Tuesday, July 27, 2010

George Monbiot Has A Point

Kind of. His column on speed cameras does make a good argument as to why they are a good thing and the coalition is making a mistake by not funding them:

In every other sector, Conservatives insist that it is daft for human beings to do the work machines could do. In every other instance they demand that police officers be freed from mindless tasks to spend more time preventing serious crime. In all other cases they urge more rigorous enforcement of the law. On every other occasion they insist that local authorities should raise revenue and make their schemes pay for themselves. But it all goes into reverse when they are exposed to the beams of a fiendish instrument of mind control.

The moment they pass through its rays, Conservatives turn from penny-pinching authoritarians into spendthrift hoodie-huggers. They demand that a job now performed consistently and cheaply by machines should be handed back to human beings, who will do it patchily and at great expense. They urge that police officers be diverted from preventing serious crime to stand in for lumps of metal. They insist that those who break the law should not be punished or even caught. They clamour for councils to abandon a scheme that almost pays for itself, and replace it with one that requires constant subsidies.

Whilst it is true that some speed cameras are sited in such a way as to make it difficult to see how they contribute to safety many do genuinely slow traffic down in areas where high speeds are dangerous.

In 13 years of driving I've been caught by a speed camera once, so they are fairly easy to cope with if you drive sensibly aren't they. They do cut accidents when they are in the right place and don't require a huge amount of funding.

Naturally Moonbat being Moonbat he does throw in some idiocy at the end of his column:

The real reason why Conservatives hate the enforcement of speed limits is that this is one of the few laws which is as likely to catch the rich as the poor: newspaper editors and council leaders are as vulnerable as anyone else.

Yes that's exactly what Conservatives do, gather in secret places to plot to punish the poor at the expense of the rich....


Mark Wadsworth said...

Yeah. in terms of logic he is correct...

But in actual fact, exceeding the speed limit is not the major cause of car crashes, and speed cameras have not reduced average speeds or the number of people speeding particularly, and have not particularly reduced the number of accidents etc.

What is best for slowing people seeing the occasional cop car, allegedly.

JuliaM said...

I've never been caught by a speed camera, but I dearest them precisely because they ARE unthinking machines.

They just measure speed. That's all. You could drive at 29mph past one, swigging a bottle of vodka and testing someone on your mobile. The camera wouldn't care.

As Mark says, the safest thing is more police patrols, and harsher penalties for transgressors.

Ian R Thorpe said...

George would have a point but for the fact that everyone knows where the cameras are and slows down as they go past.

Once out of the zone down goes the foot again.

As revenue generators they work but piss people off, as road safety devices they're useless. George just hates car owners.

Matthew said...

Speed cameras are great, and the average speed ones on motorways help to deal with the probles outlined above.

I've spent a fair amount of time driving outside London this year, and the standard is terrible. I'm not sure whether its faster and more powerful cars, the inabilty to go fast most of the time or something else, but the kind of aggressive, driving two foot behind you, jumping red lights etc is almost universal. It's not so much its dangerous (althought it surely is) but it just seems rather pathetic.

Ross said...

Mark- yeah but there can only be a fixed number of police cars and they probably cost much more to run than a camera.

Julia- speed cameras obviously can't deal with all bad driving but that applies to almost any kind of technology.

Ian- It depends where the cameras are, on motorways I would slow down and speed up as I pass a camera, but where there is a camera as you enter a village then it encourages me to slow down before I enter the village and then I keep in down until I leave.

Matthew- I'd always assumed that the standard of driving would be worse in London than outside, albeit at a slower speed.

Mark Wadsworth said...

@ Matthew, driving two feet behind you is of course twattish and dangerous behaviour and there should be a law against it.

In fact there probably is, but these people aren't caught by speed cameras either, because they can't see the number plates and ignore cases where you and the bloke behind you are both sticking to the speed limit.

Matthew said...

Ross - standard of driving might be appalling in London, but you can't tell as basically it's a regulated 15 mph between traffic lights service.

I was thinking a little more about it, and I hesitate to use the word, but I find all this aggressive Clarkson-esque* driving a little common.

* Yes, i do like Top Gear.