What Makes Road Safety - Who to Believe?
I've just finished reading Eliminating Serious Injury and Death From Road Transport and find myself in agreement with much of its content. The time I've spent in traffic law enforcement and the investigation of a large number of collisions has shown me that many of them are suffered by people just like you and me. We aren't significantly misbehaving, we're experienced drivers and we were doing our best to drive safely in the circumstances. Human error, not lack of driver training or respect for other road users is at the root of more crashes than we would expect.
I mentioned the book to an acquaintance who takes a somewhat different view of the information contained in it. He was vehement in his response that it was nothing more than political propaganda, poorly researched and that an expert who had been retained to review the work supported this conclusion. It is an attempt to sell oppressive (speed) enforcement to the public.
The book does spend a considerable number of pages in the examination of unsafe speed. It suggests that an unsafe speed is one where a collision would not be survivable or would result in catastrophic injury. The unsafe speed would be decided in the context of vehicle safety systems, driver capability and the driving environment. The 85th percentile speed alone would not be sufficient criteria for setting the limit. Set speeds would be subject to review as circumstances changed.
Given that our provincial government has begun to ask us all what we think is appropriate for changes to our traffic laws, this has raised the question in my mind about the quality of that advice. Job One should be to lower the frequency of collisions on our highways, perhaps even to adopt Sweden's Vision Zero Initiative. If there are so many points of view about what should and should not be done, how does one properly inform themselves to assist in making the correct choice?