Driving…an extinction event

The golden age of driving….the beginning of the end

This blogs all about the current state of motoring, not only in our region but nation-wide, and is a wake-up call to all those who think that the golden age of motoring has a future. It’s hard to admit, especially for the likes of ourselves, after all most traffic officers have an emotional attachment to driving and the internal combustion engine in at least one of its inceptions, but the writings on the wall, we are living in the last generations of driving, and with it the last generations of Traffic Officers, at least in their current inception….so grab a brew, a few biscuits and dunk and read away, or drop a few crumbs if you prefer not to dunk. Oh and the soundtrack to read this one to should be a Black Sabbath track as Aston’s finest have called it a day, maybe The Wizard or for the “hard pressed motorists” out there (aka those who can’t drive or ride within the law)…….. Paranoid……


Ahhh, another “trusted” driver fails to uphold their end of the contract





“Pleasure drive” – the ultimate oxymoron?

Hilarious isn’t it the term pleasure drive, is there such a thing anymore? There certainly doesn’t seem to anyone relaxed and enjoying the experience, at best a stressful yet functional part of modern life, at worst a bizarre form of 21st Century mock gladiatorial combat where the participants (supposedly law abiding citizens of the land) exhibit traits and behaviour they would never dream of displaying in any other area of their everyday life. Welcome to the beginning of the end, and as with everything that ends, it is usually down to our own behaviour. This particular extinction event, the demise of the driver is no different.


The end is nigh!

We were trusted with the ultimate responsibility, the task of piloting motorised vehicles, all be it to a strict set of laws and guidelines, necessary due to the damage a motorised vehicle of any size or form can do to the frail human form. Yet we have shown as a collective, us drivers and riders of mechanically propelled vehicles, that we are incapable of carrying the burden and shrug continually the social responsibility of being good law abiding road users. We championed and celebrated all that is good and enjoyable with motor vehicles, the performance, the luxury, everything that made us look beyond the negatives, the current main one being the 5 people who die and 63 who are seriously injured daily on our road network due to the way we pilot them. Not to mention the tens of thousands a year whose early demise is aided by our favourite steel polluting machines, an impact that is now sending serious repercussions throughout the health and transport world. Imagine if you put those 5 people who die daily and 63 who are seriously injured on a train or plane, there would be a national outcry, no one would use such a dangerous form of transport, it’s insane, almost inhuman some might say. But alas it’s the selfish price we continue to pay, a price that could be dramatically reduced if everyone just obeyed the law and showed due respect to each other, but as I have previously mentioned we have proved ourselves incapable of doing this. That is why technology has taken control of the driver’s destiny, and that destiny is the demise of the driver.  Manufacturers see this and are striving to be the first to make it work. It’s also part of the answer to congestion and pollution issues, after all your self- driving vehicle will not make the errors of judgement or break the road traffic laws that drivers currently do, reducing collisions dramatically keeping roads running smoothly at the busiest of times, and of course driving in the most environmentally appropriate fashion at all times. Computer controlled vehicles will link in with traffic systems reducing waiting times; they won’t block junctions, roundabouts or crossings. Basically they will do everything the human driver or rider has proven themselves unwilling or incapable of doing.  But in the meantime let us explore what those who are minded to do something about the current dire state of motoring can actually do to reduce the horrific cost in death and injury the nation currently demands to keep our road network running.


The Behaviour test

Stand outside a school at the start or end of the school day and watch the behaviour of passing drivers. See how many you can catch with a phone in their hand, speeding and the other multitude of sins we have to deal with daily, but surely this should be where a driver is most cautious, after all the likelihood of a child making the ultimate error is at its upmost at such a location, drivers care….don’t they ?. Then go into the busy city centre with its 24/7 congestion plus thousands of vulnerable road users, cyclists and pedestrians everywhere, again surely the drivers would be paying attention, driving slowly, just in case? Then go onto the rural road, unseen potential hazards everywhere around each corner, horses, cyclists, farm vehicles, do you ever see any driver driving to the conditions before them. How many collisions in rain or fog are due to vehicles being too fast and too close? How many of our children must we lose because people think they can drive a car or ride a motorbike like it’s a video game? It’s all down to driver behaviour, remove the driver, remove the collision, it’s simple, vehicles don’t crash themselves. Some will be reading this and uttering to themselves “It’s just the few, I’m a good driver”, are you? Do you drive like it’s your driving test every day? Do you stay under every speed limit, always signal when you should, use your lights correctly, stop at the amber instead of inanely racing towards it to beat the red, wear your seat belt?, The list is endless when it comes to things supposed “good competent” drivers don’t do. The test is the minimum standard, if you don’t drive or ride to that standard every time you get on the road you are part of the problem, be honest with yourselves…….


So many people to look out for yet most drivers see none of this or chose to ignore, to everyone else’s peril !

