[ABD Logo]The Association of British Drivers
OTR issue 1
On The Road Issue 1 was produced in 1993 using a package that is not easily convertable to PDF.
It has been manually reproduced here as an HTML document. No attempt has been made to reproduce the columnar formatting of the original.
Some sections are not included due to the difficulty of converting them. Notes about such omissions are shown thus Omission Note.

 

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On The Road

Voice of the motorist...

This is the first issue of the Association of British Drivers' own quarterly newspaper, which will keep members fully informed of progress in the fight to protect the motorist's right to drive on British roads without being subject to unreasonable speed limits, unfair fines, tolls and gross over taxation. It is hoped you will make On the Road a lively newspaper by sending in your own news and views.

Journal of the Association of British Drivers NOVEMBER 1993

At the wheel of a drivers' revolt

Phil Llewellin meets the founder of a new pressure group dedicated to a fairer deal for the motorist.
The following article was published in the Independent Saturday 4 September 1993.
Countless motorists regard themselves as victims, persecuted by traffic wardens, threatened by bad drivers constrained by unrealistic speed limits, imprisoned by interminable traffic jams. One of them, Brian Gregory, has had enough. He has founded the Association of British Drivers to "campaign against assaults on the pockets and liberties" of the nation's motorists. The annual subscription is £12.
I was half-expecting a real-life versions of the Blimpish character whose fanatical pro-motorist orations, delivered while swigging brandy from a polished hub-cap, delighted readers of the Peter Simple column in the Daily Telegraph; so I was a little disappointed when Mr. Gregory turned out to be a reasonable man who drank nothing stronger than coffee. His views on speed limits and road tolls are balanced by calls for a stiffer driving test and improved safety standards.
"Getting into gear" is how he describes the ABD's state of development. He decided to form the pressure group after reading reports of the police adopting a "10 per cent plus two" policy for prosecuting speeders - in other words, the 30 mph limit is unofficially extended to 35 mph, the 60 mph limit to 68 mph and the 70 mph limit 79 mph.
But, I had thought Mr. Gregory was in favour of being allowed to drive faster. "It all depends on the circumstances," he explains. "There are times when factors such as kids and parked cars combine to make that rule-of-thumb figure of 35 miles an hour far too high a speed for a 30 mph area. And there are an awful lot of people who waltz through 30 mph limits at 50, then cause congestion and frustration by sticking to that speed when they reach a road where it's safe and legal to drive at 60.
"What made me see red was the thought that a driver travelling at 35 miles an hour in a 30 mph area is more likely to cause an accident - but much less likely to be apprehended - than the motorist who cruises down a wide, straight and virtually traffic-free motorway in good visibility at just over 80.
"We're not asking for a Lunatics' Charter, but for a change of attitude that would permit higher speeds when conditions are appropriate.
"Increasing the limit to at least 85 would be more or less in line with views expressed at various times by several eminently responsible organisations, including the Association of Chief Police Officers".
Mr. Gregory takes the view that the 70 mph limit is an anachronism, because cars have improved almost beyond recognition since it was introduced in the sixties. The law requires the police to prosecute motorists because they are exceeding an arbitrary figure, not because they are driving unsafely, he contends.
"I accept the logic of speed limits in certain areas, and believe some should be lower than they are. But, a blanket speed limit as low as 70 strikes me as more of a licence for the Government to make money than a worthwhile contribution to road safety".
How does he react to the popular belief that speed kills? First, by repeating the fact that motorways are Britain's fastest and safest roads. The media coverage given to "motorway madness" is misleading, in the way than an airline disaster may give the impression that commercial flying is tantamount to suicide. Mr. Gregory also quotes figures from the Federal Statistical Agency in Germany, where that are no speed limits on many miles of motorways: "The risk of being injured on the autobahn is five times lower than on other inter-urban main roads, and 10 times lower than on ordinary roads and roads in built-up areas".
The prospect of automatic "speed cameras" being used on motorways - as they already are in urban areas - fills him with horror. Conditions that a policeman might take into account, and on which he might base a decision to let the driver go with a caution, will be of no interest to the radar-triggered robocops. Mr. Gregory sees them as another cynical source of income for the Government.
Only about a quarter of the money raised by motoring taxes of one sort of another is spent on transportªrelated projects, he says. Why not make the familiar plea for that income to be spent on better roads? Because the ABD is broad-minded enough to campaign for a properly integrated transport system whose efficiency will reduce our everªincreasing reliance on the car.
The concept of privatising the railways strikes Mr. Gregory as a programme for fragmentation. It will drop more money into the Whitehall piggy-bank,but make a satisfactory transport system far more difficult to achieve.
He takes the view that the most important part of any vehicle is the nut that holds the steering wheel. In other words, far more effort should be focused on educating drivers. He favours a two-tier test, the second phase of which would include motorway driving. Gaining practical experience could be a little difficult if you live in Thurso or Kinlochbervie, but the proposition merits careful consideration.
"The present situation is crazy" he says, "You can pass your test in an old Mini, never exceeding 30 miles an hour, then jump straight into a Lamborghini and zoom off down the motorway.
"One of the most important needs is for drivers to be educated to give themselves adequate stopping distances. I always try to maintain the recommended distance between my car and the vehicle in front, but other drivers almost invariably pull into the gap. It would be a good idea for police cars to be able to flash a "Keep your distance' message as well as the 'Stop' sign."
Mr. Gregory holds a degree in chemistry and works for an ICI subsidiary. His scientific background helps to explain an interest the in the safety of car design. He wonders why there is no legislation that requires manufacturers to use fire resistance fabrics. Airbags, seatbelt pre-tensioners and anti-lock braking systems should be standard equipment on all new cars, he maintains.
To a question about the AA and RAC, he reacts with an exasperated shrug "I think they have lost sight of their original reasons for existing. They appear to be more interested in selling things to members than in representing their views and fighting for their interests."
His nascent organisation has fewer than 100 members, but its founder and chairman is convinced that support will grow as the word spreads. There are millions of people who share his views, he says.
He is not worried about being considered a bit of a crank. "I don't mind having the bee-in-the-bonnet finger pointed at me if it makes people think".
This article was written by Phil Llewellin and has been reproduced by permission of The Independent Newspaper.


