On August 16th I received a call from Radio Norfolk, just after 9am, asking if I'd go on the phone and give my views on the new fixed penalties for motorisits caught tailgating or hogging the middle lane. I'm afraid my response was not quite what was expected when I said I couldn't see how it could make much difference, judging by the lack of effect on mobile phone users, most especially those who use their phones for texting. Hardly a day goes by without seeing someone committing this offence. I acknowledged that the Government sees the exercise as 'educational', since it is drawing attention to the offence to the driving public, but it still doesn't 'educate', merely inform drivers of something else they could 'get caught for'!
My view is based on my background in education, because I believe you need to have a balance of penalty and reward, but the latter in road safety is sadly lacking. Surely the Government and the insurance industry could get together to work this out? Drivers who voluntarily, out of their own pocket and in their own free time, get further training for themselves, should be rewarded through their insurance premiums, and/or cancelling out of penalty points? Why is this so hard? Official driver assessments every 5 years, again voluntary, could see drivers reduce their insurance premiums dramatically. Those who choose not to take these assessments pay the price of much higher premiums, and probably fixed penalties too. So long as it's seen that the Government is not taking the money from motorists who choose to do the training or assessment, it's purely private enterprise, i.e. ourselves, who gain the benefit of the extra work, then the motorist might not feel so 'used' as a cash cow. But those who don't bother, well it's then ok for their money to go to Government coffers, because that is their choice.
I'm sure this must sound pretty fanciful and impractical to many, but there needs to be reward if people are to be encouraged to take more responsibility. This seems to me to be the cheapest way all around - no cost to the Government, but reward in reduced accident costs through safer drivers; no forced cost on the public, only voluntary that will be recouped in the reduction in insurance premiums; even insurers won't lose out if their costs are reduced through fewer accident claims. But, because laws are designed to be punished when broken, never rewarded when kept, because this is what I'm advocating here for traffic laws, it is unlikely any politician could ever get their head around such a radical suggestion!
But what do you think? Have you got any other radical suggestions to help drivers keep to the law (including knowing the law in the first place!). Do please have your say in the comments box below.