Tag Archive | "traffic law"

The Streets Of San Francisco

With the news that our government is considering making some of our streets 15mph, no-overtaking zones where the car will play second fiddle to the bicycle it would not be unreasonable for British drivers to cry, ‘Why is it always us?’

Well, if it makes you feel any better, it isn’t. The motorists of San Francisco, in the USA, are also under the sanctimonious cosh of the car-hating fraternity. Unlike British motorists however who protest meekly and then shrug, our American friends are not going down without a fight.

In this Californian city drivers have become, in their view, totally marginalised by their authorities in favour of the bicycle and there is now a burgeoning backlash from motorists. In fact, there is now in fact a growing political movement being mobilised to fight for drivers’ rights. Why, they even have a manifesto.

Basically they are sick of having roads narrowed to allow for cycle lanes and the loss of parking spaces to make cycle routes and pavements wider. They have also complained vociferously that while drivers are being penalised for breaking the rules of the road, bike riders are getting away with it without penalty. One rule for them and one for us, would seem to be the motto.

This organised protest has produced a list of demands under the less than catchy title of ‘Restoring Transportation Balance in San Francisco’. These demands have been presented to the City Attorney and have caused a community-splitting stir in the city that bought us the greatest car chase ever in the movie Bullit.

One embittered driver even went on to say, “The sleeping giant has awakened. Making the roads more congested for cars… by taking out parking spaces and removing lanes increases greenhouse gas emissions and pollution… If biking is such a great alternative, why are so many of them so surly?”

It is not the place of Motor Blogger to take sides. Our view is that it should be ‘fair play for all’. Nevertheless it has become a very contentious issue in the USA – more so even than here. With our typical British reserve we may not go to these lengths but it may well be time for drivers to speak up before the car is totally marginalised.

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The Most Dangerous Roads In The World

Much is written on this subject and usually it forms part of the warnings and advice freely doled out to unwary drivers planning to travel beyond these shores, or indeed, just up the road.

For example, this writer has had personal experience of the ‘Ruta de la Muerte’ on the south coast of Spain. Fortunately there is now a major road for safety’s sake but it is easy to miss the turn out of Malaga and end up on the coast road at which point the hunched and terrified driver, white-knuckled hands gripping the steering wheel, will still encounter massive trucks, sozzled Spaniards and boozy, beery Brits who left their brains behind in Bromsgrove.

Depending upon who you ask, Spain has several ‘roads of death’ and the name can also be found in every other Spanish speaking country. In Norway they have the Trollstigen (The Troll Ladder – is it any wonder that trolls get such a bad press?) and Italy the Stelvio Pass. Even in the UK we have roads to die for and they are many and various. Mention the Peak District’s Cat and Fiddle to any automotive health and safety officer and you’re sure to provoke a reaction. Basically, it depends where you live.

The A682 between junction 13 of the M65 and Long Preston has a very bad reputation yet it doesn’t even appear on a BBC News top ten dangerous roads listing from 2010.

The road outside your children’s school could well head the list merely because you deem it so. There need not have been any injuries or fatalities – a near miss will turn mild-mannered parents into car-hating zealots overnight. This is an understandable reaction and this brings us finally to the point.

Traffic rules and regulations abound. Never a day seems to go by when there isn’t another restriction put in place and yet still people die on dangerous roads. Why? It’s a bit of a conundrum. Do some drivers and riders see these highways as a challenge? Does a red mist descend when the long and winding road appears? Whatever the cause, there seems to be a point at which the rules cease to have meaning to some people.

Most motorists understand the clear and present dangers inherent in operating a car. They enjoy their driving but draw the line at recklessness. Ultimately all roads are the most dangerous roads in the world. They are made dangerous by daredevils and the terminally stupid. The problem is, an attitude of mind is hard to legislate against. At some point we need to learn the lesson before cars become nothing more than state controlled shuttles.

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Swift Justice For Motoring Offenders

The announcement has been made today that dedicated traffic courts are to be set up to mete out swift punishment for minor traffic offences. It seems that the half million or so offences that occur each year are clogging up our courts. The government thinks that by setting up these summary centres of justice it will free up the magistrates for more important issues.

Apparently this has been trialled at nine areas around England and is about to be rolled out across both England and Wales. Scotland has its own system. The pilot schemes have simplified the legal process according to the police. By April 2014 every police area will have one of these traffic courts.

They will be overseen by so-called ‘specialist prosecutors’ who will deal with up to one hundred and sixty cases a day. This is where the idea gets a bit more concerning. Magistrates are appointed from the populace. They don’t need specialist legal qualifications but that do have to meet long established standards of fairness and community spirit, amongst other things. They receive training and have a legal adviser on hand.

In what way then are these traffic courts any different? Who appoints these ‘specialist prosecutors’ and where do they come from? If they are members of the public who volunteer to serve and who receive training for the job, doesn’t that make them magistrates? Get the idea?

We sincerely hope that these court officers are not members of the police force for example. Neither should they be legal professionals. Mind you, they only have jurisdiction in the ninety percent of cases where the miscreant motorist pleads guilty to the said minor offence. Thankfully, if the driver wants to contest the case it has to be heard in a proper magistrates court. So maybe that nagging concern isn’t justified, although it is still hanging in the air like a bad smell from the boot of the car.