Revenue not Road Safety

Brian Gregory, Chairman of The Association of British Drivers writes.

Cast your mind back just a few years. Do you remember when "The Wall" came down? Remember our political leaders hailing it as a victory for individuality, for freedom of expression, for everything that is Right?
Now for the really bad news: despite all their empty rhetoric about preserving individual freedoms, individuality, freedom of choice and so on, those same politicians are putting in place the first bricks of a rebuilt evil empire here today. No-one will be able to make any journey without its every detail being known; everyone will be under constant observation and scrutiny. Furthermore, you will be charged by the mile for this "privilege". Should you have the temerity to exceed our outmoded and archaic motorway speed limit - suppose you averaged 80 mph over a 100 mile journey - it would cost you an extra £100 (50p per mile for every 5 mph over 70 mph for 100 miles) on top of the flat £1.50 charge (100 miles at 1.5p per mile) for the journey.
Doesn't this sound like Big Brother tactics to you? Sadly, Orwell's nightmare future is coming to pass a mere ten years late, as Government spurns the sacrifices of previous generations who laid down their lives to protect our basic freedoms: not to be spied upon and not to be oppressed by the State.
No attempt has been made to determine the motoring public's opinions of the use of motorway speed cameras, which are no more than a cynical, revenue generating measure devoid of any road safety benefits. Nor has public consultation taken place regarding road pricing, trunk road and motorway tolls, electronic car tagging, Big Brother surveillance etc. Indeed, in the area of motoring law, the most basic legal tenet of presumption of innocence until proven guilty no longer applies; the motorist invariably being assumed guilty unless he can prove himself innocent. Other road users are not subject to this perverse and perverted criterion.
In unequivocal fashion, the "Right Honourable" Robert Keys has recently and unwittingly confirmed the Government's true objective with regard to road transport and more frighteningly road safety policies. The priority is revenue maximisation.
The mock concern for reducing road casualties and the "Environment" (as excuses for failing to raise our outmoded motorway speed limit) have given way to the Government's true agenda "PAY as you speed".
The blunt fact is that the 70 mph speed limit has never saved a single life since its inception; multiple pile ups have continued to occur in fog (the prevention of such occurrences having been the excuse for its introduction). Indeed, the 70 mph limit may actually have cost lives because it encourages a significant minority of drivers (in the absence of Government/DoT advice or training to the contrary) to believe that as long as this limit is not exceeded, they are driving well and safely WHATEVER ELSE they may (or not be) doing. This mistaken belief is fostered by Traffic Police, who only seem interested in those exceeding the speed limit, whether safely or not: REVENUE NOT ROAD SAFETY is clearly the motto.
In fact preserving an adequate separation from the preceding vehicle - whatever one's speed - is much more important than adherence to an outmoded limit. Yet I cannot recall a single DoT campaign emphasising this point in the 15 years of my driving career. REVENUE NOT ROAD SAFETY.
The environmental argument for a motorway speed limit enforcement has a terminally unsound basis in fact. The effect of legalising 85 mph would make a mere 0.5% difference if all vehicles chose to travel at this speed. Of course not all can and others will choose not to. We can therefore estimate a vanishingly small 0.1% to 0.25% vehicular emissions increase from this speed limit increase. The actual effect would, in fact, be even less than this; 60% of motorists are already exceeding 70 mph. A further factor conveniently ignored by the unscientific, rabid environmentalist fringe is that CO2 emissions from natural sources are more than twenty times greater than those from man-made origins!
If the CO2 "problem" can be even marginally attributed to Man's activities, and if Government is really concerned with environmental issues, then its attention should be focused on the 80% of CO2 emissions arising from industrial and domestic sources.
Subsidies to encourage householders to improve their home insulation alone would be highly cost-effective: around 40% of the UK's domestic CO2 emissions arise through unnecessary excess combustion of fossil fuels to maintain temperatures in poorly insulated, older properties.
But the Government cares not a jot for the "Environment", road safety, personal freedom, honesty, truth, only revenue. Roads continue to be engineered down to a price, rather than up to a quality; wide single carriage-ways (designed to tempt motorists to exceed often unnecessarily low speed limits) are substituted for dual carriageways on grounds of cheapness and speeding fine generation. REVENUE NOT ROAD SAFETY.
In a democracy, a "listening" government is duty bound to consult the motoring public (there are after all 23 million of us) on what the motorway speed limit ( and indeed other speed limits generally) should be. Likewise proposals for toll roads, electronic tagging etc., should be subject to the verdict of the motoring public.
It is also clear that, far from seeking to extort more from motorists, Government should plough more than a derisory 25% of the £22 thousand million pounds it already generates from drivers into transport investment, road safety and road user education ( encompassing pedestrians and cyclists) ie into measures that will have a tangible and positive effect on road safety.
The introduction of eg. an advanced driving licence carrying with it greater latitude for holders with regard to permissible motorway trunk road speeds could not only improve road safety but also generate revenue ( this latter point clearly being the Government's overriding concern). There is currently little real incentive for the majority of motorists to take such tests (and thus hopefully improve driving standards and road safety generally). We need an integrated transport policy, with adequate provision of low cost public transport as a realistic alternative to private transport; careful consideration of the balance between road and rail transport of heavy goods; we need adequate cycle lane provision always to be segregated from fast trunk roads and dual carriage ways and so on. What Policies do we get ? A patchwork quilt hastily cobbled together with a sole aim; to bleed the motorist dry financially. Government must cease its almost pathological persecution of the driving community. It must stop acting like a financial vampire draining motorists financial lifeblood (and by inaction, possibly driver's actual lifeblood) .In short, Government should get off the motorists back.
It otherwise runs the risk of suffering an electoral backlash delivered by the overwhelming majority of Britain's 20 million plus motorists who are heartily sick of being hounded, harried and seen by Government as a bottomless revenue pit. The vast majority of us are implacably opposed to the Government's latest wholly revenue oriented transport policies.
It would be refreshing for Government (once at least) to take notice of, and act on, realistic and sensible measures which would both improve safety and preserve individual freedom.
Safety before income has, after all, to be the primary consideration of all socially aware private sector employees nowadays. Would that the Government adopted the stance it so eagerly legislates on to others.

