Graham Turner: Speed debate had me shouting at the radio

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One of the best things about driving to work alone is that, when the occasion arises, I can shout at the radio without embarassment.

One such occasion arose this week as I pottered down the A14 at my usual comfortable speed.

The target of my ire – though of course she couldn’t hear me – was Clare Armstrong, a spokesman for an organisation called Safespeed.

She’d been brought in by Radio 4’s Today programme to discuss a report by an academic – Prof Stephen Glaister, of the RAC Foundation – who had looked at the ways data about speed cameras could be analysed. Apparently, authorities around the country report data on offences, accidents and injuries in a variety of ways and present their findings in a number of different places, making interpretation of the figures a bit of a minefield.

The prof had no axe to grind, but the spokesman from Speedsafe obviously did. She had just the one argument – that speed rarely causes accidents and is mostly only ‘just a factor’.

This is where I started shouting.

Bad driving, it would appear to me, is the main cause of accidents; and the faster you’re going while driving badly, the worse the consequences will be for you and others. And I’m afraid I lump speeding into the bad driving category.

Mechanical failure and bad luck – falling trees, for example – are out of your control but, again, the faster you’re going, the worse the consequences will be from any accident caused by these.

The term/name Speedsafe seems to me contradictory – speed limits are arbitrary, but there has to be a legal control, the alternative is unthinkable. My drive into work confirms daily that many, many people should not be on the road.

I should, of course ‘declare an interest’ – a dangerous driver left my wife with permanent injuries while he walked away with a short ban and a fine.

On the other hand, I have reason to be grateful that a careful driver was travelling well under the limit and was able to stop when, as a youngster, one of my daughters made an unexpected dash off the pavement.

Just one final question on speed (not designed to make me popular): Where in the Highway Code does it say motorcyclists don’t have to obey the limits?

Yes, I’m afraid I ‘shout’ at bikers, too.