Monday, July 30, 2007

Jam Today, Jam Tomorrow

I have just heard the usual tales of woe from the BBC traffic news, and thought myself lucky that I don't have to go anywhere outside my home town today. I have the impression, admittedly not backed up by evidence, that post-accident road closures are getting longer and longer. That is a likely consequence of the police policy to treat all fatal accidents as a crime scene, thus requiring painstaking gathering of evidence. That's fine - if we are now going to imprison drivers for a simple mistake that results in a death, then proper analysis of the scene will be required. The downside of course is that drivers will have to fume in jams more frequently, and for longer.
I drive in France quite a lot and the policy there seems to be more robust. The first priority there is to get the traffic moving, and I have often been directed to scrunch over the broken glass and debris to get on my way.
Attitudes to road deaths differ worldwide and in the developing world trnsport is a major public health hazard. A documentary on Mumbai's railways that was shown last night suggested that in that city alone over 3000 people die each year walking on or across railway tracks. When we had an accident in England that killed a handful of people we practically shut down the system.

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