Tag Archives: Motoring

20mph zones

Can THEY EVER REALLY WORK?

20ishGood drivers don’t need them, bad drivers will always ignore them. 20mph zones are appearing everywhere these days, and no-one would deny speed reduction is advantageous in many locations, but what should be done about drivers who won’t adhere to the limit? Prosecute, I hear many shout, and yes, that would have the desired effect.

Well, not in all areas. In over a year Lancashire police have not prosecuted a single driver for speeding in 20mph zones. So either all Lancashire drivers stick to speed limits or… ??

When questioned on this point the PCC gave this response… 20mph speed zones

Good enough, would you say?

Not for me!

Why do cars…

…OFTEN REFLECT THE DRIVERS PERSONALITY

Cars reflect drivers personalityNot true in every case, though there’s a strong argument to support the theory. Butched-up pickups driven by guys who can’t be bothered with seatbelts, who’re on the phone as they drive, and who think speed limits are for everyone else. Expensive 4×4’s (the Chelsea tractor), designed for off-road terrain, yet driven by a female accompanied by 2 kids on the school run, the aim of which is to “be protected” from every other road user. Then there’s the boy racer, been driving 5 minutes yet knows it all, car trimmed with every conceivable gadget designed to make the motor sound faster than an F1. There’re many other examples, and I haven’t even touched on white van man!

It’s also true that many traits crossover between drivers.

When we get into our cars it’s as though we put on a cloak of invincibility. We become the best driver around, and all the problems are down to other “idiots”. Heaven forbid anyone less able than ourselves should be on OUR road when we are using it. Here comes road-rage!

Vanity – Image… Come on people, grow up!!

Some might say “why aren’t police tackling these problems?” Cuts, in funding from government, but that’s a different issue (too big to deal with here).

Why can’t we police ourselves? Whatever happened to courtesy? It’s simple enough; traffic laws are there for everyone’s benefit, and apply to everyone! Ignoring them isn’t clever, that just makes you one of those idiots you so vehemently despise.

If everyone drove as though they were carrying their most precious cargo, every journey, roads would not only be safer but a lot less stressful too.

Drive-2-Arrive

What’s wrong with society?

ANSWERS ON A POSTCARD!

CrimeSocietyI won’t attempt to provide a definitive response to that question, what I will do is put forward my thoughts on how things can be improved in at least one or two areas.

Take for example Crime. The government wants to save money, so public sector resources such as police are logical targets. The police are continually under pressure to solve more & more crimes with fewer & fewer officers. Why are there more crimes? Because there are fewer officers to prevent them!

There are various levels of crime though, ranging from the petty right up to, well, anything you care to name. Clearly the major crimes such as murder, robbery etc attract most police resources, which necessarily means that there are fewer officers to deal with the lower level crimes.

However, with very few exceptions, most criminals begin small & work up. What starts out as stealing a bar of chocolate from a supermarket can easily progress to street muggings and even on to armed robbery. Obviously not every criminal develops that way but the point I’m making is that if they get away with small crimes then the temptation is there to go for bigger rewards. 

The same thing can be seen on our roads. Someone gets away with parking where they shouldn’t; others see it and do the same. Then having got away with that one, it’s only a small step to not wearing a seat belt, or speeding, or using a mobile while driving. All relatively low-level offences in isolation but what if everyone drove around ignoring the rules? There’d be chaos & devastation.

It’s easy for police to say “we don’t have enough officers to deal with minor crimes”, but those are exactly the crimes they should be focusing on. Punish the minor crimes and deter the progression to anything bigger. Nip it in the bud, as the saying goes.

Clearly though it’s not as simple as that. In order to bring about such radical policing policies there’d need to be changes in other areas of law too, like the way offenders are dealt with (courts, prisons etc.), and that would then have a knock-on effect for other sectors. A massive undertaking.

I’ve hardly scratched the surface on this subject and it’s already becoming complicated, so to imaging any politician would have the will to embark on such changes is wishful thinking at best. That doesn’t alter the fact that the theory is sound. As a former Prime Minister once said, we must get “back to basics”, get the foundations right & the rest will follow just fine.

So “Mr Policeman”, the next time you see someone breaking the law don’t look the other way because it’s too much trouble. Make a start at doing your bit. ACT!

 

Company survival

Purely by volume

To care or not to careI’m sure we’ve all experienced problems after buying something, i.e. mobile phones, TV’s, furniture, even cars. Something goes wrong with the product. The ideal remedy is to take it back and get an on-the-spot repair, exchange or refund. Unfortunately though it’s not always that straightforward, particularly in todays online shopping culture.

While most people will accept that products can fail, equally they expect the people behind the products to put it right. He’s where the “customer service” department comes in – and often where the real problems begin!

So, you phone up and get the dreaded “press this, press that” menu (always designed to speed things up for you of course), then as “all our agents are currently busy…” you’re held in a queue, frequently for a long time. When someone does finally answer, invariably with a foreign accent which is hard to understand, you explain the problem, usually more than once. More often than not the call ends with you going off to try something they suggested; which never works. So, you phone again, and repeat the whole process to a different agent. Or maybe you decide it’s less stressful to use their “contact us” email form. Big mistake that! All that happens then is you get back the auto-acknowledgement saying how important your message is – then nothing more!

The point here is “why are customer service people the same the world over?” It doesn’t matter which company you deal with, the CS department will almost always be a source of despair. So, “why?”, and just as importantly, “how do these companies stay in business?”

Quantity over Quality!

