Responsibility and safety on our roads

Seventy-one people are killed or seriously injured on our roads every day. Motorists complain about cyclists several of whom they have killed in recent months in London alone. Cyclists are reported to have attacked pedestrians and pedestrians fixated on mobile devices expect greater care from other road users than they are prepared to take of themselves.

Airlines pilots know that they are likely to die if they crash. Motorists know that they may well not die, not with seat belts, air-bags, side impact bars and bull-bars which  protect them, but not potential victims outside the vehicle. The difference between these two groups is that the former, like train drivers and ships’ captains, know that involvement in a crash or an accident of some kind will result in their suspension, at least until responsibility for the incident is established.

Motorists do not. No one wants to see lethal consequences for poor drivers, but a means of confronting them about their poor driving could save some of the daily carnage on our roads; imagine the uproar if train crashes claimed seventy victims every day. However there is a means to hand, the same system of suspension applied following serious incidents in these three safer means of transport imposed on all motorists involved in accidents, in order to ensure that the person responsible for an accident does not continue to drive and put others at risk. To this end we could automatically suspend any driver involved in a road accident until the cause had been established. Drivers involved in an accident for which they were found not to be responsible would be entitled to compensation from the person responsible.

Given the sheer number of accidents on our roads, monitoring them would seem an impossible task. However, if, as many of us no doubt suspect, drivers are prone to avoid inconvenience and expense, such a system would, I believe, see immediate caution on the part of motorists, and the police and health services would be spared a deal of expense and trouble. As roads become more and more congested and vehicles grow larger such a system at least merits a trial.

I am a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists and for three years rode to work around the Hanger Lane interchange where the North Circular meets the A40, rather than risk colliding with pedestrians in the subways where cyclists and pedestrians had to make their ways within a metre or so of each other.

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