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Graham Hurdle blog: 14th August: are road safety groups just a pawn in the Government's game?

Date: 14 August 2014

Graham Hurdle is managing director of E-Training World

The major Road Safety Groups are always saying speed kills and that we need to take a tougher stance on drivers who blatantly disregard the law and have no respect for others people's safety.

Yet when the Government recently said it was considering allowing magistrates to fine motorists up to £10,000 for speeding on a motorway, there was mixed reaction.

In agreement was James McLoughlin, from road safety charity Brake, who backed tougher penalties for speeding drivers.

He said: "Speed is one of the biggest killers on our roads and, through the support we provide for victims of road crashes, we bear witness to the devastating effects of speeding.

"Limits are there for a reason, and more needs to be done to deter those who choose to put other road users at risk by breaking them."

Yet Edmund King, president of the Automobile Association, told the Daily Telegraph: 'For the vast majority of drivers the prospect of the existing £2,500 fine is a pretty good deterrent against excessive speeding on the motorway.

'We would not condone excessive speeding in any way but fines have to be proportionate to the offence and one has to question whether increasing the fines four-fold is proportionate, and it probably is not."

There were other viewpoints beyond these, but I choose these because they come from two very high profile and respected organisations in the field of motoring and road safety.

So, who is right?

In my mind, probably both! The reason I say this is that I concur that more does need to be done to deter those who choose to put other road users at risk.

But I also agree that fines have to be proportionate to the offence because otherwise it leaves us with a whole host of issues in implementing it.

So here we have 2 very opposing arguments and, call me cynical if you wish, but I'd suggest that this is precisely what the Government hoped for. i.e. more argument and debate than action!

In fact I'd go as far as saying that I feel our friends in Parliament don't actually believe this will be implemented in the way it's been proposed. I'd suggest this is a clever tactic to make them look like they are taking road safety seriously but knowing they have tabled something that will create a long and very protracted review and evaluation process.

Which leaves me thinking that once again the road safety sector is being used as a pawn in the Government's game of spin to make them look good, raise profile of an important issue but to trivialise it by simply polarising opinions rather than table something far more realistic that we could all agree on. 

If you don't agree with me I'll draw your attention to one simple line from the BBC report on this. It simply reads "Any new legislation would first have to be debated in Parliament but there is no current timetable for any such discussion".  I rest my case. In my mind this is far more to do with the Government raising its profile than it is to do with raising speeding fines.



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