Friday, November 09, 2007

Holding fast to our freedoms

It’s a basic fact of human existence that placing yourself inside a fast-moving metal box on wheels endows you with super powers and the wisdom of Solomon. Why governments fail to recognise this and give motorists extra rights accordingly is the great mystery – and scandal – of our age.

In the face of the suggestion that breaking the speed limit by a lot should result in more penalty points than breaking it by a bit, there’s been the predictable uproar from Safe Speed, the self-styled “road safety campaign” whose primary aim seems to be the abolition of speed cameras. It turns out that they don’t just dislike this idea as well, but they don’t like speed limits at all.

Their press release says:

We all know that it's important that no on should drive too fast, but the speed limit cannot tell us what too fast is.

Quite right too. Tarot cards, pig’s entrails and how much of a hurry you’re in are much better guides to what too fast is.

Drivers will rightly be concerned that they will be faced with losing their licences for six months after two perfectly routine cases of driving safely. We all know that exceeding the speed limit isn't automatically dangerous.

Quite right too. And jumping a red light isn’t automatically dangerous either, if your good, plain, down-to-Earth common sense tells you it’ll probably be all right. Likewise, driving while drunk won’t automatically cause a crash, and firing a gun randomly into the street won’t necessarily kill anyone.

Why can this fascist nanny state of ours not understand that most of us are much better drivers than average, and that we’re quite capable of judging our own safety standards?

This is where the logic of ‘social responsibility’ can take you.

(Declaration of interest: my dad was knocked down by a van this week. No major injury, thankfully.)

(Second declaration of interest: I use roads and am made of flesh and bone.)

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