A Don’s Education

Cambridge classicist Mary Beard goes back to school, for speeding, as part of an “educate not prosecute” campaign. The evidence on these programs’ value is shaky, but Beard seemed somewhat positive about the experience (whether that translates into behavioral change is always an open question).

From her post:

What is more I did learn quite a lot.

For a start I had no idea that only 4% of traffic accidents in the UK took place on motorways (and accounted for only 6% of the road deaths). Nor did I realise quite how much the level of road casualties had fallen over the last 70 or so years — it is now a third of the 7500 that it was (so estimates have it) in the 1930s. In fact one of the heroes of the morning was Leslie Hore-Belisha, not only the inventor of the Belisha Beacon in 1935, but of the Highway Code too, the driving test and various road markings, that are now taken for granted.

Most striking of all was the stuff about the “hard shoulder”. I knew that it is the most dangerous place to be on the motorway. I hadnt realised that average time between stopping on the hard shoulder and being involved in an “incident” was 26 minutes. Can that really be true?

This entry was posted on Friday, March 20th, 2009 at 9:24 am and is filed under Traffic Enforcement, Traffic safety. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “A Don’s Education”

  1. Bossi Says:

    Only two years ago, I was an ardent believer in that motorists were to blame for everything: speeding, running red lights, and driving themselves off the road. Since then, however, I’ve become more convinced that we — transportation engineers and politics — have all inadvertently conspired to be the cause of such behavior. I no longer believe people want to break the law; we just encourage them to do so.

    If a road is designed such that a user can comfortably drive 50 MPH and we post it 30… of course there will be speeding. If we have a straightaway whereby users could drive 200 MPH and then we throw in a 15 MPH curve… signing doesn’t cut it; the speed needs to be reduced geometrically. Every problem, with adequate resources, can be mitigated through design.

    Education & enforcement vs. engineering; protection & warning vs. hazard removal… so much will & resources are spent on band-aid treatments. Granted, there’s some successes with education programs and enforcement has its place; but I tend to feel that there are better uses of resources.

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