Some will say, “why don’t you tell them to pay attention, slow down, take care” well let’s play a game, how many road safety campaigns can you remember….., it’s not hard, we have over a dozen in their various forms a year. We’ve tried to tell them, to educate. We even have a theory and practical test to ensure motorists are fit for the road to reinforce the necessity of complying with the law and having a careful and considerate nature towards our road use. Do the campaigns or test’s effect driver behaviour? we all know the answer. People will read headlines in the national press about families being killed by a driver who used his phone, broke the law, and utter how terrible it was…….. as they travel down the road above the speed limit, phone in their lap with a light out, having never checked their tyre pressures or condition……but they did take the time to have illegal dangerous tints to fitted their drivers windows, or hang something from their rear view mirror that partially blocks their forward view……


Changing behaviour, the tools of the trade

The most effective tool to curtail adverse driver behaviour is the threat of prosecution ,if people think they will be caught doing something they don’t do it, we’ll come onto that later…but first another piece of technology that precedes the driverless car, the insurance black box. Yes that’s right those little black boxes really do work, it would seem that the threat of having your insurance cancelled and suffering a large financial penalty if you drive to a substandard level seems to work, fancy that…..it’s almost like enforcement by the back door, shame that insurance companies don’t make them mandatory really, the effect would be profound, cheaper policies, better driving, insurance monitoring black boxes literally saving lives, contributing to the wellbeing of society………just a thought. And for those who are screaming “it’s just the big brother nanny state telling us what to do and how to live our lives” just remember, drivers were trusted to do the right thing, but alas can’t, just stand at the side of any road with a speed gun and see how many cars actually exceed the speed limit, most do. Some may complain of the nanny state but it’s become increasingly necessary when it comes to motorised road use, just look at the comments by most drivers regards road safety on social media, attitude says a lot about behaviour, if you went on some comments seen on social media regards sharing the road and improving safety you wouldn’t let these people drive a child’s pedal car around your garden, let alone a vehicle on the road with all the risk that carries. You see many like to blame someone else, blame the victim, many just don’t have the attitude or demeanour to be on the road in the first place, modern day personalities and priorities just don’t mix with being in charge of a potential killing machine.

Which leads us nicely back to our definition of the “hard pressed motorist” ….the motorist who is expected to obey the law……..


A speed check at one of the busiest pedestrian crossings in Birmingham, drivers caught at 50 % above the speed limit whilst on their phone, says it all really….




The perfect storm is coming

What’s he on about now I hear you say, well it’s like this, traffic levels are rising at about 1.4% a year. Factor in population growth, of which those in the age bracket most likely to drive is swelled by migration and you see that within 8 years we will have over 10% more vehicles on our roads. Anyone think we’ll have 10 % more road capacity? Imagine the cost for a start, it’s impossible.

So we have more motor vehicles, at the same time we will have more vulnerable road users, as those who are economically excluded from the motor vehicle select club or those who have consciously chosen to “do their bit” and participate in a healthier, cleaner form of transport actually look to take advantage of their local authorities transport plan. You will notice that no local authorities are looking to increase vehicular traffic, to do so would be tantamount to community “self-harming”. The consequence to the driver of this “perfect storm” is more time spent watching a stationary queue of traffic stretching before them, the consequence for those not sat in a vehicle is an increased risk of injury, here’s why ……

You see the modern motor vehicle is a fine feat of engineering, it can be driven into a brick wall at 50mph and the occupants can walk away relatively injury free. This “security” has however endangered vulnerable road users where it protects the driver. Drivers with their subliminal feeling of safety relax, pay less attention, start practicing poor driving, they speed, don’t pay attention, release their frustration that’s been compounded by sitting in slow moving or stationary traffic with an aggressive driving demeanour, all to the detriment of vulnerable road users. Just look at how may don’t wear a seatbelt properly or at all, this is the best evidence of how safe most feel inside a modern vehicle. Given our increasing levels of both vehicular traffic being driven to an ever poorer standard and more vulnerable road users in a finite area of road we are left with only one inevitable consequence, more vulnerable road users killed and seriously on our roads, in contrast to those in vehicles who become safer in heavy traffic due to reduced collision speeds. Now as a police force we are duty bound to protect the vulnerable, pedestrians, child and elderly pedestrians especially, those making socially beneficial transport choices such as cyclists, we are duty bound to support our communities transport policies and do all we can to create an environment where they can succeed. The long and short of it is drivers, who pose the greatest threat of harm on our roads need to get their house in order, or we’ll do it for them.


Twenties plenty and the car vs pedestrian

Why 20mph limits? Well because firstly it cuts down dramatically the numbers killed and seriously injured on our urban roads, quite simply it gives drivers and other road users the time needed to first make the correct driving decisions and second react to others mistakes, i.e. that child who suddenly runs into the road or the vehicle that pulls out in-front of you. If nothing else it lessens the seriousness of any collision. 20mph is not far below the average speed for many of our urban roads anyway so time wise drivers are not really losing out either, even if they were, small price to pay to lessen the carnage on our roads surely…..now don’t be selfish drivers after all you only get to the back of the next traffic jam fractionally quicker! Plus it won’t be long given the rising congestion levels before we reach the capital’s average speed of 7.5mph!! So just think in a few years a 20mph limit will be literally be light speed compared to the average speed of traffic on our roads.


