Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Traffic Police Numbers

From the BBC

RAC head of external affairs Pete Williams said: "These figures make a mockery of motoring law. If there are not enough police on the road, we can introduce all the new rules we want, but those breaking them just will not get caught.

"While cameras are good at catching speeders and drivers who go through red lights, offences that relate to general poor behaviour at the wheel still rely on a police officer to enforce them."

Last week, the Institute of Advanced Motorists criticised "many years of government cutbacks and the resulting drop in visible policing" after the number of people killed on UK roads rose to 1,711 in the year ending September 2014.

Well, those numbers are wrong. They rose to 1,730 from 1,711. And those are, according to the release from the Department of Transport estimated figures.

But the DfT explain the reason for the rise, that Q1 2013 was a very cold quarter, which you might think would raise accidents, but it actually means a lot less cars on the road.

Even without that, 1% is just a tiny percentage that tells you nothing as a single data point. It might be that we've got road deaths about as good as we can get them*, that they've hit a plateau and it's now mostly about fluctuations around the number. Most of the decline has been down to things like drink driving laws, safer cars and better medical treatment, not police presence which have always been nearly non-existent on the roads.
* MW adds, in terms of having a low number of road deaths compared to total population, the UK is more or less undisputed world champion. That's something to be proud of.


Lola said...

It gives the lie to the stats used to justify more speed cameras. By my reckoning by now, if the fatality savings claimed are correct, then drivers would be spontaneously appearing all over the UK.

Bayard said...

Having been caught by a speed camera and elected to go for re-education, I learned that the most dangerous roads in the country in terms of accidents per mile travelled, are minor roads, where you almost never see a policeman or a speed camera.

Lola said...

B. Of course they are. They are not 'engineered'. They are 'evolved roads'. And what the driver needs is 'information' to help him navigate them, not 'rules' which must be obeyed. The Man of the Spot always knows best.

Jim said...

I find that when left alone, people actually manage to do things in a far safer (ie less accidents) manner.

for example take the old Roundabout vs traffic lights arguement. At a roundabout people are left to make decisions and low and behold the road is clearer, people pass though much easier, quicker and safer than any traffic light controlled junction protected by red light cameras.

Mark Wadsworth said...

J, yes of course, traffic lights make everything worse for everybody, that's all in the YPP manifesto.