Investigation versus Traffic Delay.
Coach Driver’s Quote: "if they possibly can they’ll close both carriageways for a broken wing mirror”.
A SUMMARY OF THE PROBLEM:
Many of us have strong views on drink driving, speeding etc. Traffic delays due to accidents and road works cause major annoyance and legislation fuelled by frantic press demands pours out weekly.
This said, many of our current motoring problems stem directly from this very pressure and government response. Health and safety, political correctness and over zealous forensic investigation (just because we can) merely add to the problem. Clearly our police officers, highway workers and other emergency personnel are entitled to safe working conditions and none of us would disagree with their oft-expressed desire “to go home alive at the end of our shifts”.
We hear daily on radio that two, three or four motorway sections have been shut down completely, slip roads closed, lanes reduced or rolling road blocks put in force…….and why? An accident, a caravan on its side, a lorry jack-knifed, a fire on the hard shoulder, an object on the carriageway, a fuel or chemical spillage, road works, a vehicle in contact with a bridge, an unexplained police incident, an investigation and other recurrent explanations.
Sometimes it is hoped to have the carriageway open “in a day or two”, “by this time tomorrow,” “by tonight or in a few hours” and meanwhile traffic tails back, becomes trapped and the people involved are unable to go about their normal lives for intolerable periods. Millions of working hours are lost, tragic social costs incurred, valuable vehicles and machinery immobilised and costly fuel wasted.
Years ago when a road accident occurred, the injured were released by the fire brigade if trapped and taken away by ambulance; police chalked the position of the vehicles and then obtained details of the drivers, vehicles and witnesses and arranged for recovery; the road was then re-opened. In the event of a fatality, photographs would be taken and the Coroner informed. Other formalities were dealt with in a safely parked patrol car or police station and the scene fully examined later. Keeping the highway open was a major priority!
MY IDEA IS INITIALLY TO ESTABLISH:
How many drivers the subject of these long forensic investigations and health and safety measures actually come to court, are convicted and banned for life; how many return to the motorway to repeat their offences?
How many lives are saved? How is the phenomenal cost of all this inconvenience measured against improved driving standards?
What is the justification for hours of repetitive research into the ******** obvious?
Should there be a new offence or civil redress for selfish third parties causing unnecessary delay on a public highway by anti-social or seriously incompetent driving?
Does anyone know?
WHAT IS TO BE DONE?
This whole subject needs thorough independent examination but the following possible solutions might be worth consideration:
A Highway Complaints Authority should be initiated like the Police Complaints Commision.
A Senior Emergency Officer should be placed in command of every incident likely to cause more than minor (say 15 minutes) delay and required to account formally for excessive periods. A 35 mile tailback should require automatic and full independent investigation .
Apart from prosecutions under the RTAs for causing death, dangerous & careless driving etc. a new offence of causing unnecessary obstruction and delay to other road users should be introduced.
Individuals suffering significant loss and expense should have easy redress against such offenders for resultant loss and damage and insurers required to underwrite them in their motor policies.
Vehicles and equipment should be cleared from the carriageway immediately (with Crown Indemnity for damage) by heavy-duty recovery vehicles on stand-by 24/7 under the supervision of the new yellow and black Traffic Department.
The obstructing vehicle(s) or equipment would then have to wait to be removed from the hard-shoulder, hedge, ditch etc. till overnight or whenever safety and traffic conditions permitted but at the expense of those responsible for it’s immobility…….certainly not from the public purse.
Why does this idea matter?
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT
Not since the dark days of Dick Turpin have the Queens Highways been so obstructed and travellers regularly and unjustifibly delayed. Dick’s actions were illegal but today the “hold-ups” stem from the results of excessive officialdom and unnecessary legislation.
The consequences of selfish and irresponsible action by third parties are compounded by a paranoiac and obsessive culture which has been visited on the well-intentioned people employed to help us.
Freedom dictates that time and money lost by the innocent motorist citizen should be compensated by those responsible, whether they be irresponsible offenders or over-zealous and unanswerable officials.