Many will say that no one drives to Birmingham’s new 20mph limits, this is true many don’t, but they will. Despite a highly publicised campaign of educational measures including roadside educational alternatives to prosecution we get numerous complaints and too often see the effects of drivers exceeding the limit. So “Out goes the carrot and in comes the stick”, after nearly 6 months of the limits it’s apparent that many drivers just don’t care or are incapable of driving to the new limit, just like they can’t drive to most limits, including the old 30mph limits. Again we come back to the previously stated situation where drivers proved themselves incapable collectively of driving at 30mph or below, you had your chance now 20mph limits are deemed necessary to protect our communities from drivers who don’t meet the standard of “safe and competent road users”. We need somewhere in the region of one in four compliance for the limits to be effective given urban traffic levels, the one in four slow everyone else down and produce safer roads. We will achieve this through enforcement, we will even use covert speed checks if necessary in the most vulnerable of locations, the loss of life on our regions roads is unacceptable to our communities, some drivers may be dismayed and distraught at the idea of us getting all “sneaky” to catch dangerous drivers, but they had their chance, “the gloves are off” as they say when it comes to the fight against the dangerous motorist in our region. But remember those who can drive to the required standard, “the law abiding motorist” have nothing to worry about, quite the opposite their journeys should become more pleasant as a result. Whilst we are on the subject our region does have some very good drivers, our plain clothes cyclists used in #OpClosePass have been overtaken by tens of thousands of very good, considerate drivers on our regions roads, and they are in the majority and should rest easy in the knowledge that we target only those who pose a threat, those doing the speed limit, not using their phone, not driving without due care and attention never get stopped, funny that………and they never complain when we start prosecuting those who do not comply with the law either, only poor incompetent drivers complain about enforcement campaigns, because they are the ones who are the problem and need to worry.


Analysis of KSI data shows that drivers are not paying attention at vulnerable locations.


And for those who say “traffic cops, nothing better to do…” your right…..we haven’t got anything better to do…….reducing the amount of people killed and seriously injured on our roads is at the top of our list of priorities, so why would we do anything else ?

Our 2017 wish list

If we could change anything to make this year better than the last, these would be top of our road safety wishlist….it is representative of the personal opinions of myself and my colleagues, not the West Midlands Police, though you would be hard pressed to find anyone in our organisation who would disagree.

Points don’t mean prizes !!

12 points is hard to get for a competent safe driver, in fact they don’t get anywhere near. Some pick up 3 at some point during their driving when they switch off and fall below the expected standard, triggering a speed camera or the like, or some might have to attend an educational course when their driving again slips below the expected standard. It serves as a wakeup call to most that their driving and awareness isn’t up to the required standard and they rarely trouble the Traffic Process Office again. So to get to twelve points shows a real inability to drive to a safe and competent level. 12 points should result in disqualification, the farce of letting drivers continue past 12 points for whatever reason is an affront to those who have lost loved ones to drivers who regularly break the law, time it stopped.

Disqualification = mandatory retest

In order to get disqualified from driving you will have had to show a continued disregard for the law or a single act of such magnitude that a court feels you must lose your licence for a period of time. Either of these scenarios shows that such a driver clearly does not have the correct demeanour, responsibility, ability or attitude to be a safe and competent driver and as such is a risk to the safety of everyone else on the road. Surely then given this they should be all be retested as a result, they have clearly displayed the inability to be a safe responsible road user, only a retest can ensure they once again, following their disqualification be deemed fit to be a safe licence holder once again. Courts can impose a disqualification until test passed, we would like to see it imposed for all disqualifications under all circumstances. After all we revoke the licences of new drivers who reach 6 points in their first 2 years of driving resulting in a retest, why not do the same for those who reach 12, or are disqualified for a single offence. By taking a theory test and practical test only then can they prove they are once again at the level that is both practically and mentally suitable to be in charge of a mechanically propelled vehicle on our roads.


You are a huge threat to others when behind the wheel, drivers need to wake up to that fact and drive accordingly ! A wholesale change in driving attitudes is required.



Reduce the drink drive level

It’s been a success in Scotland, is any other reason needed to follow suit ?, and although this will cause great dismay to many Brexiteers Europe also has the same level as Scotland with no issues making the roads safer all. It’s about time we woke up and caught up, a reduction in the drink drive level leaves no uncertainty such as the situation we have currently where people think its okay to have one or two and drive. The correct amount to drink when driving is nothing, anyone who thinks otherwise again displays all the qualities that lead to the innocent dying on our roads. Once again our drink drive level is yet more evidence as to our prevailing attitude towards road safety in our country.


A change in attitude

If I was to say we have a problem with a “Top Gear” mentality its’s not an intentional slight on the programme, it’s a scenario where the selfish, inconsiderate attitude of a motorist takes precedence over the safety of others. This is clearly displayed all too regularly on our roads, it need s to stop. We need caring considerate motorists who display all the traits that prove they are responsible road users. Our vulnerable road users need to come first, those whose choice of transportation is environmentally friendly, reduces congestion, leads to a healthier lifestyle lessening the burden on other public services are doing everything right, everything society asks of them, the motorist, all be it under some circumstances with no alternative, is doing the opposite. Expect in the coming years road safety practitioners to increasingly look to protect and promote those transport choices currently considered vulnerable by making them safe, secure and desirable transport choices. Motorists are going to have to get used to this and the changes in their behaviour and road use it will bring, a change in attitude and an acceptance of no longer being the priority on our road system will be needed.