If all companies provide the same low level of service, where do customers turn? Simple, they get fed up and move to a different company, but it’s this constant turn-over of customers, between companies, which keeps the vicious circle going – and the standards low.SurvivalRegretfully, the days when “service” meant genuine concern for customers and a desire to maintain or even enhance a company’s reputation seem to have disappeared. It’s now just a rat-race, with a “win some, lose some” approach, and who loses? The customers, naturally.

You might think this poor attitude is limited to the bigger companies, but unfortunately not, even though reputation is even more valuable to the small fry. To illustrate my point, an outfit producing a barcode app for mobiles responds to customer queries simply by criticising reviews. It offers no explanation, let alone help, and tells the customer to “move along”! The name of this particular bunch to avoid, “ZXing Team”. Remember it, and stay well clear. They probably won’t be around long anyway, with that attitude!

Speed Cameras

ARE THEY REALLY EFFECTIVE?

Speed camerasSurely a subject to evoke discussion. Like them or loath them, speed cameras are commonplace on UK roads, and look set to stay – at least until a better solution to the problem of speeding is found.

I’m not about to debate the issue of whether these cameras are right or wrong; what I do want to think about is firstly “are they being targeted correctly?”, and by that I mean not locations but vehicles, and secondly “which type is best?”.

In its simplest terms, if a vehicle passes a speed camera whilst travelling above the speed limit for that area then the camera is activated. So, in a 30pmh zone any vehicle, be it car, motorcycle, or lorry, exceeding the limit will be “flashed”. Likewise, in a 60mph zone the same thing would happen. However, it’s highly likely that, in the latter case, certain vehicles (HGV’s) could pass a camera at just below the signed limit without activating the camera yet still be exceeding the speed limit for that particular type of vehicle on that road. In this case speed cameras are ineffective.

Thankfully technology is available to obviate this problem. ANPR, or “automatic number plate recognition”, cameras are able to read the number plates of passing vehicles and, linked to a central database, can identify any individual vehicle. This means that when such a camera is linked with/incorporated into a speed camera it’s possible to identify, let’s say, an HGV exceeding the vehicles’ limit whist remaining below the limit for the area. The target vehicle could then penalised.

Unfortunately it appears that this, quite obvious, solution is not being used in far too many areas. One reason could be the issue of “unorthodox” number plates, but that’s a separate problem (which I may address later).

A second issue is the question of single point and/or average speed detection.

A single site speed camera by the side of the road can only detect “speeders” as they pass that particular point, so it’s usual to see vehicles slow down on approach then speed up again once passed the camera. Has that really achieved the desired result? On the other hand average speed cameras work over a set distance, meaning that vehicles need to remain below the prescribed maximum speed throughout the duration of travel through the zone. A far more effective way of reducing speed over a given area.

So, if authorities really want to reduce speed then why isn’t there greater use of the average speed cameras? Well, clearly the design of these cameras coupled with the fact that they need to be used in multiples means that cost is an important factor. Also, they need a certain amount of road available, so they’re many locations where they’re not suitable. Having said that, there are lots of locations where they could be used but aren’t. The question then is “which is most important, reducing speeds or saving money?”. Spend extra on camera systems that actually can reduce accidents, thereby lowering long-terms costs, or spend less in the short-term. One for authorities to think about.

Speeding is seen, by many, as almost acceptable but the slogan “speed kills” is all too true. Speed limits are a maximum not a target. Please, always drive at a speed which is within the law and safe for the conditions, then maybe more of us will arrive where we want to be!

Tweets

WHILE ON THE MOVE…???

We all know the message (even though many still ignore it!); “don’t use your mobile phone whilst driving”. This is the UK government line which, in theory, is supported by all agencies. Or is it?

Anyone on Twitter will probably have come across feeds from the Highways Agency and/or Police (or similar), whereby current status messages are broadcast, informing the travelling public of ongoing situations. These are clearly aimed at keeping motorists safe by giving them advance warning of problems on route, i.e. debris in road, lane blocked by RTC, etc.

But think for a moment about exactly what could be happening. Drivers travelling along checking their mobile at every “alert tone”, just in case it’s something ahead they should know about. Is that really safe?

OK, it could be that a passenger is doing the checking, just maybe…

I’m not suggesting that traffic info such as this shouldn’t be broadcast; of course in general it’s beneficial. I’m merely playing devil’s advocate for a moment to highlight situations of potential danger. Arguably the most essential component in any vehicle is common-sense, so the next time you’re in the car be sure you have a good supply with you!

“Drive 2 Arrive”

Biker Think!

PUT THE BOOT ON THE OTHER FOOT

Bikers can and must do more to make themselves visible!

Bikers can and must do more to make themselves visible!

Most people will be aware of the various road safety campaigns aimed at cutting accident rates between motorcyclists and cars (& other vehicles), but it seems as though the message is almost always aimed at the driver, implying that riders are the innocent victims. Well, I suggest there should be a more even distribution of responsibility.

Take the sticker above; how many of these have you seen being pushed by road safety campaigners? You’ll see lots saying “Think Biker” but shouldn’t bikers themselves do more thinking? I’m not for one minute suggesting it’s always bikers to blame for accidents, likewise it’s not always the drivers fault either. Both must share blame.

Often accidents occur because the biker hasn’t been seen. OK, so they now usually (though far from always) ride with lights on, but the majority of riders wear black or dark coloured clothing. Have they never heard of hi-viz? They could do more to help themselves, so why don’t they?

I won’t repeat an earlier article; all I’ll say for now is that the emphasis for staying safe needs to be evenly distributed!

Read the Essential Guide to Protective Gear for Bikers.