THE FACTS:

1. Government is concerned only with revenue, not road safety.

2. The 70 mph limit is being retained not for road safety purposes (it serves none) ONLY to generate revenue from the many drivers who will be caught exceeding this outmoded and inappropriate limit.

3. Government is embarking on a campaign of blatant and ruthless exploitation and oppression of the motorist for the sole purpose of getting out of its current fiscal bind.

QUESTION:

4. Once it gets a taste for the suppression of individual freedoms, who knows where Government will stop? A police state is a police state, whether of communist, capitalist - or any other political persuasion.

THESE MEASURES MUST BE DEFEATED!

Brian Gregory

A simulated bill from "British Highways plc" for motorway journeys was featured on page 3

Motorway Charging - Rip Off

£200 to drive from London to Manchester

Yes ! This is a not the proposal of some loony from an Anti-Car fringe group. This is what could happen if Mr Robert Key Minister for Roads has his way. He has proposed a penalty charge to be recorded electronically-of up to 50 p per mile for every 5 mph over the limit a driver travels. Thus a 200 mile journey could cost £200 at 80 mph. Oh Yes, and that is on top of the standard road charge which the Government would like to introduce. The Government's green paper on this subject "Paying for Better Motorways" suggests a charge of 1.5p mile, or £3.00 for 200 miles (that works out at £225 for a typical 15,000 annual mileage) AND on top of the so called "Road Fund" Licence AND on top of excise duty and VAT on fuel. Well we suppose the Government is desperate to make the soon to be privatised Railways look cheap - even after the fares go up! With your help, we want to stop this madness. Make your feelings known - contact you local MP. Julien Rowden

ABD's response to motorway charging proposals

Letter addressed to the Department of Transport.