So that’s where we are, this blogs been a bit of a “scene setter” if you like for what you will see over the next few years. Anyone who thinks differently really does have their head in the sand, if you don’t believe me, have a look at your local transport plan, you will see that vehicles and drivers have no place anymore in our transport solutions, at least not until the driver is finally extinct, having being replaced by a computer and all our vehicles are cleaner and more efficient to the point where they no longer negatively impact on our communities. In an age where we are building record numbers of vehicles in this country we are no longer building roads for them, quite the opposite, all major transport investment is rail, cycle or pedestrian focused.

In the meantime when we do drive our vehicles we must remember that when we do we pose a greater threat to other people than at any other point in our existence. The motor vehicle is a far more destructive and efficient weapon than the gun, remember that next time you drive or ride. If someone handed you a loaded gun you would handle it with the upmost care, do the same in your motor vehicle, because if you don’t, the results are pretty much the same.

At the start you will have read “The Beginning of the End” and it is just the beginning, there’s a good few more years of people being able to drive yet before the technology is ready to take over completely, until we get there let’s make it as painless as possible, take great care when you’re out there, because remember it’s at this point in your daily existence you are the greatest threat not only to yourself, but everyone one else on that road.

For those who have read this and are distraught at the thought that the days of driving are numbered listen to one last Black Sabbath track……”It’s alright”….and remember you can always drive however you like on your games consoles 😉


In the next few blogs we’ll look at enforcing the new mobile phone penalties due in March, our new Operation to protect all vulnerable road users at collision hotspots OpSaferCrossing, and everyone’s favourite  insurance, it’s scams, the uninsured, the falsely insured and we’ll also focus on the insurers, and how some companies aren’t really helping a worsening situation.


51 thoughts on “Driving…an extinction event

  1. ericonabike

    Excellent analysis as ever. For an historical parallel, just check out Mr Toad’s attitude and behaviour in’ Wind in the Willows’. Over a hundred years later, we have still not evolved…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Richard Taylor

    Thought provoking. A little quibble. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to get ALL police car drivers to obey the law? Local police cars in Solihull frequently negotiate three way junctions without using indicators! I’m thinking especially of the New Rd/Warwick Rd and Warwick Rd/Hampton Lane junctions where the Left lane is Left, ahead or Right.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Iain C - cyclist

      He has a point there officers – some (not all) police really do need to set a better example themselves when just driving normally and it’s not an urgent situation. Monkey see monkey do.


    2. replete

      A good driver is an aware driver.

      Make looking at mobile phones, eating sandwiches, talking in your car, or blinking too often illegal and there will still be oblivious distracted idiots causing accidents.

      I wish we could limit the ‘driving permissions’ of people that are not cognitively able to be responsible on the road. Instead, the best solution we can come up with is of the lowest common denominator.

      Bring on self-driving cars. Mesh-networked self-driving cars will enable higher speeds and optimal use of road bandwidth.

      Forget car ownership, I’ll happily rent a car pod as long as I can get from a to b whenever needed.


  3. Bear Humphreys

    Reblogged this on A Relocated Bear and commented:
    Another brilliant blog by the West Midlands Traffic Police that is worth all drivers among you reading. It is long but very thought provoking so if you have time to give it a go, please do, someone’s life might be saved if it has the desired effect on you.


  4. ianrobo

    Fantastic piece and just wished they had even more resources.

    As a car driver AND cyclist you see daily bad drivers and only takes one incident to ruin my or anyone else family.

    the penalties simply have to be stronger and enforcement greater.


  5. Linbeth

    Every time I get behind the wheel, I am acutely aware that I am in sole control of a murder weapon! As a driver, though, I feel that the current standard of road education for cyclists and the rules is very poor. The lycraclads are the worst with their often obnoxious treatment of other vehicles. I have no problem whatsoever with the ones who wear the correct clothing and safety items, and abide by the rules that apply to the rest of us. I am not a phone user whilst driving and I detest those who are. And if I had a fiver for every time I’ve been overtaken by some selfish idiot whilst doing 30 in a 30 limit, I’d be richer than the Queen! And don’t even get me started on Sat navs in the middle of the windscreen obscuring vision. Love or hate the traffic cops, there needs to be a lot more of them. I don’t fear them, I have no reason to but it would be so nice not to have other drivers flashing their headlights at me because there’s a cop with a hand held around the next bend! I’m driving within the law so all that does is make me pull over to find out what’s wrong with the car to make them flash me. Idiots always assume everyone is like them. I, for one, am not.

    Great blog though, looking forward to reading more.


