Letter: Speed merchants

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The Independent Culture
Sir: The simplistic "something, anything, must be done" brigade just cannot be allowed to get away with it (letters, 22, 23, 24 September). Speed, in itself, except in some exceptional circumstances, does not cause accidents. The incompetent use of speed inappropriate for the road conditions does. Agreed that, once the accident has happened, excessive speed generally makes the accident more serious. But that is not the same thing as speed itself being the cause.

The phrase "incompetent use of speed inappropriate for the road conditions" is a good working definition of one aspect of bad driving. But the way to improvement is education of those drivers to adjust their speed to the road conditions obtaining at the time of driving.

This would require a carefully designed and persistently pursued campaign, which is anathema to the quick-result, "off with his head" tendency. Much better, in their eyes, to use the latest digital technology to trap innocent individuals who exceed a speed limit, probably arbitrarily set, by the smallest amount.

Comparing the issues of speed limits and drink-driving, moral suasion and education have changed public opinion to the extent that drinking beyond a glass of wine or so and driving is now socially unacceptable to the vast majority of the population. What is required is a similar campaign on speed of driving to change the climate of opinion.

This will result in much safer roads because the driving public's perceptions and habits will have been changed by reason and thus be much more likely to be followed as a matter of course to the advantage of all on the safety front.