Look at this picture and tell me what you see.
A motorist being penalised? A government money making scheme? A rat (nickname for traffic officers)? These are all things that I have heard in my career when it comes to Police and motorists.
This post was decided during my usual drive home from work this morning. It was 7 am and I drove 12 miles through dual carriageways and dark, wet and twisted country roads. I witnessed some disgusting and dangerous driving that not only forced me to take avoiding action but made me think about the importance of life and our responsibilities as vehicle drivers.
The first moment of concern was a large white van driving towards me. It was raining, misty and street lighting was limited. I could see a parked car in the opposite lane, my lane was clear of obstructions. As the van approached the parked car he suddenly swerved into my path narrowly missing the car. Hitting my brakes violently I came to a stop directly in front of the van. Here I could see that his windscreen was steamed up and he was talking on his mobile phone.
As I continued my journey I witnessed vehicles driving with defective headlights, driving at speed in wet conditions, tail gating, and in another hair raising moment as I negotiated a bend a car travelling far too fast skidding across the white line into my path.
I started thinking about traffic collisions that I had attended during my career. I once went to a major collision in which a family of four all lost their lives as a direct result of driving similar to that I have just mentioned. I am not a Family Liaison Officer however have had training in delivering of death messages. I remember that training very well and recall watching a video called “The Worst Job In The World”. Ask any Police Officer who has delivered such news and they will agree with me that this video title knocks the nail right on the head. I cannot think of anything worse than knocking on a strangers door to tell them a loved one has passed away. It is worse when the death could have been prevented by slowing down or by fixing a simple vehicle defect.
Before joining the Police I had formed my own opinion of the Roads Policing Officer having heard stories from upset motorists who had been prosecuted and seeing things on TV and thinking that fine seems excessive. After picking up the pieces of preventable accidents my opinion changed massively and now I have a maximum amount of respect for what I see as a vital policing role.
When I look at pictures such as the one at the top of this Blog I now see Safety, Education, Enforcement, Accident Reduction, and more importantly Death Reduction.
We now have a record amount of vehicles travelling on the roads in the UK. Motorists have responsibility to the community when it comes to road safety. At this time of year our responsibility is even more important as darker mornings and evenings creep in. Wind, rain, ice and even snow starts to make driving conditions more challenging.
The point of this Blog is quite simple. I want to highlight the importance of each and every motorists duty to themselves and to others.
Years ago accidents were referred to in the Police world as a RTA (Road Traffic Accident). This was changed to a RTC (Road Traffic Collision) and it is my understanding (although cannot confirm if correct) that someone decided (and quite rightly so in many cases) that “Accidents do not happen. They are caused”.
That is a powerful statement in itself and when you think how many collisions would have been prevented had that motorist slowed down in the wet, left that bit extra braking distance between their car and the car in front, replaced that bald tyre etc. Or had the car not had a defective headlight the car approaching would not have clipped the front of the car causing a head on collision.
I ask one thing of you all. Please check your vehicles and ensure they are safe. Please slow down and drive carefully. This morning I could have been seriously hurt or killed twice and both for very avoidable things. Think of your family, think of other peoples family, think of the emergency service staff who have to pick the pieces up when accidents happen.