Monday, 15 January 2007

Driven Mad

According to UK Government statistics, deaths from road accidents are decreasing. For example, in 2002 there were 3,431 deaths of road users in accidents, compared with an annual average figure of 3,578 in 1994-98, and 5,846 in 1981. The number of pedestrians killed each year has fallen steadily since the mid-1990s, although the number of car users killed was little changed over the same period.

Nevertheless, in my experience, driving standards seem to be slipping. For example, in the relatively short distance I walk during my daily commute, I noticed in just one week the following minor infringements:

  • A driver on the phone, his car swaying around a roundabout.
  • A taxi overtaking a queue of cars (including one police car) on the inside.
  • A car overtaking a bus on the pavement.
  • A motorbike turning left from a right-turn only lane (with no indicators).
  • A car turning left at a crossroads across traffic from a right-turn only lane.
  • A driver in a queue leaning on the horn after a red light just changed.
  • A van driver on the phone.
  • A car stopping well past the line at traffic lights.
  • Four cars turning right from a straight-on-or-left-turn lane.
  • A van going through a red light.
Why is this? Here are some possible reasons:

  • People always seem to be in a hurry to get to work, to get to the shops, to get home again...
  • Perhaps it can be put down to general selfishness; maybe there is less regard for others than there should be.
  • There's a less visible police presence now than I remember in the past.
  • Do the police now turn a blind eye to minor infringements anyway?
  • There seems to be less respect for law in general.
  • Perhaps better car design gives drivers a greater sense of security.
  • With roads generally more crowded than in the past, there's probably a temptation to take extra risks just to make progress.
  • Drivers forget that other vehicles contain real, flesh and blood, people.

It certainly wouldn't hurt drivers to remember the so-called Golden Rule as they get into their cars: So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you …