Dear Sir

I write to offer my comments in response to the Governments proposals as set out in the document "PAYING FOR BETTER MOTORWAYS: ISSUES FOR DISCUSSION". I strongly disagree with the Government's proposals to charge drivers for using motorways.
As has been demonstrated in practice by the increase in toll charges on the Severn suspension bridge and the consequent increase in traffic on non motorway roads adjacent to the Severn estuary, the introduction of toll charges on motorways will cause traffic to divert in large volume to alternative routes. The increase in traffic levels on rural roads, and through towns and villages will cause congestion, increased accidents and nuisance. The large number of people affected by this will bear a substantial cost not only in monetary terms through the cost of congestion and accidents but in a significant deterioration in their quality of life. In addition the motorway user will be asked to pay to use unimproved motorways which have been built at the taxpayer's expense. In effect he or she is being asked to pay twice. Considering the amount of money collected from motorists annually by the existing methods approximately £20 thousand million and the proportion of that amount spent on road construction and maintenance, £3 thousand million, it is remarkable that the government requires yet further income from motorists. The proposed toll scheme can only be a ruse on the part of the Department of Transport to circumvent the Treasury's strict financial planning control procedures, the Treasury being unwilling to fund the road building programme in full from the consolidated fund into which motoring taxes are absorbed. The motorist is in effect being asked to subsidise the public sector deficit to a even greater degree than he does at present.
The scheme is unfair. The new tolls will bear most heavily on the less well off private motorist. He or she will be priced off the motorways by having to pay peak toll charges at peak periods leaving them free for use by company car drivers and the rich. Most company car drivers will be impervious to the "price mechanism" being fully reimbursed by their employers for the additional expense incurred. Many company car drivers use their vehicles solely to commute to work and are one of the main causes of peak time congestion, as evidenced by the London bound motorway traffic jams, many miles long, on week day mornings. Allowing motorways to become clogged with commuting company car drivers and the well off does not make the best use of a finite national resource originally paid for by taxpayers. Should access to the motorway network need to be restricted, for instance to reduce congestion in peak periods, it should be rationed at the point of entry on a first come first served basis with due regard to high priority traffic such as public service vehicles. Not only would this be fair but it would achieve the minimum degree of diversion, saving many towns and villages from increased through traffic and make the best use of the motorway network. The proposed tolls will require the introduction of an additional revenue collection mechanism in addition to the existing road-fund license and fuel excise duty. The new collection mechanism will be expensive to set up and operate and will provide motorists with no direct benefits either in improved safety or improved mobility. Should the Government require further revenue from motorists it would be far more cost effective to increase fuel excise duty, the marginal cost of collecting the additional revenue being nil.
Not only will the new toll system be expensive it will use high technology to track and record the movement of motorists as they drive about the country. This development is an unprecedented assault on the privacy of millions of law abiding citizens.
As weather conditions deteriorate this autumn we should expect that a very nasty multiple pile up will occur somewhere on the motorway network. Our motorways are made avoidably perilous by motorists driving too fast and too close in poor conditions. In my experience motorway accidents are most likely to occur in heavy traffic, where average traffic speeds are in the range 50 to 65 mph. In these conditions the average motorist drives too close to the vehicle in front and the existing speed limit encourages some motorists to attempt the impossible and drive at 70 mph. This sort of behaviour is exceedingly dangerous and is made much more so in adverse weather conditions. In practice the existing 70 mph limit tends to slow traffic down when on road safety grounds this is least necessary and does not act to slow traffic down when the need to do so is greatest. The lack of credibility in the existing arrangements makes educating motorists to drive safely much more difficult.
The speed limit should be increased or reduced to the optimum level for the prevailing traffic conditions, for example in heavy traffic it should be reduced to 50 mph. Variable speed limits should be introduced over the entire motorway network together with a relaxation of the existing 70 mph upper limit to not less than 85 mph in good traffic conditions. I suggest that the government installs modern traffic control systems to facilitate this. The authorities could then concentrate their resources to encouraging motorists to maintain a safe following distance at all times and to policing traffic speeds in those traffic situations where and when on road safety grounds it is needed most. Motorists would then be allowed to drive at the speed of their choice in those traffic conditions in which multiple pile ups are rare, in light traffic and good weather conditions, without being subjected to oppressive policing.
Instead of inventing high tech toll collection schemes, which are designed solely to raise additional revenue, not withstanding the Roads Minister's recently publicised after thought, to surcharge speeding drivers, the government should devise high tech traffic control systems similar to those in operation in Holland and Germany, which provide improved safety, greater mobility in safe conditions and the optimisation of road usage in peak periods. Yours faithfully
J.L.Newby-Robson
Member of The Association of British Drivers.


