Traffic regulation and zealotry

Today’s concluding Point of View by the great Roger Scruton had a bearing on the subject of relationships on the road. Apologies if I oversimplify. He spoke of shared values arising from shared experience, with families and nation states tolerating difference but sinking their differences for the common good: “We” rather than “Them and us”. Beyond the nation state, beyond common law, you get irreconcilable conflict between religionists and secularists, political entities and peoples. On the road, the conflict is between social custom and regulation. It’s sociable and decent to take it in turns, but taking it in turns is against the law (of priority). Leaving Frimley Park Hospital yesterday on foot, I needed to cross the road, and saw a line of approaching vehicles with no apparent end. So I stepped into a small gap and got hooted at, even though I was only asserting my equal right to the road space. There was a pedestrian signal 50 yards from where I wanted to cross, but why should I make a 100-yard detour as well as formally stop the traffic? The rules of the road support inequality, so I was “wrong” for claiming equality, and drivers were “right” for neglecting me and my needs. In fact it was so easy for the driver to take his foot off the throttle and accommodate my path that I hope he felt an arse. But he probably felt justified in expressing his displeasure at me flouting the rules. Of course he is less to blame than a system that contrives these conflicts in the first place. Like over-zealous sharia law, traffic regulation is intolerant. Not only does it create a divide between road-users (us) and regulators (them), it puts us at odds with each other. The vile system which outlaws the virtues that Scruton extols is supported by the law of the land.

About Martin Cassini

Campaign founder and video producer, pursuing traffic system reform to make roads safe, civilised and efficient
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