So, the other day at work, I was browsing the Daily Echo (as it's sold in the canteen, and therefore it's the closest thing to read) and I noticed another in a long line of stories regarding speed cameras and how good/bad they were. There's been a few of them recently, whether it be the announcement that the Wessex Way 40mph limit is continuing, the justification for said announcement after outcry from the common man, the discovery of how much money the Holes Bay camera made in a year, and the question over whether they'll all be shut down.
But I'm not commenting on these as specific stories. Yes, I drive down the Wessex Way to work every day, and yes I wish the speed limit was back to 50 along there (and those of you who read this who are not from Poole/Bournemouth, I'm sorry, you won't have a clue what I'm on about!) but the biggest issue is that it's extremely hard to argue for a raised speed limit.
Because if you argue for a raised speed limit, then you are effectively arguing that it doesn't matter if more people die. Because it can be proved that speed kills. So therefore it's an impossible situation to be in, as shown with the following mathematical equation.
Desire for Higher Speed Limits = CHILD MURDERER!
But do you know what? I don't think that's always true. Let's take the Wessex Way as an example for a moment (and for those of you who don't know it, it's a long, mostly straight dual carriageway, which used to be 50mph all the way along, and now one section of it is 40mph). It's got some short slip roads leading onto it, and therefore I don't think it should be over 50, but other than that there's no pedestrians and therefore I don't see the reasoning for the 40mph limit.
Currently the justification (as listed in one of the articles I linked earlier) states that "between 2004 and 2008, there were an average of 2.4 accidents and 3.3 casualties a month. But between February and May this year, this reduced to an average of 1.5 accidents and 2 casualties – a drop of 37.5 per cent and 39.4 per cent respectively. "
Yes, that looks like an awful lot in the percentage statistics, but in real life that's a drop of 0.9 accidents per month. That's less than one. And that's ignoring the most important issue here, which is that you cannot compare an average gained over four years (which includes time before the alterations were made to the laning etc near the Frizzel end) to an average gained over 3 months. One wonders why they didn't compare a specific February to May section of their statistics to the ones they have gathered. And I suspect that it's because they would have shown bugger all difference.
But enough of that, I know what you're all after. So here it is. Brawny's sarcastic-yet-vaguely-sensible suggestions for how to overhaul our roads.
1) Increase the national speed limit.
Increase it to 100mph. The national limit of 70mph was established in 1965. There weren't many road cars that could drive faster than that in 1965! Everyone speeds on Motorways anyway - and while I don't know the statistics for them (mainly because I can't find them) I wouldn't imagine the fatality rates for driving at 100mph in modern vehicles are much worse than driving at 70.
2) Motorcycle lanes.
I would say this, because I'm a motorcyclist. But it'd be really handy.
3) Strict limits in built up/urban areas.
As much as it pains me to say it (and I hate driving at 20mph as much as the next motorist) but built up and urban areas are higher risk when it comes to driving, due to those irritating-but-not-going-anywhere-soon pedestrians. So keep strict limits. Cameras by schools etc is fine, and indeed I can see as a very good idea.
4) Have a long look at all roads to evaluate speed limits.
This is where all the Wessex Way moaning from earlier fits in. Just look at roads with a sensible eye to gauge the speed it should be. And don't let panicking over-reactionaries make you slow it down.
5) Stop assuming all drivers want to speed.
I hate this assumption. It happens even more with me, since I'm a motorcyclist, have long hair and am still (relatively) young. (Yes, I know I'm turning 30 this year, but I'm still young. Dammit.) People therefore assume I want to ride everywhere at 120mph. Not true. I just want to feel like I'm getting somewhere in the manner that combines the quickest with the safest. And most of the time that works. If we raised the national speed limit and re-evaluated speeds on all the roads, then maybe we'd all get where we are going as quickly and safely as possible.
Oh and I almost forgot...
6) Ban BMW drivers. You know it makes sense.
So what do you think? How would you improve our roads? Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.