AA and RAC at Loggerheads

ABD officials have contacted the RAC and AA to check their stance on the motorway speed limit. Jeremy Vanke Public Policy Manager at the RAC confirmed that the RAC supports an increase in the motorway speed limit to 80 mph, but said that the policy was under review. Andrew Howard of the AA stated that the AA does not support any increase in the speed limit. The membership is advised to join the RAC and cancel their AA subscription and write to the AA to tell them why.

Lies Damned Lies and Statistics

ABD members have written to the Minister of Roads and Traffic to protest at the use of robot radar traps on motorways, (virtually the safest roads in the world), in the safest traffic conditions, and the failure to increase the motorway speed limit to a realistic level, not less than 85 mph. The Minister has confirmed that the speed limit will not be increased and stated that "international evidence suggests that a 1 mph rise in average speeds results in a 7 % rise in deaths". No doubt a reduction in average speeds of 15 mph will make our roads entirely safe ?

Kraut Control

The D.o.T. is going to install German style traffic controls on the new widened (dual four lane) sections of motorway only, starting with the M25. The system measures traffic conditions and adjusts the speed limit to the optimum level. In Germany the system reduces the speed limit in poor conditions to prevent motorway madness type pile ups, but in good conditions speed is unlimited. The D.o.T. has confirmed that the upper limit under the new system will be, yes you've guessed it 70 mph!


Julien Rowden ABD Committee Member writes.

The History of the 70 mph limit

Until 1965 there was no overall speed limit on Britain's roads. The 70 mph limit was introduced by Barbara Castle, then Minister of Transport, who incidentally, did not even hold a driving license herself ! It was expressed to be an "experiment" (isn't every unpopular new measure?), and for the most part those exceeding the limit were given no more than a rebuke. Little did anyone realise that one day this "experiment" would be enforced using space age technology and sophisticated electronics, and that large sections of the community would be "criminalised" simply by the act of driving a little over an arbitrary limit regardless of whether any danger was actually caused. Just to paint a brief picture of the era, Britain had just begun to put in place a motorway network a quarter of a century after Germany, The United States and Italy. Part of the M1 was open, as was a short length of the M6 and a stretch of the M5 just south of Birmingham to a point just south of Worcester. The M4 elevated section had just been opened and that motorway extended to just beyond Slough. Elsewhere traffic crawled along roads whose routes would, for the most part, have been quite familiar to Roman soldiers two thousand years earlier. Congestion might be a problem today, but it is certainly not a new one. Many main roads were notorious for their traffic jams as cars fought their way through town centres and villages in the 1960's. The early motorways were all two lane only and crash barriers, already common on the continent, were almost non-existent here. As a consequence there were horrific head on collisions where vehicles had crossed the central reservation. The 70 mph limit may have seemed reasonable at the time. A few makers produced fast luxury cars and sports cars, most of them hand built, but any car capable of reaching the magic 100 mph was quite something. The recently launched E-Type Jaguar was one of them.
However most drivers were content to drive a Hillman Minx, an Austin Cambridge or a Vauxhall Victor. These cars were capable of 70 - 80 mph, but it was unwise to drive them at that speed for long periods if the driver wanted the engine to survive!
All these cars had narrow, cross ply tyres, with little grip and in the absence of strict laws governing tread depth, many drivers went on driving them until the tyres went bald. Drum brakes were the order of the day and were prone to chronic fading. Our neighbour had just taken delivery of a brand new Vauxhall Viva, proudly sporting a sticker advising the following driver that this car had "disks". Steering wheels were rigid and had thin metal rims in most cars were enormous by modern standards. Seat belts were just being fitted to the newest cars but few bothered to wear them. TV commercials attempted to persuade drivers to "belt up" by showing drivers colliding with their steering wheels, as their heads crashed unrestrained through a windscreen which was progressively disintegrating into a million pieces - all in slow motion and graphic detail. The seats themselves were usually low backed, offering no protection to the head and shoulders and were invariably covered in shiny plastic. The driver and passengers slid around on these glossy benches on the slightest bend. Safety cages to protect the occupants in the event of an accident were pioneered by a few eccentric and safety conscious manufacturers like Mercedes and Volvo. The widely praised new Rover 2000 had one too.
Since then, the luxury and sports cars makers like Aston Martin, Ferrari and Jaguar have got better of course, and Mercedes and Volvo continue to try to keep ahead of the field in safety terms. But by far the biggest change since then in safety terms has been seen in the sort of family car which most people drive. All cars now have radial tyres, wider wheels, disc brakes, safety cages and proper seats which hold and protect the occupant. Steering wheels collapse on impact and seat belts are not only provided front and rear, but have to be worn by law. All cars have properly sized brake and tail lights which other drivers can see clearly. Air bags are being adopted fast as a standard feature on Fords and Vauxhalls amongst others; and ABS brakes, just recently an optional extra on a few expensive sports saloons are now finding their way into mass market cars as standard equipment. Levels of comfort (essential for safety on long journeys), safety and engineering have changed beyond all recognition and today's Vauxhall Cavalier or Rover 200 will happily cruise at 100 mph all day without strain.
The limit of 70 mph on our motorways has become outdated and, from the point of view of reducing road casualties, of very questionable value. Seventy percent of accidents occur in areas where there is a limit of 30 - 40 mph and most of the rest on other non motorway roads. In fact according to the Government's own statistics accident rates on motorways are only 11% of those on other roads. Unfortunately even these statistics do not show how many of the accidents occurred in bad weather such as fog when the speed limit is irrelevant and drivers should be travelling more slowly anyway. This pattern of very low accident rates on motorways is repeated worldwide and the figures show clearly that there is no direct correlation between the casualty rates and the speed limits imposed.