    1. james

      There is no correct clothing for cycling ( though I assume there is a requirement to wear some clothes ). The hi viz and helmet nonsense is just a type of victim blaming as if someone not wearing what you assume to be correct is less worthy of your safe driving and respect. Millions cycle in other countries without such silliness and are not dying in droves or drooling from mass brain injuries (which helmets can’t protect you from). I agree with you on every thing else esp. the annoying flashers.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Iain C - cyclist

      Linbeth, next time you see a “lycraclad” with their “obnoxious treatment” just calm down and think of this – people riding hazardously will likely only kill themselves on a bicycle (no great loss I hear most motorists say) but if they drove a car half as bad as that they could kill you & your family. Poor cyclists don’t stay as poor cyclists very long – they either learn quickly after a few minor crashes (like me), crash too often and get scared off cycling or kill themselves. Poor cyclists simply don’t have the physics to kill drivers like you protected in your tin cans & cyclists rarely kill pedestrians or other cyclists. Whereas poor car drivers kill thousands of innocent bystanders and permanently disable (brain damage, spinal paralysis, amputations, blinding etc.) tens of thousands more. (I don’t know UK figures. In Australian it’s over 1,300 dead and 40,000 seriously injured each year by cars.)
      I have been a daily commuter cyclist (Rode up to 25km to work each way) & occassional “lycraclad” sports rider for 34 years. I’ve had a car licence for 35 years and broken more rules in my car than I can even break on my bicycle. I’ve never nearly killed anyone on my bike. I’ve only just missed killing several people in my car. It was my cycling situational awareness that enbled me to avoid many crashes caused by others or myself in my car.
      I suggest you consider that many studies in USA & Australia have shown that in about 85% of bike Vs car crashes, it’s the motorist who caused the crash not the cyclists. Some Monash University studies using street cameras and bike helmet cameras showed that in up to 95% (in Canberra. In Melbourne it was about 85% I think) drivers were regularly failing to give way or causing an incident to cyclists but it was the much more alert cyclists who spotted the offender, recognised the hazard and took evasive action to avoid the incident becoming a crash.
      Don’t disciminate against all cyclists just because of the actions of a few. Such discrimination is no better than sexism, racism etc.
      Also I suggest you look up the term “Confirmation bias” whereby people only tend to notice things – like “lycraclads” “obnoxious behaviour”, when it confirms their personal beliefs. People don’t notice the million & 1 other cyclists not doing anything “obnoxious”.
      The rest of your comment I agree with – we are not really very different except I ride a bicycle to work and hence don’t add to the traffic jams all the cars cause.
      Next time you drive to work or somewhere in busy traffic, add up all the time you are stuck behind cars or trying to find a parking spot. Compare that to how much time you are delayed by bicycles? (And being behind a bike for 5 seconds before you get stuck in a long queue at traffic lights really isn’t a delay since even if you got to the end of the queue faster, you couldn’t have got past the queued cars anyway. In fact if the bike rider had driven instead or ride, that would have been yet another car in front holding you up, perhaps just enough to miss that green light, and taking that last parking spot you wanted.) You’ll most likely find there is no comparison because it’s cars that cause traffic congestion and take up that parking space you wanted.
      Your car is part of the cause of urban traffic congestion and many other problems. Try riding a bicycle instead & become part of the cheaper, healthier & often quicker transport solution.


      1. Linbeth

        I’m not disputing statistics. I notice cyclists who are not doing anything obnoxious and I am always pleased to see that. I don’t have any issues with them at all. I treat all cyclists with courtesy but don’t always get the same in return. I, along with quite a large proportion of vehicle drivers, do give consideration to the most vulnerable road users and I often feel incensed at being labelled by cyclists as a reckless car driver. I can no longer ride a bike and we do not have an accessible bus service so a car is my only option. I would like to see better training and education for all road users as it seems even the standard for passing the driving test differs from region to region. I have no proof of that but some places just seem more hazardous, even in a car


    3. Matt

      Hi Linbeth

      Could you clarify what you mean by cyclists wearing “correct clothing and safety items”? There’s no mandatory dress code for cyclists. The only mandatory safety items are reflectors and lights (even then only mandatory at night).

      What a cyclist chooses to wear really shouldn’t matter as far as the behaviour of those around them is concerned.


      1. Linbeth

        I was referring to the cyclists who don’t use lights or reflectors. Cycle helmets… I don’t see many of those either but regardless of whether that’s a legal requirement or not, it makes sense to wear one. It is true that what a cyclist wears shouldn’t make any difference to other road users but as a vulnerable group it is important to be clearly visible


    4. Just Barry (@Iamfftc)

      Lycraclads with their obnoxious treatment of other vehicles? How many people are the lycraclads killing Linbeth?

      Great blog though. I hope you are correct that things are changing for the better. They have only been getting worse in my lifetime. And I hope the judges are reading!


      1. Linbeth

        I don’t believe they are killing anyone but then, neither am I. It’s very easy to play the blame game. All road user groups seem to do it. I would just like to see everyone abiding by the rules of the road but I realise we don’t live in an ideal world and that’s never going to happen


    5. Martin Littlewood

      “Current standard of road education for cyclists and the rules is very poor” .. Yes, there are some, but as the article suggests it’s up to those road users who do take care to look out for the ‘idiots’ and adjust our driving accordingly. As a regular cyclist (I drive as well) I can assure you there are FAR more bad car drivers out there than bad cyclists and cyclists are not driving a ‘loaded gun’ either.

      Liked by 1 person

    6. jimpritchett79

      Cyclists can wear what they like, there is no such thing as the “correct clothing”. I choose to wear a helmet but doubt it’ll do any good if someone behind the wheel isn’t paying attention. On the other hand, statistically I’ll live longer & far healthier than those who don’t cycle. And I don’t have to pay for, a gym or worry about how much I eat.

