Those poor drivers
- I think this news release is endemic of the new generation of anglo-western
culture. That is, it's never my fault, and everything I get I am entitled
to, without any responsibility for. Just as teenagers feel entitled to the
wealth of entertainment at their disposal, without the responsibility of
balancing it with physical activity and social responsibility, drivers feel
entitled to an unencumbered road where they can externalize their costs and
threats (speeding, non-compliance) at the expense of others. And when all
else fails, play the safety card.
IAM CHIEF WARNS THAT DRIVER ALIENATION "IS NOT IN THE INTEREST OF ROAD
Issued: 8 December 2004
Safety on UK roads is at risk because drivers feel "targeted, vulnerable and
alienated", said John Maxwell, chairman of the Institute of Advanced
Speaking at the IAM's annual lunch in London, Mr Maxwell said that motorists
are made to believe that congestion, delay, environmental pollution and, not
least, the accident toll, is all their fault.
"Car drivers and motorcyclists are not just part of the problem: they can be
- and need to be - part of the solution. Treat them fairly and get them back
on-side, and there will be a rapid pay-back - not necessarily in the way
that the Treasury appears to understand best, but for road safety."
Specifically, it was the IAM's regret that there has been a "dismal failure
to 'sell' the safety benefits of speed cameras - allowing them, instead, to
be misunderstood as instruments of entrapment and fund-raising," said Mr
"Cameras are frequently sited where drivers believe them to be unnecessary,
with a trigger mechanism that is lacking in discretion and penalty notices
that arrive like overdue invoices. Too many road-users believe that speed
cameras are nothing more than nice little earners, and that getting caught
is less about discouraging dangerous driving than playing a game of chance."
In fact, Mr Maxwell argued, cameras have a "legitimate and valuable role in
enforcing compliance, as distinct from ensuring capture", and there must be
an urgent review of camera locations. In addition, all camera sites should
clearly show the speed limit at that point, with more repeater signs needed
on restricted roads.
Mr Maxwell said: "Rehabilitating speed cameras - re-defining them as
instruments of compliance, not capture - would do much to take the pressure
off the vast majority of sensible drivers and riders who need little
persuading that safety is common sense and should always come first."
Also necessary, says the IAM, is a review of speed limits, recognising the
change in enforcement methods. Limits need be seen to be right if they are
to earn respect and to be observed, and the message must be that, whatever
the speed limit, it is inappropriate speed that kills.
There should, said Mr Maxwell, be an "imaginative and positive response" to
the Road Safety Bill, which already contains elements of driver
re-education. And there needs to be more, not fewer, traffic police on UK
roads. "A blue light and a sharp word will always have more effect, and earn
more respect, than electronic surveillance and a penalty notice through the
Guest speaker at the IAM Annual Lunch was North Wales Chief Constable and
ACPO Head of Road Policing Richard Brunstrom.
Notes to editors:
1. John Maxwell was previously Director General of the AA.
2. The full text of the IAM Annual Lunch speech is available from the IAM
Press Office, 020 8996 9600.
3. The IAM is the UK's leading advance driving organisation. For nearly 50
years the IAM has been saving lives by enabling people to drive and ride
4. For further information please contact Vince Yearley on 020 8996 9600 or
visit www.iam.org.uk, where a downloadable IAM logo image is available for