Tackling Road Casualties - The Logical Approach

Despite what the government may have you believe road casualties in Great Britain have been falling steadily since the 1930's despite a twenty fold increase in the number of vehicles on the road since then.
Between 1981 and 1991 the number of fatal and serious accidents dropped from 70,700 to 49,300 and deaths per billion vehicle kilometres were 7.1, down from 10.6 a decade earlier. Great Britain has an enviable safety record in international terms and Belgium's rate in 1990 for example was 24.0 deaths per billion vehicle kilometres, or three and a half times the British level!
Even safety conscious Denmark with a motorway speed limit of 100 kph (60 mph approx) suffered a significantly higher death rate. Nevertheless a casualty is a casualty too many. Motorways take 15 % of all our traffic and accident levels are a minute fraction of the total.
The Government contends that maintaining our 70 mph speed limit is necessary to prevent casualties from rising. The Association of British Drivers does not believe this. In fact 60 % of all drivers already exceed the limit and we believe an increase in the limit to 80 - 85 would simply legalise what most drivers do already. Indeed boredom is one of the greatest dangers on long motorway journeys and low speeds on roads and in vehicles engineered for safety at high speed lead to poorer concentration.
Further, international comparisons show, for example, that the number of fatalities per million vehicle kilometres on motorways in the United States (limits of 55 mph or 65 mph) is the same as in the former West Germany (no overall speed limit) despite the fact that the motorways of the former are wider straighter and generally to a higher standard. The Association wants to see lower casualties and believes that the way to reduce them is by:-
a) using better engineered vehicles. Cars have been getting safer for years and the trend is continuing as airbags, ABS brakes and other features find their way into new cars;
b) building better quality roads. This means extending the motorway network and improving road engineering on existing roads, especially targeting accident blackspots;
c) Improved driver training. We wish to see a two-stage test to incorporate tuition in motorway driving techniques; d) taking sensible measures to improve safety on urban roads including intelligent enforcement of urban speed limits, and the introduction of cameras to discourage "jumping" red traffic lights and an extension of selective traffic calming measures.
We see the rigorous enforcement of the existing motorway and trunk road speed limit as little more than cynical exercise in raising even more revenue from motorists. It is also perhaps symptomatic of a general move to a less liberal and less tolerant society where citizens' freedom is more controlled than it has been in the past.

Great Britain Car Crime Capital of Europe

Time was when wise men and women cautioned against taking expensive and desirable machinery to Italy because car theft there was said to be endemic. In 1992 car thefts in the United Kingdom were approaching 600,000 (excluding thefts from motor cars) nearly double the rate in Italy. Meanwhile , the Germans think they have problems. Since re-unification car theft there has risen by 245% - but is still only a quarter of the rate over here.
The figures are a national disgrace but is anything being done to reduce the figure. The Government seems oblivious to the problem and the onus is being put on car owners and manufacturers to solve it. The problem is, the thieves are always a jump ahead. A new black box decoder is being developed which can decode your car alarm and immobiliser - and even opens the doors by activating the central locking! It is quite legal for anyone to process one of these devices, as the law stands at present. We would like to see them banned completely - except in the hands of a police officer.


Join The Association of British Drivers Now!

The Association of British Drivers held its first meeting in Derby on September 26th, 1992. Our objective is to provide an active, responsible voice & lobby for the beleaguered British car driver.

Formed by a number of responsible people from all walks of life & including long standing members of the Institute of Advanced Motorists.

The Association wholly rejects proposals for trunk road and motorway toll charges and road pricing as an unprovoked and totally unjustified assault on the liberties and livelihoods of Britain's motorists. Government already extracts FOUR TIMES AS MUCH from British Motorists as it ploughs back into transport related projects. It is therefore completely unacceptable for Government to suggest that British road users should be compelled to further contribute (even to the extent of the lowest reported estimate of an additional £15 to £20 per month) for the "privilege" of using badly maintained urban and rural roads, and often congested and persistently under-engineered motorways; to which latter roads are frequently applied an ineffective (in road safety terms) traffic control policy and an archaic speed limit policy.

