Traffic regulation is devised by morons for fellow morons as well as bright people. Speed limits and traffic lights require total obedience. They brook no argument if you exercise discretion (e.g. creep across a deserted junction or accelerate briefly to overtake) and are caught on camera. To reduce life in all its variety and unpredictability to set numbers and coloured lights is grotesquely simplistic.
I realise now that everything about my challenge to the speeding ticket was irrelevant to the Court. And everything that statutory law stands for – numbers instead of context – is irrelevant to me.
So what we had was a failure to communicate, like in the film Cool Hand Luke. A failure on their part to value context, and a failure on my part to see any value in the numbers game they play.
It came as a shock to see how uninterested Courts are in matters concerning nuances in human behaviour, context and prevailing conditions, system defects, and justice.
To the exclusion of all else, it fixates on numbers, blame, and, it appears, raising money by nefarious means. How did MPs allow this autocratic mindset, this extortion racket, to come into being?
Itself inhumane and irrational to the point of corruption, the system corrupts any hope of a positive relationship between Them and Us. Any suggestions as to how to overthrow this diabolical régime?
At the Speed tab of this website, I’m going to post my reasoned statement which they refused to allow me to make in Court.
Yesterday I went to Court to argue my case over a charge of “speeding”. On the wall was a notice headed HM Courts and Tribunals Service. It stated “Justice matters”. In Court I was refused leave to speak about context or commonsense. The fact that my brief acceleration caused no harm or inconvenience cut no ice. It was disturbing to discover that we live in an autocracy where free speech and reasoned argument are denied, and justice doesn’t matter.
The song Taxman by George Harrison and John Lennon has the lines, “If you drive a car we’ll tax the street … If you take a walk we’ll tax your feet”.
Traffic regulation costs tens of billions a year yet fails to keep us safe. Far from solving congestion, it causes it.
Like the congestion charge, road pricing would be unfair and premature because the elegant, sustainable solution – deregulation and reform – has yet to be tried.
A £40bn hole in the Treasury? No problem. Traffic system reform can provide beneficial annual savings which would dwarf that figure.
Officialdom justifies draconian new measures against mobile phone use by casualty figures where phone use has played a part. But those figures are much lower than “accidents” at traffic lights.
According to this BBC news briefing, in 2019, there were 637 road casualties, including 153 where phone use was a factor. That’s 24%. Not good. But Westminster City Council’s safety audit shows 44% of “accidents” occur at traffic lights.
If mobile phone use is banned because it distracts us from watching the road, should traffic lights, speed cameras and the rule of priority be banned for the same reason?
Fair enough to outlaw phone use while actually driving, but when you’re in a jam, probably caused by traffic lights?
If the aim of Devon Highways is to increase congestion in Barnstaple and elsewhere, then Cabinet Member for Highways Management, Stuart Hughes, is to be congratulated.
If, however, the aim is to reduce congestion and improve air quality, then he is failing in his duty of care, and has been doing so for years.
Pilton Causeway is an example of grotesque traffic mismanagement. Years ago I pointed out to both Council and Police that northbound traffic gets less green time than side road traffic, despite northbound traffic being much heavier, especially in the afternoon. The lights cause tailbacks not just to the roundabout at the High St, but further afield.
Recently I re-timed the lights. Northbound traffic gets 18 seconds of green time, then has to sit at red, polluting the air, for 62 seconds. Often, nothing is happening on the junction. If traffic weren’t held at red, it would be free to disperse. As congestion dissolved, courtesy would thrive.
This happens whenever traffic lights break down. Low-speed, sociable filtering breaks out. I’ve witnessed it countless times on a micro scale, and on a macro scale across London in 2007 and 2008.
In 2009, I came across a local press story about improvements in congestion when lights failed in Portishead at a double T-junction similar to the Pilton Causeway/St Georges Rd junction. I proposed a monitored lights-off trial.
Via Councillor David Pasley, North Somerset Council agreed. The minute the lights were switched off, drivers and pedestrians started taking it more or less in turns, merging seamlessly at low speeds. Traffic queues disappeared. Monitoring showed that journey time fell by over half, despite a return from back-street rat-runs and greater numbers using the now free-flowing main route. There were accompanying improvements in road-user relationships, courtesy and safety, air quality, noise pollution and general well-being.
Despite the proof from Portishead, Hughes refused even to discuss a lights-off trial, with pedestrian priority, at Pilton.
A former Monster Raving Loony Party candidate and resident of Sidmouth (62 miles from Barnstaple), Hughes lists other interests in his public profile, including a disco and laser light show. “He is a member of the South West Regional Flood and Coastal Committee, President of Sidmouth Town Football Club, Chairman of PATROL (Parking and Traffic Regulations Outside London), and Chairman of LGA Public Transport Consortium.”
So perhaps he is too busy with commitments on the other side of Devon to attend to the needless delay and abysmal air quality in Barnstaple and Braunton, which is largely due to the negligence of traffic managers who lord it over us to our cost and detriment.
Just as the exposure of abuse in the Church must bring penitence and reparation, says Stephen Cottrell, Archbishop of York, so the perpetrators of the traffic system, which causes untold injustice and harm, then blames you and me for the consequences, should own up to its abuses, make reparations to its countless victims, and resign itself to accountability and radical reform.
New 60mph limits are being imposed on stretches of the motorway network, “to cut levels of nitrogen dioxide”, says Highways England.
Highways England is the state-run agency that promoted the use of hard shoulders – at some locations, can you believe, on bends. The result was 38 avoidable deaths and life-changing trauma to others involved. (Outgoing chief, Jim O’Sullivan, is on a salary of £456,727, with 63 other taxpayer-funded HE execs on £100,000+.)
So yet another layer of control and enforcement is coming into play. The intelligent move, of course, would be to bring highway law into line with Highway Code, which tells drivers to use the inside lane except when overtaking.
Moreover, a lower limit will make many drivers use a lower gear to maintain engine revs, and do nothing to improve air quality. Also, there is likely to be more braking, pumping more brake dust into the atmosphere.
When are the perpetrators of the lethal system – and by that I mean the entire traffic control system, not just this added insult – going to be named, shamed and face corporate manslaughter charges? No doubt, never.