Friday 5 September 2008 2.51pm
Accept all your points, but it does sadden me that there are accidents which happen from simple, avoidable, driver error or a driver acting irresponsibly (e.g. running an amber>>red light), and our default way of dealing with it is to redesign the road rather than to deal with the driver.
It's like accepting that people will never drive sensibly, and that there's no hope of trying to coerce them to do that, so let's just fence everywhere off and put in loads of light-controlled junctions.
I was brought up in a culture where you obey the rules of the road. Whether they may inconvenience you personally, or not. This doesn't seem to be the case now, but instead of trying to get people to follow the rules we are redesigning the roads.
On a visit to the town where I grew up, recently, I noticed that most of the places where there used to be a roundabout or an ordinary junction had been replaced by traffic lights. I got talking about that in the pub to someone who I later found out was a traffic policeman. Their explanation of the situation was that there wasn't particularly any more traffic around now than there was 20 years ago, but that standards of driving had fallen so low that your average driver couldn't really handle a "complex" junction or a roundabout, and so they'd all been replaced with traffic lights.
I'd rather see a concentration on better driving skills (backed up, if necessary, with stricter punishments for breaking driving laws), than trying to deal with it by changing the roads. If some people are prone to run red lights, they will do it whatever shape the junction is. Only difference is that on one of these new "safe" junctions, the pedestrians, or the traffic coming the other way on a green light, will possibly not be as aware of the possiblity of that as they would on the old "dangerous" junctions.
...if you press it, they will come.