The Associated considers the placing of speed cameras on the safest roads in the country, our motorways, to be little more than a cynical, revenue generating measure; like toll charges and urban road pricing.

It does, however, WHOLLY SUPPORT the positioning of cameras at such places as traffic lights and in other urban locations, where they can be expected to make a genuine contribution to Government's stated aim of reducing road casualties.

If the purpose of the 1991 Road Traffic Act is to reduce road casualties, then the enforcement and punishment policy is topsy-turvy when a driver travelling at 40 mph in a 30 mph zone (33% above the limit) is much more likely to be involved in a fatal accident, and yet remain un-apprehended; while the points penalty and fine which can be imposed on a driver proceeding responsibly at 93 mph (the same proportion, 33%, above the speed limit) on an empty motorway (who is much less likely to be involved in an accident) could be substantially stiffer under the provisions of this Act.

This is a nonsense: there is no correspondence between the points penalty and the seriousness of the offence. Many people may be unaware that two minor motoring offices within a three year period could now result in loss of driving licence, and hence liberty, for 6 months. Surely, if Government's concern is truly road safety, and not merely revenue, penalties and fines should be assessed to reflect the TRUE ROAD SAFETY IMPLICATIONS of a given offence.

Clearly, the main thrust of Government road safety policy should be to educate motorists to obey REALISTIC speed limits and above all else to make safe use of speed and stopping distance on all roads. Unrealistic speed limits are unlikely to be respected, and those drivers apprehended will merely feel aggrieved at being persecuted (and prosecuted) illogically.

A transport policy as blatantly mercenary as this is currently proposed is a indisputable indication that Government is totally unconcerned with road safety, and committed only to extorting as much from the British road user as is conceivably obtainable. The Association of British Drivers aims to bring these vital transport issues (with their worrying implications for the preservation of individual liberty) to the forefront of the political agenda; with the objective of, if necessary, influencing the voting intentions of road users in the direction of whichever political party offers them the fairest, most logical, consistent and truly road-safety conscious set of policies.

The detailed objectives of the Association of British Drivers include:-

Counter Anti-motorist Lobbies

Oppose Unnecessary and Oppressive Policing

Oppose Unreasonable Motoring Taxation, Fines and Toll Charges

Campaign to Raise Driving Standards

Campaign to Raise Vehicle & Road Safety Standards

Campaign to Raise The Motorway Speed Limit in Safe Traffic Conditions

Promote The Responsible Use of Modern Traffic Control Technology

Campaign to Achieve An Increase in Transport Investment Funding

Achieve Effective Communication between the Government and the Motorist

Don't delay! As a motorist your liberty and your wallet is under threat. Join the Association of British Drivers and help other ordinary motorists campaign to protect our right to drive on British roads without being subject to unreasonable speed limits, unfair fines, tolls and gross over taxation.

Just fill in the form below and send, with a cheque (payable to The Association of British Drivers), to the Secretary, The Association of British Drivers, [address removed as no longer applicable]. (If you have been convicted of any motoring offence in the last ten years please give details. (The Association reserves the right to refuse membership to any persons convicted of dangerous or reckless driving, drunken driving or similar offences). The Committee has set the membership subscription at £12 per year January to December, (Less £1 per full month after January).

[ Form omitted ]


Traffic News

Evil Eye Technology

The authorities have installed a video camera system on the M20 in Kent to police the temporary 50 mph speed limit in road works. The system is able to read car number plates and measure vehicle speeds. The registration numbers of speeding drivers are displayed on a variable message sign further down the road. More advanced systems are being developed which will connect with the DVLC computer in Swansea thus enabling the complete robotisation of traffic speed policing. A summons could then arrive on your doormat without a specific decision to prosecute you having been made by a human being!

Electronic Tagging First Criminals Now Motorists

Electronic tagging first used in America to keep tabs on offenders on bail is being considered for use on our soon to be privatised motorways. Cars will by law carry an electronic identifier which will be logged by road side receivers. The receivers will be connected to a computer system which will issue "Road Charge Bills" to motorists. The computer will know when and where you have travelled and so will the authorities! This will be an unprecedented assault on the privacy and civil liberty of millions of law abiding citizens. It is interesting to note how quick our Lords and Masters, politicians, are in drafting legislation which will protect their privacy from prying journalists and how cavalier they are with our privacy.

GATSO on M5 in Devon?

Signs indicating the use of police enforcement cameras have appeared on the M5 at the Devon border. Assuming that this is not an empty threat, GATSO cameras are being used to police traffic speeds on what are very nearly the safest roads in the world and in the safest traffic conditions. Note that GATSO cameras are preprogrammed robots which can only police fixed speed limits and are therefore useless in policing reduced speed limits, as indicated on matrix signs, in poor traffic conditions or in emergencies. Speed limits are therefore not policed when they are really needed and policed only when they are not. Motorway Madness!

