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Thursday, 3 June 2010

Road safety bad for health

First we have Bob Gifford of PACTS writing to the Health Minister (click here): And for those of you who do not know PACTS, (Parliamentary Advisory Committee on Transport Safety), sounding very important and official, is nothing but a private lobby group of non-experts, and is overloaded by vested interest groups, from public transport, insurance, speed camera manufacturers and so on.

Then here is my letter to the same minister:

3rd June 10

Dear Mrs Milton,

False road safety policy affects public health.

I congratulate you on your appointment as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health.

I am writing as an ex traffic officer, who has dealt with road accidents, compiled the statistics, prosecuted traffic law, prepared accident abstracts for the legal profession, a class 1 advanced police driver and motor cyclist, and my trade was motor engineer. I think I can claim to be an expert driver and an expert in road safety.

Unfortunately nearly all those who will advise you on healthy transport will not be experts at all and in most cases have a vested interest and another agenda. I do not. I am totally altruistic in my work and my concern is in three basic areas:

  1. We fail to address real accident causes. A subsequent health issue.

  1. We criminalise drivers needlessly. This causes stress.

  1. The cost of the massive and profitable Road Safety Industry to the economy means that there is less money for health and thus people die.

You would never imagine, from the publicity and promotions that since 1993 road casualties were dropping massively before expensive Road Safety Partnerships and their cameras and in fact have flat lined since. Do you appreciate that, after about 300,000,000,000 driver miles per year, there is less death on the road from any cause than by accidents in the home? About 4 times more for breast cancer and about 4 times more for asbestos related illness and about 6 times more from NHS failings?

So the Road Safety Industry, represented by a private Parliamentary lobby Group and several other charities and foundations it sponsors, tend to overstate the negatives of the private car owner and road transport too. This is always in favour of the public transport operators and operators and manufacturers in The Road Safety Industry.

That this is a multi billion pound industry, where no-one in it is so for altruistic reasons,(Why not if it is about the good cause of human safety and life or death?), can be judged simply from the very costly equipment that is now required, from crash helmets and seat belts to booster seats, air bags etc., that apart from the profit motive, although they undoubtedly save lives, don’t actually stop one single accident happening in the first place.

The falsehoods about speeding, perpetrated by a simplistic and untrue slogan and the official use of non legal terms such as ‘excessive speed’, ‘too fast’ ‘in a hurry’, all of which are used by officials and in police statistics and yet do not exist in the Road Traffic Act. These all come under dangerous driving and are simply used to muddy the facts to justify false speeding policy which is costing this country billions.

We estimate that for every 1 MPH we slow road transport, it costs on average £2,000,000,000 pa. (About £20 billion a year total). How many hospitals could you build with that? How many ambulances and fire engines could you buy with that? How many lives could we have saved? So what is the cost of this highly lucrative Road Safety Industry, its in-expert lobby groups and charities, in the terms of lives lost to its false policy and costs?

When a motorway is closed for 11 hours or a city closed for half a day, whilst a road accident is treated like a murder scene, how many millions of pounds are lost? What of the knock on accidents later in the day through stress, making up time or tiredness? Who is costing the activities of this industry and the impact it does have on the NHS and the economy? No one? Why not?

A study of trends will show that there has been very little gain but so far there is no study of the impact of the costs of road safety policy.

Why do we have over 40 road safety partnerships all spouting the same mantra? Send the emergency staff back to their stations to save lives there and make up the shortages in the police, ambulance and fire service from where they came. Employ the civilians elsewhere until, by natural wastage, they are not replaced.

We need to think radically about freeing up the driver, restoring speed limits to a natural level as the 85%tile method did. Focussing on real accident causes and above all, understanding that the British driver is doing very well and if they were not doing it, the economy of this country would collapse overnight and many thousands would die from it.

Beware of approaches from vested interest and unqualified lobby groups. This life and death issue should only rest with independent experts in the subject.

We now need to be turning these costs around and saving lives at the same time; both directly on the roads but also by efficient use of the driver and the roads.

I will be most happy to assist you further. Best wishes and good luck in government.


Keith Peat


  1. Superb! Probably the best destruction of 'road safety' claptrap I've ever had the pleasure of reading.

  2. Dear Keith

    Thank you for sending me your letter. As I’ve said before, I entirely agree that prevention of the crash is better than dealing with the aftermath. Most measures focus on the consequences of bad decision-making rather than on helping to make the right decision in the first place.

    However, when I read your comments about how safe our roads are compared to accidents elsewhere, I always wonder if you’re suggesting that we should now all retire because there is no more that we can do.

    Best wishes.


    Hi Bob,

    I hope you are well.

    I don't think you are so daft and nor is most in the Road Safety Industry either to think that I am suggesting any such thing. The point I make is pretty obvious.

    This Industry is costing us billions, they are all in it for the profit, their mantra, based on untrue sound bite ignores true accident causes and fails to prioritise them so, contrary to it's pious image, profit is the motive and it is not gain gain for the public at all. It is so costly we must count the economic death of it too and then look again at what we are doing. There is an impact balance sheet but so far we only hear of their version of it.

    Why so many (public funded) pressure groups like BRAKE, and lobby groups like yours? Why so many partnerships? Why so much costly advertising and media attention on road accidents?

    Look at this latest idea to take drivers off the road now by making the test even harder! More money for the schools and testers from the economy and less badly needed drivers. Why? That is when the fatal figures of other everyday activities show that the issue is an invented one by comparison.

    We have long passed the saturation point of feeding this insatiable beast based on nothing more than exaggerating the numbers and pretending to reach for an impossible Nirvana. They don't stack up Bob. Now we have to reverse a lot of it, including restoring the 85%tile rule and increasing the speed of commercial vehicles too. Criminalising the driver for doing what the State badly wants them to do; instead of treating them as the enemy all out on a joy ride, this needs to be reversed and drivers seen as working for the State. No-one would notice if horse riding and cycling stopped but the driver keeps the economy running.

    Human flesh amongst tons of moving machinery would be against all health and safety rules in any other activity so we must accept that there will be accidents and yes people will die. But far more would die if we stopped it. So we must ask how many die on a linear scale from slowing it, hampering it, criminalising it? There must be a figure from this? Now you have some pretty smart people on PACTS. Don't tell me none of you have considered this negative aspect from all their profit and loss sheets and their activity.

    No I am saying that the country really needs to look again at road safety policy to see how many it actually kills for a number of reasons. For that we need non vested interest experts Robert and far less doing very very nicely thank you. We certainly don't need them represented on any parliamentary advisory committee and that's for sure.

    Best wishes