      Great article, please have a word with your backwards looking colleagues in Greater Manchester. They still don’t get.


      1. Linbeth

        By “correct clothing” I simply mean protective and reflective. I encounter a great many cyclists, a large proportion of them care enough about themselves to make sure they wear item that will offer some protection should something bad happen. I am no longer able to cycle due to health issues and, living in a rural area with no buses, I don’t have many options for travel. I try to be a good and careful driver but I’m fully aware that there are drivers out there who seem to bear some kind of grudge towards cyclists. I am not one, providing they cycle to the rules as laid out in the Highway Code


      2. Mark Williams

        Hmmm, ‘protective and reflective’, you say 🤔… Nope, don’t think I’ve got anything like that. Would the slightly fluorescent (but minimally-reflective) advertising slogan on my black t-shirt be good enough for you with a few layers of bubble-wrap underneath? Maybe I could borrow one of Traffic WMP’s stab vests?

        If someone is not cycling ‘to the rules as laid out in the Highway Code’, as adjudged by you; does that make them fair game for a bit of vigilante justice or grudge-bearing, then? Why not just make ‘I am not one’ unconditional?


    7. Rich22222

      On one hand you denigrate people for wearing lycra, on the other hand you complain about the “lycraclads” not wearing “Correct clothing” and “safety items”, incidentally what are the correct safety items for taking part in an inherently safe activity?


      1. Linbeth

        I’m not denigrating anyone for wearing anything. The lycraclads that I was referring to do not annoy me because of their clothing or safety wear, it is their attitude to hogging the whole road as if it’s their right to stop cars passing. Again, it isn’t the majority but I can only go by my personal experiences of encountering them.


    8. Infinite Mokneys (@infinitemokneys)

      Who are these obnoxious “lycraclads”? I wear lycra while riding with a helmet, bell, lights and reflectives and observing the rules of the road. Meanwhile many drivers think cyclists should not ride 2 abreast, a misconception perpetuated by hearsay and ignorance of the highway code. My lycra clad companions and I look out for other road users and single out on busy or narrow roads. We encountered several horses this morning and slowed down, announced our presence and gave them a wide berth. Unfortunately I had a persistent cough today due to poor air quality, for which I thank the insane numbers of motor vehicles on our roads for their generous contribution. To add insult to injury, an antisocial minority of drivers feel entitled to hold certain opinions about cyclists, and some express them by shouting abuse or driving aggressively around vulnerable rosd users. There are a lot of opinionated drivers going around in their little bubbles where they are okay and other drivers or cyclists are idiots. Idiots abound among all groups of road users, but articles like this give me hope that moves may be afoot to address the problem, instead of tolerating bad driving because the laws are made and enforced by “fellow motorists”.


      1. Linbeth

        Riding two abreast is permissible by law, I am aware of that. However, around where I travel, packs of cyclists deliberately spread across the road so that you couldn’t possibly overtake them whilst giving them enough room. I don’t have a problem at all with anyone using the road as long as consideration is given to others using the road… That includes car drivers, bus drivers, truck drivers, horses, pedestrians and cyclists, whether motor or pedal. Many cyclists don’t make themselves clearly visible. Driving in town the other day there was a young lad wobbling his way along, no hands on the handlebars, earphones in, unwrapping sweets. I know only too well what an unexpected pothole or stone can do in such circumstances and if he had come off that bike in front of a car, the driver would probably be the villain. Motorcyclists are supposed to pass a CBT before using the roads, I would like to see something similar to assess the competence and understanding of road rules for everyone that uses the highways and byways. Pedestrians need more education too. It won’t stop accidents but raising awareness for all road users gives everyone a better chance.


    9. Andy Smith

      Do you know what the”current standard of road education for cyclists” is? I’m a very busy bikeability instructor and we’re teaching kids as fast as we can! I wish more drivers would understand why cyclists ride in the primary or secondary position in the road rather than the gutter.


      1. Linbeth

        I am very pleased that you are busy educating children about safe cycling. It is my firm belief that the cycling proficiency classes we had at school over 40 years ago should have been continued and developed as the road traffic landscape has changed. I understand only too well why cyclists don’t ride in the gutter… It’s the very reason why I gave up cycling after ending up a broken heap. I don’t blame them for that and I always allow plenty of room if overtaking, going fully onto the other side of the road in case they have to manoeuvre around something unexpected.


    10. Nanny Anne

      Parents/ childminders are another reason I get mad. Can’t be bothered to park up safely and walk a short distance to the school. Still dropping the kids off outside school gates when cones are out! Should be on the spot fines

      Liked by 1 person

  6. 2nkenn

    Great blog. I no longer live in the Midlands sadly. The driving standards down in the South West are shocking. Maybe you can shunt your blog along to the Police Service down here.