British Motorways nearly bottom of the class

According to a survey conducted among 7,000 frequent European motorway drivers, when asked "Who has the best motorway systems in Europe" 47% of those questioned responded West Germany; 21% France; 8% Belgium; 7% Switzerland; 6% Italy; 5% Holland; 3% Spain; 2% UK; 1% Portugal. It is worth noting that the most popular motorway system in Europe has no overall speed limit.

Living with risk

According to Government statistics if you drive 10,000 kilometres a year on this country's motorways you will suffer a risk of one in 33,000 per annum of being killed in a motorway accident. The BMA Guide to Living With Risk states that the annual risk of fatality from smoking 10 cigarettes per day is one in 200; from violence or poisoning, one in 3,300; from influenza, one in 5,000; from a road accident, one in 8,000; from leukaemia, one in 12,500; from playing soccer, one in 25,000; and from an accident in the home, one in 26,000. Driving on our motorways is therefore comparatively safe despite the fact that most drivers ignore our outdated motorway speed limit.

Budget Road Fund License increase likely

Media reports have indicated that the Chancellor Kenneth Clarke is considering hitting motorists with a massive hike in the road fund license in order to help get the Government out of its " Awful Hole"! Apparently one option being considered is the "layered" system as used in France; the motorist would suffer a levy based on the engine size, fuel consumption and list price.

Matrix signs not working in fog

On Wednesday 15th September 1993 Brian Redhead on the "Today Programme" reported a burnt out vehicle at junction 1A of the M40 and warned drivers to take care. What Mr Redhead had failed to mention was that the M40 in the Chilterns was covered in thick fog and that the matrix signs were not switched on. Had there been a bad accident on this section at that time the traffic control authorities would have been in no small way responsible for the death and injury thereby caused.

DoT Plans Monster Motorways

The DoT intends to accommodate the forecast growth in demand for road space by widening part of the existing motorway network to dual four, and seven lane standard. The DoT is considering allowing undertaking on these widened sections and has put the proposal out for consultation. Furthermore the DoT proposes reduced speed limits to offset increased accident risk that would result from the introduction of undertaking. Trucks would no longer be limited to the two inside lanes. Imagine driving on a dual five lane section of the M1 at a maximum of 50 mph sandwiched on all sides by massive juggernauts. A pretty grim prospect!

Lone Drivers to be Banned from Outside Lane

The Transport Secretary has visited the USA to investigate the use of restricted lanes for the sole use by passenger carrying vehicles. Car drivers unless carrying at least one passenger would be banned from using the fast lane at peak times. This would mean that lone drivers travelling from the North intending to reach the channel coast via the M25 would be severely delayed by being caught in the congested inside lanes on the M25. The small proportion of drivers choosing to share their cars would not fully occupy the outside lane leaving it virtually free of traffic. Highly convenient for chauffeured VIP's, Government Ministers and Royalty. Not only would this be unfair, it would be an inefficient way to use scarce road space. Another bright idea from the DoT.

Members urged to write to their MP

The Committee urges ABD members to write to their MPs to make their views known. MPs will reply to their constituents letters and will obtain an answer from the Government Department concerned. In our case this is the DoT. This ensures that Government is made aware of our views and teases out the issues.

Speed alone is not the problem

An article in the Guardian newspaper on 28th August 1993 reported the views of a senior traffic policeman, Inspector Michael Cunningham, of Hertfordshire Police's Traffic Management Unit. He was reported to have said that, the biggest single cause of motorway accidents was not speed alone, but drivers misjudging their own speed and the distance between vehicles and that it was important for drivers to look beyond the car in front and to adjust their speed to the traffic conditions.It was further reported that 28 % of all accidents on the M25 were caused by drivers misjudging their speed and distance and 27% were caused by motorists driving too close to the car in front. The Guardian's correspondent made the point that while speeding was not a problem on its own it could compound other problems such as roadworks, drivers misjudging speed and distance, and close following.

Members urged to send in letters and articles in to On The Road

This journal seeks to provide a forum for debate. Please send in letters and articles for future issues of this journal. Your views count. Preference will be given to items on 3.5 inch floppy plus hard copy (any mainstream WP format will do). Publication cannot be guaranteed and items may be edited. Please give your name and address when submitting items. (disks will be returned after copying). Please send items to the Secretary, The Association of British Drivers, [address removed as no longer applicable].

ABD needs more members

Government is in the process of taking decisions which affect you as a motorist.

Your liberty and your wallet is under threat.

Encourage your friends and colleagues to join the ABD and to help in the campaign to protect our freedom.

It is vital that we as motorists organise NOW. If we delay it will be too late!

This edition of 'On The Road' was published in November 1993


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