Top Gear Made a Scapegoat for Bad Safety
Clarkson & Co Should be Safety Champions say ABD
In yet another insurance company PR exercise, this time by Co-operative Insurance, the BBC's Top Gear has been blamed for creating a 'culture of speeding' amongst young drivers.
The ABD has often condemned these trite surveys, aimed at grabbing column inches by jumping on emotive bandwagons, but this time things have gone a stage further, with roads minister Jim Fitzpatrick being roped in to support the report following a 'Parliamentary Reception'. 1
"The Government is treating Top Gear as scapegoat for the failure of its road safety policies," said ABD spokesman Nigel Humphries. "They have spent the last 20 years demonising speed, hounding and bullying safe drivers and showing total contempt for excellence in driving. Young drivers who have grown up with this are confused about speed and have picked up the cynicism towards road safety and the police shown by their elders. As a result, they know how to avoid speed cameras but its very hard for them to learn to drive safely, so more of them are being killed."
"The tragedy is that Top Gear is in the best position to glamourise safe and excellent driving by telling people how to use speed correctly, because it has the ear of the young. The road safety industry should be courting the programme to this end instead of condemning it. We would challenge Top Gear to rise to this criticism by becoming champions of excellence in driving — teenagers would listen to the STIG if the message made sense."
The survey itself contains few surprises. Why is the fact that most people admit they break the speed limit news, when 95% of police, magistrates and driving instructors do the same? With speed limits being reduced all the time, breaking them is nothing to do with fast driving — normal, steady progress has been made illegal.
Mr Neave of Co-operative insurance trots out the old chestnut that speeding should have the same stigma as drink driving, but there is not a chance of this whilst speed limits are lowered to unacceptable levels and when the police themselves are allowed to speed on duty but not to drink and drive!
Meanwhile, Fitzpatrick himself demands that the one in seven 'extreme speeders' are subject to the 'full force of the law'. Farcical, since the police themselves are at the forefront of the fastest drivers and when he is supporting 50mph limits on rural roads, including many dual carriageways which mean that 70mph behaviour that is legal and perfectly reasonable one day is 'extreme speeding' the next.
"This just shows these people are on another planet and are part of the safety problem not the solution." concludes Humphries.