It’s a mark of the low esteem in which transport is held that Patrick McLoughlin, transport secretary, retained his role in the recent reshuffle. He thinks most if not all accidents are caused by mobile phone use. I heard him last year at a UN conference on road safety. What a buffoon, I thought, but bit my lip. The reason roads are dangerous is because they are subject to the rule of priority, which promotes neglect and licenses aggression. If we lived by equality (“After you”) instead of lived and died by priority (“Get out of my way!”), most of our road safety problems would disappear. McLoughlin is no different from his predecessors. In my lifetime, so far, transport ministers of both political stripes have proved as bad as each other. The Conservatives are wedded to HS2, the spawn of Labour transport minister, Lord Adonis. The poet, Simon Armitage, says northern transport connectivity should be prioritised. Instead of another conduit to London, the £50-odd billion should be spent on lateral links between northeast and northwest, creating a hub of social and economic activity. In addition to that sensible re-allocation of funds, of course, is the potential in traffic system reform for efficiency savings that would pay for roadway redesign and a programme of re-education to change the culture of the road from priority to equality and hostility to empathy.