­ity.

It is time the po­lice and reg­u­la­tory au­thor­i­ties re­alised that ex­ist­ing trans­port poli­cies are not work­ing and looked at al­ter­na­tive strate­gies. In­deed, there is an ar­gu­ment for the abo­li­tion of all speed lim­its and the pro­mo­tion of bet­ter driv­ing.

It is es­ti­mated that if the driv­ing test stan­dard were in­creased to Po­lice Class 2 or In­sti­tute of Ad­vanced Mo­torists level, road ca­su­al­ties would be re­duced by 75 per cent, but this is a po­lit­i­cally un­ac­cept­able so­lu­tion as the re­sult­ing loss of rev­enue from road tax, fuel du­ties and VAT, plus in­creased re­liance on an al­ready over­loaded pub­lic trans­port sys­tem is too high a price for any gov­ern­ment to pay.

So we are left with a com­pro­mise where the po­lice are happy to hide in the bushes with their speed guns and pur­sue mo­torists for fixed penal­ties while ig­nor­ing the real is­sues and, in the process, ir­repara­bly dam­ag­ing their rep­u­ta­tion in the eyes of the pub­lic.

The po­lice will say, of course, that they do not get the money from fines but this is be­ing eco­nom­i­cal with the truth. It is col­lected by cen­tral gov­ern­ment but paid back to them via the so- called ‘safety’ part­ner­ships, thus keep­ing po­lice ve­hi­cles on the road which would oth­er­wise have to be paid for out of their gen­eral sub­ven­tion.

It is time that the fixed limit and penalty regime is con­signed to the dust­bin of his­tory where it be­longs and driver be­hav­iour is as­sessed using the IAM orig­i­nal motto of ‘Skill with Re­spon­si­bil­ity’.

Only then will we see an ac­cept­able at­ti­tude to road safety and a re­duc­tion in ca­su­al­ties.

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