Brian's Brief Encounters

This is an Unofficial Kaffe Fassett fanzine. Brought to you from a Leafy Suburb of the Throbbing Metropolis.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Mind That Statistician

If you want to give the government something to count.

Then a membership card to either of the last two groups of driver is a good way to go about it. Although I’m guessing that you probably wouldn’t set out to add to this particular list. Seeing as it involves a high degree of pain, or death.

The Yoof- These can often be found wrapped around various pieces of immovable roadside furniture. After passing their driving test they soon find that insurance companies aren’t too keen on covering them. Three grand for basic cover on an old banger anyone? Surprisingly not many Yoofs take them up on this. So it’s into mummy or daddy’s car which is a lot more fun than sitting next to an examiner who can press the brake. Experientia docet is not in their vocabulary.

Driving for a fortnight on their own makes them much more highly skilled than any other driver on the road. After all they have been playing driving video games for years. Disproportionate Killed or Seriously Injured figures say otherwise. Still, they give us the chance to practice our Death-o-gram skills. Recommended action usually involves calling all three emergency services and an undertaker.

The Tipsy- These like roadside furniture as well. They get themselves involved in one sixth of the KSI stats too. Not for them the night bus, a Hackney Carriage or one of the thousands of Throbbing Metropolis mini-cabs. Why bother with all that when they have a perfectly good car parked in the pub car park? Obviously they can drive; a drink or two doesn’t affect them.

So, when I see a car being driven at 29 miles an hour at half eleven at night I’d never be able to spot that they were over the limit. I’d never notice the uneven line, the clipping of kerbs, the braking for no reason nor the late reaction to hazards. As entertaining as it is to follow you and laugh, I feel I should really do something about it.

Why is it then, that when they can hardly stand up, they’ve only ever had two beers? Even when my little box says otherwise? Then we get them back to the station and they blow triple figures I realise they weren’t lying. It was just the two beers. Two gallons. Recommended course of action is to explain how they will need to find out which bus will be taking them to work for the next year.

I don’t think there has been too much dissent about the laws that have been introduced to try and cut the statistics for these two. I have heard and read the odd dissenting comments about other policies though. Even safety cameras get a mention from time to time. Strange that; when inappropriate speed keeps the KSI statisticians in business far too frequently. It’s also strange to discover how long this debate has been raging.

“It is often tragic to see how blatantly a man bungles his own life and the lives of others, yet remains totally incapable of seeing how much the whole tragedy originates in himself, and how he continually feeds it and keeps it going.”

As Carl Jung (1875-1961) once said.


At 5/12/05 12:18 AM, Anonymous Frank P said...

Fiendishly, fatally funny!

At 5/12/05 10:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Strange also that one has to use the freedom of information laws to force our lovely honest government and their appointed guardians of righteousness the safety camera partnerships to release the actual data on the KSI figures. Strange too that the Government's own figures baldly state hat a mere 15% of accidents are actually caused by speed.

Could it be that when you create an organisation like the Safety Camera Partnership, whose very existance and funding comes from issuing lots of tickets (unlike the police, who merely want a quiet life and make the roads safer to achieve this) to keep some of the confiscated money, you create an organisation whose best interest lies in fining lots of drivers, not making roads safer?

Surely not!

If that were true, the KSI figures would be static or plateaued, not going down rapidly.

Yes, I know they're flat right now; this is a statistical blip, you know; merely a blip. Yes, yes I know we never have those when a new speed camera gets put up and that regression to the mean doesn't exist, but this plateauing of KSI figures must surely be something completely different...

At 5/12/05 11:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What importance is that?
I always find those people that argue against speed cameras so stupid: the logic seems to be that they are angry that someone wants to know if they break the law. As if 'how dare they catch me!'
Get real. If the Safety Camera Partnership put up a lot of cameras and detect a lot of crime, why should we care what the motives are? If you don't want them to get rich, don't speed. Not too hard a calculation.

At 6/12/05 8:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wasn't aware speed cameras were clever enough to measure inappropriate speed. But then I suspect Brian knew that when he chose those words!!

At 6/12/05 11:15 PM, Blogger Costy said...

Another excellent post from one of the most consistently witty and insightful pieces of writing I've read- blog or otherwise.

To the anonymous poster trotting out the tired old excuse that speed cameras are there to make money- rollocks. The only people getting fines are those breaking the law. If you're not breaking the law, what's your problem?

Oh that's right, you want the freedom to break the law when it suits you, when you think no-one is looking, when you think that this particular law applies exclusively to everyone but you, when you know that the speed limit is wrong for here anywhere, when you know that you can handle your car at these speeds, that you will still be able to brake in time not to kill that child would have survived your driving if you'd been going just a little slower.

I have nothing but contempt for speeding drivers, especially those in urban areas. They should be treated by society with the same disgust and disdain as drunk drivers.

At 8/12/05 5:49 PM, Anonymous gordonjcp said...

Aha, but the current motorway speed limits were set when cars were fitted with brakes and tyres that would disgrace a modern baby buggy. In 1965 most cars on the road struggled to reach 60mph, never mind 70mph. These days some (predominantly German) cars struggle to go as slowly as 70mph in top gear.

Let's not forget that according to the numbers printed out on the helpful machine at my local MOT centre, the *handbrake* on my 17-year-old Citroën - which operates on the front wheels - is more effective than the normal foot brake on the 1965 Morris Minor I took in the same day. Cars have come a long way since 1988 when the last of the CXes were rolling off the production line, and a very long way indeed since the non-servo drum brakes of the mid 1960s.

How about we have the cameras in sensible places like near schools, instead of hidden behind road signs on long straight bits of motorway?

At 16/12/05 9:51 PM, Blogger Helen Sparkles said...

Nobody I know agrees with me, but I think cameras should be hidden and nobody should know where they are because nobody should be breaking the speed limit. Perhaps the limits haven't been changed because we know more about road safety/dangers now?

Actually, I find those signs that light up when you are going too fast appear to be universally effective. Everyone slows down, nobody is punished (financially), and it is a useful reminder for even the most obedient driver!

Sometimes we would all like to get somewhere faster; maybe we'd like everyone else off the road please! Sometimes speed is of the essence, but sometimes that isn't safe for others in the vicinity of the vehicle.

It might be stating the obvious, but I really do wonder if anyone ever thinks about what it might be like if they had a nasty accident, how they might feel if they hurt me, what damage they might do to themselves, or me or what effect it would have on their lives.We all wince when we see the mangled up wreckage. We may imagine a home devastated by the loss of a loved one, but we don't slow down unless it is to rubber neck.

I wish more people were thinking about the me my friends and family care about rather than the irritating presence in the car in front of them. I’d like them to be thinking about the pain, the fear, the flesh and blood and the lives irrevocably altered because they wanted to get to the traffic lights faster than me.

I’m really not some uptight witch, I just someone who thinks we should take a bit more responsibility for the safety of other road users. To finish this rant, it would just be easier if any amount of alcohol in the bloodstream were illegal while driving; even small amounts can have a big effect when we are tired or haven’t eaten (except for maybe a doughnut!) and it would just be more straightforward. I don’t really think that anyone should be banned if they really have only had 2 drinks, but some policy wonk can deal with all the variables.

Lastly, there should be a limit on the size of engine that anyone under 25 is allowed to drive. It is the nature of youth to feel immortal; those of us who are old enough to know better should protect our children.


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