Now WHO turns on drivers
Friday, May 13, 2011 at 5:30
Simon Clark

Driving to Liverpool today, then back to Cambridgeshire via Manchester, a round trip of approximately 350 miles.

Yesterday the Telegraph reported that "Speeding motorists fines are set to rise by up to 40 per cent under plans being considered by ministers".

The Department for Transport is ready to raise the fixed penalty for motorists caught breaking the limit from £60, the level set in 2000, to as high as £100.

Similar increases are planned for other offences such as using a hand held mobile phone while driving and failing to wear a seat belt.

Other penalties are also set to soar under the road safety strategy announced by Philip Hammond, the Transport Secretary.

I wouldn't mind if there was a bit of give and take - variable speed limits, for example, that go up as well as down.

This is well-worn argument but motorway speed limits were set in the 1960s when the average family saloon could barely do 70mph.

Fines and penalty points should be given for reckless or dangerous driving, and that is often dependent on road conditions (heavy traffic, bad weather etc).

There is nothing reckless or dangerous about travelling at 100mph in good conditions on a clear motorway.

Yesterday, the Today programme interviewed a spokesman for an organisation called Road Peace, "A national charity for road crash victims".

I have every sympathy for anyone who has lost someone in a car accident, but I took a dislike to the slick, almost messianic Road Peace spokesman.

I was half asleep, I admit, but I heard several references to 3,000 deaths on the road every day.

This is a global figure of course that is largely irrelevant when discussing road crash victims in Britain or indeed Western Europe where roads are, by and large, in a reasonable condition, and driving standards are relatively high.

I did a little investigation and it won't surprise you to learn that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has just launched a 'Decade of Action for Road Safety’ campaign "to raise awareness of dangers on the road".

Across the world each year, nearly 1.3 million people die as a result of a road traffic collision – that’s more than 3,000 deaths each day.

According to the WHO, unless immediate and effective action is taken, road traffic injuries are predicted to become the fifth leading cause of death in the world.

I'll come back to this issue later. In the meantime, I've got a meeting to go to, and it's a three-hour drive to get there.

Must dash.

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