DO WE need more speed restrictions on Meltham Road after another crash?
I would not for a minute judge the young man who was severely injured in the crash at Big Valley early Sunday morning.
The courts have dealt with other incidents at the same spot, and the fact that at least three serious accidents have occurred there suggests that something’s not right.
I’m at a loss to figure out what. I’ve travelled that road hundreds of times and never spotted anything inherently dangerous.
So do we want speed restrictions? This was the question posed by the Examiner earlier this week.
The vote on the letters page was a close-run thing with a slight majority in favour of leaving well alone.
That’s where my vote lies. How utterly pointless it would be to bring in the cameras, humps and chicanes that make life a misery for sensible motorists everywhere.
The category of ‘sensible motorist’, incidentally, covers the vast majority of us.
Are we to be punished for the crimes of others? It seems we are.
I think a couple of flashing ‘Slow Down’ signs might be an idea in one or two spots and rumble strips – now almost extinct – always gave me a good shaking up, mentally and aurally, when I was younger and more tempted to break the speed limit.
I’m not sure what the ‘hanged man’ signs are doing, but apparently folk wiser than me say they save lives, so good for them.
This is not an issue that concerns Meltham Road exclusively. Huddersfield roads are over-restricted everywhere.
We don’t need more restrictions, we need more careful drivers. And I’d be the first person to admit that that’s a tall order.
How exactly do you persuade people to wise up and behave responsibly?
All of these Meltham Road accidents could have had causes beyond the capabilities of the drivers to deal with them.
Burst tyres or other mechanical failures, stray animals, the sudden appearance of another motorist behaving dangerously – all could be contributing factors.
Meltham Road is not intrinsically a dangerous one. It has a relatively good surface, replaced in the last five years. It has little negative camber and few natural hazards or restricted sight-lines.
Restrictions placed on it would aggravate the many thousands of careful drivers who use the road without incident, many of them daily. It would do nothing, absolutely nothing, to prevent an act of God, nor indeed would it deter for one instant anyone who thought it a good idea to flaunt the restrictions.
The speed limit on Meltham Road is said to be 30pmh. Reducing it will have no effect on people who like to travel fast and dangerously.
These people are not only undeterred by speed restrictions, they have an even greater incentive to display their supposedly manly ability to break the law and survive.
I say manly, because it’s very rare to find a woman who would risk her life by driving in such a way. Statistics, such as they are, will bear me out on this. Women have more commonsense.
MP Barry Sheerman is right to call powerful motorbikes widow-makers and orphan-makers as he did in the House Of Commons last month. But he’s telling us nothing that isn’t abundantly obvious.
He is, in truth, being a bit melodramatic. No bike ever killed its rider or anyone else. People kill people and road machines can be their weapons.
Life is a bit of a risk. You can grade a variety of machines from roller skates to bicycles to hang-gliders to Jumbo jets in terms of that risk, either in your own eyes or by digging up statistics.
Just take road travel. Per mile travelled it is fantastically more dangerous than flying.
We all accept those risks, whether we are a pedestrian, push-biker, motorcyclist car or lorry driver.
It is, I repeat, the idiot for whom you must watch out. Laws are passed by sensible people and laws are broken by fools and renegades. No law will stop or even slow a fool or renegade and no law ever has.
But you then have to ask yourself where you want the law to step in with prohibitions and restrictions.
There is a little blustering policeman in all of us who, let off his leash, will flail about banning this and prohibiting t’other, all with the best of intentions.
He needs to be reined in or our quality of life and our freedoms will suffer.