AutoCognition calls for a ban on bans

Driving is a calculated risk, but it is looking like many organisations are getting their sums in a twist. Since all activities have some inherently unsafe aspect, in order to achieve complete security it would be better to stay tucked-up in bed, remembering of course to switch off the electric blanket first and promising not to talk to any strange men. Eventually, forces of nature will compel an expedition beyond the duvet and it is from then that the risks have to be balanced with the benefits.


This is not to say that safety regulations should be treated with macho disdain, they are, after all, designed to help us even as they hinder us. For example, Government research has found that use of mobile phones while driving reduces reaction times by 50%, while alcohol blunts driver performance by 30%. This means that drivers who take the opportunity of being alone in the car to call their lovers are a greater threat to society than those who drive drunk. While this may be factually true, it would be both impractical and unenforceable to ban extra-marital affairs.

And there’s the rub. Many of the activities that are being regulated against are not in themselves dangerous, it is how they are conducted that matters. The soporific tones of Terry Wogan first thing in the morning may do more to reduce cerebral activity than an acid-dipped phone call from the spouse, but it would be impossible, if desirable, to enforce a ban on our Sir Terence. Similarly, the Association of British Drivers (ABD) has criticised those calling for a ban on smoking whilst driving for failing to understand that all distractions are potentially dangerous and so the emphasis needs to be put on the resultant driving style.


Plain bad driving is adequately covered by existing legislation. Failing to have proper control of a vehicle carries the same 3 point penalty on the licence and £60 fine as being caught using a handheld mobile. AutoCognition supports practical and enforceable laws which focus on the end result: safe driving. With some modern cars now able to hold their position in the traffic flow with intelligent cruise control and lane following technology, the odd phone call might even be a welcome intrusion.


FTA hails integrated planning policy 

The Freight Transport Association has given a warm welcome to proposals for a planning commission to look at improving the integration of the UK’s infrastructure system. The organisation has been particularly concerned at the spiralling costs that result from extended public consultations where project’s necessity has already been justified. The consultation process should include local concerns but is often then allowed to challenge the most basic project criteria.


A classic example of this must be the Newbury By-Pass, which became notorious as the Third Battle of Newbury, named after two Civil War actions. This put a temporary halt to the desperately needed trunk road round Newbury and added £23.7m in private security measures alone. The road was then built but with environmental concerns taken into account. A colony of Desmoulin’s whorl snails were shifted to another site, though sadly they were unable to cope with the enforced migration and are now locally extinct. In the meantime, the road is now carrying vastly more traffic than predicted and if a third lane is proposed then the whole planning procedure will start again.

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