ONCE again serious road accidents throw up the call for controls and restrictions, as well as the spectre of ‘blackspots’ and ‘roads of death’.
The Brake road safety organisation and residents immediately call for devices that they contend will have an effect on road casualties. When will someone look a little closer at each individual incident and assess what happened?
Recently reported road accidents tell their own story, as anyone witnessing the late night, early morning driving habits of some drivers will attest. Speed limits are recklessly ignored as well as most of the guidance in the Highway Code.
The only apparent control of this manic situation is via speed cameras which serve the purpose of slowing drivers at those locations and nowhere else.
I suggest that actual average speeds in speed restricted areas are far higher than in the days before speed cameras. A Brake spokesperson said recently: “They are proven to slow traffic and reduce the number of deaths and injuries where they are placed.’’
Exactly. “Where they are placed’’ – and they just happen to raise a few bob too.
Cameras and other hi-tech devices now mean less and sometimes no traffic police enforcement. The consequence is that many offences are no longer on the radar. So we have more driving under the influence, driving with defective vehicles and potentially the most threatening, uninsured drivers.
The latter, a growing problem, presents all legal road users with the potential of being in an accident where they will definitely be the loser, however much the other driver is at fault. How many appreciate they pay extra on their insurance premiums to cover for this travesty?
My message to Brake and residents affected by accidents on their doorstep is to get out and assess the complete picture. How many incidents involve reckless, often young people, who might well have been driving while on the phone, adjusting the sound level of their in-car sound system or trying to light a cigarette ?
As someone who both drives a car and rides motorcycles I view my use of the road as a privilege rather than a right, but don’t wish to see that situation affected by palliatives that claim to make our roads safer.
Nothing wrong with road
ON the subject of Meltham Road and the recent accidents there – there’s nothing wrong with the road except for the irresponsible parking of some residents, especially at Big Valley.
In my experience the majority of drivers proceed with caution having now got the hang of it all. No matter what and how many safety measures Kirklees are bulldozed into doing, they will not prevent young males from driving dangerously at night.
The £40k on ‘improved lighting, red high friction anti-skid surfacing, new improved road lighting studs (cats eyes) and vehicle activated signs’ sound to me like a waste of money and a PR exercise to pacify the natives – that is, until the next serious accident comes along.
On Meltham itself, as a resident of Meltham of 38 years and a car driver of 50 years who now travels down to the village at least once a day, I have been interested in the comments in the Mailbag concerning the recent traffic calming measures, especially now things have started to settle down a bit.
It seems to me that they have had the desired effect of slowing down most of the traffic, thus making it safer for pedestrians and motorists alike.
However, three things still stand out:
There is still some confusion at the mini roundabouts as a result of some drivers apparently unaware/ignoring the procedures. Particularly annoying is the lack of use of indicators.
Some pedestrians remain their own worst enemies in attempting to cross the roads in suicide fashion, especially at the top of Station Street.
What is really annoying are those idle beggars who insist on parking outside the front of the Co-op creating a danger to both pedestrians and drivers.
Perhaps Kirklees got this one almost right?
A broader approach
I UNDERSTAND the concerns of residents of Meltham Road as I used to live where there were frequent accidents – one involving a car hitting my house.
The frequent accidents where I lived were due to loss of control on large manhole covers – slippery when wet – on a slight crest and bend.
Once these were removed accidents became rare, showing that road engineering can improve safety.
I suggest that several accidents (and countless near misses) on Meltham Road occur as a result of vehicles moving out to pass residents’ parked cars.
Parked cars restrict the width and many drivers either are unsure of the width of their vehicle or simply assume the opposing traffic will move over to let them through.
Road humps on Meltham Road would cause increased noise and vibration for residents and may even lead to more loss of control incidents.
The insertion of islands at the wider stretches near the viaduct has possibly led to unsafe overtaking elsewhere along this road.
Humps and speed cameras seem to be the first and only solution called for, but a broader approach to safety could be more effective.
Time for a radical solution
NOT in a million years would it occur to Kirklees Council or its elected members to try applying a reasonable speed limit to Meltham Road, which might actually be adhered to.
To suggest speed humps – as one woman has – shows an almost laughable lack of realism.
A common thread running through the accidents on Meltham Road is time of day – mostly they happen late at night.
All efforts by Kirklees so far appear to have made matters worse.
Is it time to try something really radical?
Money to good use
RE ‘Seesaw fall family launch legal case’, Examiner, July 12, with regard to their legal case against Kirklees Council, the Geisler family assure us ‘We’re not doing it for the money’.
In that case I invite them to nominate the charity which will benefit from the compensation payout they may receive at the expense of the Kirklees Council taxpayer.
Anti Compensation Culture Man
Tough times for schools
ANYONE reading your July 7 article on the excellent work going on at Golcar Junior, Infant and Nursery School must have been impressed.
The children are visibly making the most of a well-equipped school – a school of which they, their families and all of us can be proud.
Contrary to the view of reader Peter Garside (Public v Private, Mailbag July 5) schools like this and equally well-equipped hospitals is what Labour ‘squandered’ our money on, rather than – in Mr Garside’s words – ‘things we did not need’.
We did indeed need them because the Tories had run down our schools, our hospitals and our town and city centres.
Before the 1997 election the Thatcher/Major governments ‘rolled back the state’, told us we should all look after ourselves and starved the public sector, including the services we depend on and the places where most of us spend much of our lives.
An Examiner headline from 1996 shows the effect of Tory policies locally: Novel way to ease the loss of teachers at Golcar (May 27).
Learning that they were to lose another two teachers and troubled at increasing class sizes, Golcar parents began fundraising in an attempt to pay the teachers’ salaries.
Unfortunately there are signs that we may in future see similar headlines when present-day Tory policies begin to bite.
Now that Education Minister Michael Gove has halted Labour’s building programme intended to refurbish or even replace inadequate school buildings, there will be many children less fortunate than those now at Golcar JIN.
Despite the coalition’s massive PR exercise ‘justifying’ the huge cuts in public spending on the grounds that our very survival depends on reducing the national deficit, Gove isn’t handing over the billions saved to the Treasury.
He’s using them to fund ‘free’ schools on a Swedish model, depriving existing schools, their children and the community that uses them in pursuit of an idea that the Swedes themselves say makes schools more unequal and does not raise standards.
Surely even Mr Garside must recognise that this is squandering money on things we do not need? Worse, it is risking the future of the children whose schools will now lose out so that ‘free’ schools can exist.
All parents should be aware of this risk to their child’s education and should oppose a policy that sacrifices the future of millions of children so that the Tories can indulge in an ideological experiment that undermines public educational provision.
M P McGrail (Dr)
Waste of space?
SO The Royal Institute of British Architects have shortlisted St George’s Square for an award saying the open space enhances the existing architecture.
Wasn’t it an open space before the revamp? After £4m what have we got for the money – ‘an open space’ a few fountains and trees? Not to forget the urinal, of course.
Hardly an architectural gem or value for money.