Today I found a new application on the Google Map. It reads: Transportation for America’s Dangerous by Design 2011. This application shows car accidents with the following fatalities in the USA.Within 60 miles of any chosen state or address, the map reveals all details of the accident.Map marker shows as well a Street View of where the fatality occurred.It does really scare once you type a bigger state than New Hampshire.
If you read the news about Oxfordshire speed cameras, you will agree with me, that it would make sense to expand this application not only through the USA, but the other countries too, so people are aware what is going on the roads they might take today.
This application makes me think about the switched off cameras across Oxfordshire which tested the usefulness of the cameras and the corresponding drivers’ behavior. The cameras were switched off for the whole 8 months, but the first 5 days they did record and showed that as soon as no cameras existed on the roads, drivers simply ignore any speed limits (read more here) This must be expected for switched off cameras does not encourage self discipline.
The main reason for making this experiment? Experiment.I can hardly agree on this word: an experiment. Normally, experiments do not last for such a long time and the period of 8 months looks like an attempt to implement and keep the new rule.
The answer is simple and everyone can guess – it is a matter of business and money.
Mark Huges explains in his article “Speeding drivers revel in Oxford’s great switch-off” that “… the county council had its central-government Road Safety Grant of £1m cut by £300,000. In turn, the council cut the budget of the Thames Valley Safer Roads Partnership – the group which maintains the speed camera network in Oxfordshire – by £600,000 and, in effect, forced the switching off of every speed camera in the county”.
The next point, Mark Huges sees in the collected fines that are fewer than what the Government spends on road safety, including the purchasing of cameras.
This is disgusting. For saving the money, local councils were playing with people’s lives:“ Since then, 18 people have been killed in road accidents in the county, compared with 12 deaths in the same period for the previous year…. In addition, 179 people were seriously injured, compared with 160 in the previous year” (read more here). But what if the only reason of the death lays in that experiment?
The more I read about Oxfordshire, the more I realized that the politics of this experiment was well-engineered. That served a push for motorist to dominate over the highways and roads. I found some readers’ comments to the next article weird, like the following one about the speed limit on A40 or A420 and a reader says : “This limit is stupid, antiquated and dangerous but it doesn’t stop us getting fined by cameras for doing the terrible speed of 50 just to keep the traffic moving.” And there are lot of people who will agree upon that. Moreover, some supported the idea of the switched off cameras.
I found one interesting blog of a journalist George Monbiot, who is writing a weekly column for the Guardian newspaper. In his article concerning Oxfordshire, G.Monbiot does not skip the fact that people burn the cameras , that they support the regulation and moreover believe that its implementation is the right one: “Sixteen of Lincolnshire’s 52 cameras, for example, have been destroyed by vandalism, in many cases by fire. In the Scottish borders, 19 have been burnt out since 2004. These acts are raucously celebrated on the boy racer sites.” Monbiot dismissed an idea of taxation and the fact that cameras cost more to operate than the revenue received for the road safety. He adds:” …journalists and others have promulgated a powerful and dangerous myth: that speed cameras are useless, and exist only to tax the public….. the tabloid myth is what the people who have been snapped by the cameras want to hear. Instead of being a danger to the public, they are, journalists tell them, innocent victims of a government mugging. ”
If you read his article to the end, you notice how George Monbiot criticizes journalists, writing what the people want to hear and creating an agitation by that. Criticize but not blame.
P.S. I think there is a simple and gold rule that if you don’t want to be fined – you will drive at the correct speed and you are less likely to be involved in an accident. Until that, the fatalities do not stop. On the 8th June a 79-year old man lost his life driving in A40, on the road where drivers do ignore the speed limits.