  7. Iain C - cyclist

    Bl–dy well said! I wish more police in Australia had your insights & good sense (it’s not common sense because unfortunately good sense is not common). In Australia drivers who caused car crashes have killed more Australians than all the wars, transport disasters, Spanish flu and terrorists. Yet politicians & media make a song & dance about wars and terrorism? Perhaps you might like to compare how many children have been killed by cars in the last 100 years to those killed by terrorists or in the WW2 Blitz. But when were kids evacuated & have authorities really tried to stop dangerous car drivers as much as they tried to stop terrorists & the Nazi bombers? Thatcher once stated “A man who by the age of 30 is not driving to work should consider himself a failure.” No wonder there’s so many problems when the countries leaders were so mislead by the car & oil industries.


  8. Elisa Brady

    Very thoughtful blog. Seeing other drivers jump red lights, speeding, not indicating, driving too close, cutting in erratically etc appears the normal. I have rarely seen traffic police stop anyone. The only police cars around or racing through flashing the blue lights. I have heard police say it’s all too much of a big problem, they can’t stop everybody, so they can’t do anything. So this blog has restored my faith. Thanks for caring.


  9. adventcontrols

    Great blog post. There is really no justification in selling cars that are capable of speeding any more. A tiny electronics company like mine could connect the speed limiter on your modern car to it’s GPS system and stop it speeding. Large car manufacturers would have no problem. This just needs to be made the law. Ford have a production car with an ISA system. It works. It should be mandatory.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Kevin

    Many great points. I probably cycle more miles in a year than I drive and by far the worst drivers on the road is those of commercial vans – ‘white van man’ although not always white of course.

    One comment on Linbeth’s post concerning cyclists is that 80% of cyclists also hold a driving licence, Perhaps the sort of cyclist who disobeys the rules of the road do the same once they are behind a wheel. Thing is their are far more drivers and they have the ability to hurt or kill people. I am not condoning the bad manners of some cyclists though, I know I ride with the view that if I have a collision with a vehicle there is only going to be one loser.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Pingback: Driving…an extinction event

  12. Doug Clements

    Great piece of thinking , as a driver,pedestrian and Cyclist I recognise the logic of this. We are in a change over period, for a long while driving has lost its original pleasure or fun. Once upon a time this was the Sunshine we all craved . Now driving has become a simple means to an end, a hum drum choire, a function. Now even this phase is starting to end , with growing congestion, increasing car running costs , with cities trying to create more pedestrian friendly public realms the Driving experience is becoming frustrating. This is leading to more road rage and negative behaviours. The adverts still show us open roads and happy faces. The reality of driving in a city like Brum is nothing like this. This is why many drivers are distracted by more interesting things like reading texts or chatting on the phone. This is why more people are just not untested in driving properly . We no longer place value on the experince of driving any more.


  13. Janice Bamber

    Brilliant blog and so true, you see the drivers who have no respect for the law or others on the road all the time, on the phone, driving only in the third lane of the motorway at well over 100, bullying other drivers who are merely overtaking out of the way because they are driving fast and they’ve got a faster car than you or just because they can, then there’s the drivers on the motorway that are young, mainly girls I’ve found in their first car, don’t know how to drive on the motorway so they stay in the second or third lane and put their foot down, oh and then answer their phone because they’re a good driver, they’ve passed their test! Well no you’re not, it takes years to be a good driver, years of abiding by the law, having respect for other road users, identifying when a driver is one of those mentioned above and staying out of their way! I’ve been driving for 30 years and I’m still learning and I still make errors of judgement. People don’t care anymore they just wanted to get wherever they’re going as fast as they can and if they leave a problem in their wake so what, they’ll be alright. I would like to see more police on the roads especially the motorways and more robust sentences! I know the police do what they can but the government need to invest more in the police and look at the laws, there are too many people dying or bein seriously injured from lack of attention, risky manoeuvres or people just failing to abide by the law.


  14. Richard D

    I believe that our best hope for a return to sanity will be heralded by the arrival of safe autonomous vehicles, eliminating the human element. Add in the idea that these vehicles are booked “by the journey” rather than sitting idly on people’s driveways and in car parks for 90% of the time and the motor car just might make sense once again. But right now, every time I head out on my bike, or walk across the road, I’m very nervous of what one of these “safe drivers” might do to me.


  15. philtonks

    Best read I’ve had in a long time. The only wish I have is that you have the resource to carry out a far more effective operation on the huge army of motorists who behave diabolically every day on our roads.


  16. Anthony Paish

    As an 85-year old who has cycled most of my life and still cycle regularly in London, while driving occasionally, I found this blog really interesting. Both driving and cycling were much more pleasurable up until around the 1980s, after which there were too many motor vehicles around, both driving (and often speeding) and parked. Moreover, there are far fewer police around these days, and those that are generally have little time for enforcing road safety, concentrating their remaining resources on tackling crime. Meanwhile, local authorities with securely squeezed budgets do little to enforce parking restrictions (eg on double yellow lines), except when they can exact fines or charges.


