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Reform of Road Traffic Act

Comment 1st July 2010

Imagine a world where people are trained to drive responsibly and properly and then having qualified as fit and proper are allowed onto the public highway with other users.

Imagine if we trusted these people to drive responsibly and only penalised them when they committed a crime; be it damage to property or injury to a person.

Imagine if speed limits were advisory and the responsibility of actions rested with the driver.

Imagine if cameras were unnecessary, speeding was largely irrelevant (perhaps a maximum on certain class roads). Imagine if the speed limit didn't keep going up to 40, then 50 then down to 30 and so on. Imagine if Police powers were limited to dangerous driving or defective vehicles, theft and actual criminal offences.

Wouldn't the whole country be a less stressful place.

I advocate a scrapping of speed limits and speeding offences within the maximum national speed limit and a decriminalising of human error in favour of alignment with actual criminal damage and injury offences. Putting the consequences of action back in the hands of the driver and trusting the public to be responsible and to drive with discretion. More resources can then be switched from policing the public to policing crime and pursuing the guilty rather than the innocent.

Forty and Eighty miles per hour would be more than sensible Urban and Freeway speed limits. Twenty is an insult to driver intelligence and really only follows the logic of banning cars altogether (the safest possible solution) rather than a practical and responsible driving policy. Give the responsibility back to the driver and they will act responsibly, or face the consequences, instead of a system designed largely to catch-them-out.

Recognising the huge advances in car technology and safety features is also important, as are diverting funds to pedestrian schems and mandatory speed cameras outside of schools and hospitals.

Why does this matter?

It decriminalises acts which (in the absence of damage or injury) are largely draconian and non-criminal. It places the emphasis on the individual to act responsibly and it reduces the cost of policing, level of petty criminalisation and cost of road signage. It simplifies the system and it makes it more flexible.

The Road Traffic Act is virtually the only act under which you can be prosecuted for a crime you haven't yet committed (i.e. driving fast is dangerous – no it's not, but the consequences of it CAN BE dangerous). By brining it into line with criminal damage or injury, it makes the law more sensible and applicable. It is time this change is made to return civil liberties to the largely innocent majority, while keeping approrpriate checks and balances in place for the revocation of licenses and the stopping of danger vehicles.

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