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Improve driving standards in Britain, and get cars off the road in stages

Comment 2nd July 2010

My idea would be reasonably simple. First, we need to tighten up on driving standards in the UK. Finland is a great example of where driving standards are extremely stringent. I cycle everywhere around London and the quality of driving (as well as the quality of the roads) is a danger not just to my health (and my life) but to everyone who seeks to use the road as a means to transit oneself from home to work and onward, rather than a speedtrack, something you would find in a computer game perhaps. If people are caught speeding at a dangerous rate — ie 40 mph or more in a 30mph zone, they should be banned for speeding for a year, or given community service. It's not acceptable to allow one person to damage another's health simply because he or she is driving a half-tonne of metal around. My girlfriend also cycles around London and I worry about her. Most drivers are both good people and have passed their driving test but I doubt that that can be said about many people in the UK capital and beyond.

A secondary point is that we need to get cars off the road and people on public transport. Sadly your decision to scrap a new generation of high speed trains (understandable in the current era of austerity but still a worrying short term decision). Cars are not the way forward, at least in the form that we know them. London and the UK should become a pioneer of electric cars….there are a few around but the number is still pathetically small. We should be investing in infrastructure that forces electric cars to take precedent rather than leaving this process to the private sector, which will only (given the car industry's continuing awe of the standard oil-powered automobile) happen in glacially slow stages. 

Yours sincerely

Elliot Wilson

Why does this matter?

It's important because how we drive around and how we purport ourselves in life is one and the same thing. The more careful we purport ourselves on our roads, and the more consideration we give to one another when we are driving and cycling, transposes itself onto how we are to each other as indiviuals, as human beings. Life can't simply be about a rat race….it has to be about more than that. We are a nation of poor drivers. It's too easy to pass a driving test. The reasons for this are clear — we are a nation and a treasury in thrall to driving-related tax revenues and pesronal freedom and mobility. But life doesn't have to be all about the car, and the thread of life shouldn't rest on the relatively poverty of the driving ability of the lorry or bus or car driver seeking to get to work ahead of time and endangering cyclists, pedestrians, and motorbike owners.

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