Monday, November 24, 2008

How to Have a Road Accident

This morning, as I was lying in bed wishing I'd slept better and getting increasingly annoyed with Heart 106.2, I suddenly realised why so many people are killed on the roads in Britain. It was the annoying traffic report person telling me that "the inside lane of the M1 north bound is blocked due to an accident".

I come from Africa. In my homeland we don't have "inside lanes" or "outside lanes". We have left lanes and right lanes and I'm sure that somewhere we have some middle lanes. But definitely no inside lanes. And neither do we have "offsides" and "nearsides". What on earth are those? What is wrong with left side and right side? Why, when lives depend on clarity, is it necessary to muddy the water with archaic terms?

I have walked down cycle paths before. Adevnturous, I know but hey - I like to live dangerously. I have seen and been thoroughly mystified by the red circle with a picture of a car and a motorcycle at the beginning of the cycle path. Neither have a simple diagonal red slash drawn through them as happens every-bloody-where-sodding-else, so foreign car or motorcycle users could be forgiven for thinking that its perfectly okay to drive down the cycle path. The poor cyclist skewered by their vehicles was, they would argue, riding where only cars and motorcycles are permitted to go.

And speed management. I have driven miles along some roads uncertain as to what the speed limit is. I am one of those drivers who likes to obey the speed limit - my days of being in a tearing hurry are over. I have no desire to be pulled over by the Narks, no desire for points on my licence and even more importantly, no desire to run over a brace of school children. I want to be told, and then constantly remeinded through the medium of the sign, what the limit is. It is not difficult. Instead, you have miles of road, no speed limit signs and then suddenly, a speed camera. Only then, 300 yards after you've been flashed and auto-ticketed, there's a sign that helpfully points out that you should have been doing 30, not 40 as you asssumed.

If the British government was serious about managing speed, they'd be more energetic about informing us and then reminding us constantly about the speeed limit. But it seems they just want the money raised through fines and rely rather heavily on catching drivers out.

And why don't they put speed limit signs on the back of their cameras? Sneaky bastards.

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