Perhaps it is because motorists have been a cash-cow for local and national governments for years that it smacks a bit of being a money-making exercise. We’ll see. In the meantime the law obviously has to be enforced and if it speeds things up for all concerned and saves tax payers money in the long term it may not be a bad thing. Let us just hope that the rule of fairness and impartiality still applies.

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Are We Growing Tired Of Cars?

Clearly, this is not what you want to be reading in a motor blog. Well,  sorry and all that, but we might have to face the facts. There comes a point in the lives of every man and woman when we reach saturation point and enough is enough.

Consider this. We are continually bombarded by motoring rules and regulations. We have to put up with all sorts of bullying nonsense from people who believe themselves to be ‘in charge’. There is a sort of ‘it’s for your own good’ attitude exuding from the corridors of power nationally and right down through the levels of local government that is becoming hard to take.

Couple this with the climate change issue. Depending upon who you listen to we are either all doomed to perish in a superheated fireball or nothing much is going to happen. There seems to be no room for a middle of the road compromise when it comes to the warming of our world.

The point is that it is all your fault. That’s right, you there, with the car keys – the plight of the planet is down to drivers. Allegedly. However it is interesting to note that around the time of this article being written the (impartial) BBC have had to belatedly censor a natural history programme for stating as fact a wild and unsubstantiated claim about global warming. You have to wonder what to believe.

Needless to say, it doesn’t end there. The motorist is seen as an easy target when it comes to the raising of revenues. Year on year we are targeted at the pump and on the vehicle excise duty form. As a consequence we are forced to drive less and try to find ways to economise on fuel. Car insurance is expensive, especially for the urban Fri best-horoscope.com night and Satur best-horoscope.com bring the kind of person/people you should be with – someone special could appear!The weeks ahead promote romance, creative and speculative surges, charming children (and their interests) pleasure and beauty. young, who are beginning to question the value of owning a car at all. We are forced to drive on roads that have been starved of investment for years yet we are expected to be overjoyed about a hugely expensive new rail link that most of us will never use.

We are becoming tired of being told off, reprimanded, cautioned, lectured, watched, fined, endorsed and ripped off. There has to come a breaking point and it is literally just around the corner. The inevitable result is that car lovers will turn to other forms of entertainment.

Obviously, there is no question – for most – of doing without a car entirely. We have to get to work; we want our leisure time, and with public transport often largely inconvenient and costly we will probably stick with some sort of vehicle; but the pleasure has gone out of it.

The fight has gone out of us. In some European countries the people take to the streets in protest over the slightest issue but we continue to soak it up like sponges. The pleasure of motoring is no more.

On the other hand, we may have reached the end of the legend that is the car but rather than dumping the motor entirely most are instead changing their behaviour. The part that the automobile plays in our lives is changing. We can’t go fast but we can still go because the primary role of the car is changing. We still love them and we continue to enjoy the pleasure that a new car can bring; but now we associate them with lifestyle and freedom. With our families we can, for a while at least, drive away from grey government, pointless politicians and reality TV. Perhaps that is what cars are really about and that is why we’ll keep on buying them.

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New Year, New War On Motorists

The French have an expression for it. No, not that one; this one – plus ça change. Effectively, the more things change the more they stay the same. Just because the Chancellor has bowed to pressure and not enforced the January 3p rise in petrol prices doesn’t mean that the heat is off motorists. Well, you didn’t seriously think that they wouldn’t find another way to rake in the cash, did you?

The Department For Transport will shortly consult ministers on the proposals to give English councils powers to fine drivers for an additional – wait for it – twenty six offences, previously the reserve of the boys in blue. 26! Right now they are limited to parking fines and bus lane encroachments but councils want so much more.

They want the millions that would come from many new fines to the order of roughly seventy quid a pop. If anybody thinks that this may not come to pass then remember that London councils have had these powers for years. The Shires want their piece of the action.

Inevitably, the usual specious arguments are put forward. The police have ‘insufficient resources’ to effectively govern the roads. It will ‘ease congestion’ and ‘keep traffic moving’, and so on. Of course, to introduce a bit of balance here, these aren’t new laws. It pertains to existing signage and regulation which would be much more rigorously enforced. As one council apparatchik points out – presumably in an holier-than-thou tone of voice – ‘…if nobody broke the law, the income would be zero’. The irritating thing is that he is right.

However, when the police stop and punish an errant driver they are upholding the law, which is what we pay them for. What is planned is the notion that civilian will police civilian and that’s a whole new ballgame. Neighbour versus neighbour.  The slightest transgression for which most ordinary coppers will let go with a stern warning will be zealously jumped on by council employees. There will be no excuses. Cameras will rule. Disobey any road sign – whether by accident or design – and that will be your lot. Accidentally shunt forward and end up stopped in a box junction – that’s £70 to you, chief: and so on. The big unanswerable question is where will it all end?

We all know the rules of the road and that’s already a done deal; but what new offences will be created? How about if a child in the back seat flicks something disgusting from his nose out of the window? Will you still be able to argue with your partner whilst in control of a motor vehicle? No doubt you could all come up with suggestions of your own. Just be careful who you suggest them to. Walls have ears. That’s all we’re saying.

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