  17. Pingback: Something to read: Driving…an extinction event -by West Midlands Police - Cardiff By Bike

  18. Pingback: Education is wasted on the careless | The Sticky Bidon

  19. ianpsdarkcorner

    I would agree, except for two points, both regarding one of those “vulnerable groups”. As someone who rarely drives now but even before then I drove within the speed limit, used indicators and mirrors, didn’t use my phone or any of the other sins, I have had the “victims” – cyclists – behaving like complete morons both in traffic and on the pavement/in pedestrianised areas. Why? Because they won’t be caught and won’t be prosecuted. They’re unregistered, uninsured, unrepentant when they hit you as a pedestrian or driver because they’re also untraceable and they know it. If a cyclist damages your car, or cycles through a red light in front of you, there’s no point in reporting it at all, because nothing will be done. Ditto if they hit you because they’re cycling at speed in a place where they should not be cycling at all. If a car does it and you take the registration number, they can be easily traced and sometimes (not always, due to resources) will be. If nothing else, the incident will be recorded with an identifiable feature and if it is reported enough, then eventually they’ll get caught. It’s not the same with any other class of road user.

    I have no problems with enforcement of the law – I wish there were more traffic officers on the roads to deal with the selfish people using them. I have no problems with insurance black boxes, no problems with ANPR, no problems with enforcement of the law (except speed cameras, but that’s another topic). I do believe that drivers of motor vehicles are unfairly treated, because enforcement of the law is often automated in their case when it cannot be in others, so the law is more often and better enforced than with any other category of road users.

    As someone with mobility issues who is almost always either a passenger or pedestrian, motor vehicles are not what I fear most by any stretch of the imagination and it isn’t out of ignorance or lack of understanding. It’s because the vast majority of the time, motor vehicles do obey the law, in my experience. The vast majority of the time, cyclists do not.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Pingback: “simply riding a bike” | Jules P. Richards

  21. Ian Canham

    As someone who has been involved in driver training and education between 1981 to 2015 and a person who has devised and created driver training courses aimed at educating learner drivers what disturbs me most about this article is the suggestion that a punitive approach is the answer to educating drivers and improving road safety.

    I would argue that all road users including drivers are let own by the current driver training and testing system. I would not rush out to blame instructors though as we are all forced to work within what is very much a test pass training system which the powers that be such as the DVSA (was the DSA) have done little or nothing to change during the last 35 years or so.

    If you ask a learner what they want from learning to drive they usually say they want to pass their test as if that stage marks a point when something new will occur. They don’t speak about the convenience unless you prompt them nor do they speak about the freedom as this article suggests nor the fun they will have. They simply say they want to pass their test.

    The whole system is ‘test pass’ oriented which as an instructor used to make my life very difficult. I wanted a learner driver to grow and develop in their learning, to move to a point where they had an in depth knowledge and through the experience I could offer them they would move to a position of exploration and questioning as you might expect from a person involved in any learning model.

    In most learning models there is an attached paradigm, a theory about the process of learning which involves a cognitive process and a behavioural process. This is particularly apparent when learning anything skill oriented. But in driving there is simply a practical behavioural learning part with very little cognitive process going on.

    Yes I know the theory test should be the answer to this but have you seen it. Its a disgrace in my opinion. As a functional skills teacher (PGCE) as well as an (recently ceased to be) ADI some of the questions in the theory test beggar belief. It is almost as if they have not been written with English Grammar in mind and with multiple choice being the standardised form of delivery there could to a large extent in many of the question be an element of luck.

    There is as it happens about 40% content of specialised knowledge, a 50% content of general knowledge that a learner will have picked up as a passenger over the years and 10% or so of car/vehicle/first aid knowledge. It helps if a learner reads the highway code but if they don’t doing enough tests will bring them round to ‘upping’ their knowledge considerably about how to pass this theory test.

    The Hazard Perception component is equally poor. Great in some ways; that its a good idea, that its a safe way of getting learners to experience and identify hazards that would cause them to react in some way. But once thy have learned the trick of it as the ‘hazards’ have to be distinct and after they have practised it intrapersonally with their home disks enough they will find that they will pass it more times than they will fail it and then the £31 is worth the risk to give it a go.

    A learner then has two years to pass the practical which in my mind then separates the two theory and practical from being an integral testing approach designed to produce a better driver. It seperates them into hurdles to gt over in order to pass the test and get a full licence.

    What has to change in my opinion to produce better drivers is driving has to come out of the behavioural and move to the cognitively oriented. Out of the car and into the classroom where learning the skills of using the controls and driving in traffic on the road is a component of driver training and not the central condition. What has to happen is drivers have to develop their attitude.

    The notion of attitude is a central component to being a better driver and is defined as: a feeling or opinion about something or someone, or a way of behaving that is caused by this (Cambridge Dictionary). The development of an appropriate attitude is what is needed in the development of a good, caring, thinking and responsible drivers and must be at the core of developing a ‘good’ driver.

    When I devised my courses which I ran throughout the country when funding for such learning was available the component of ‘attitude’ was the very first chapter to be tackled. A point to note here is I could never get funding for the driver training element as FEFC funding considered driving to be a leisure activity and not an educational activity. I managed to get funding because I made the elements of learning to drive with extra added parts fit into the criteria required for learning credits and had the course accredited by an accreditation body leading to educational credits for learners: Building a portfolio, communication and ICT. I later went on to develop models that led to application of word, application of number and applied use of a computer all embedded within a driver training program. This meant I could attract funding by funding bodies such as the LSC for educational rather than so called ‘leisure’ activities.

    By getting predominantly young people to look at how all road users behave, comment and observe drivers, cyclists, motorcyclists, police, other professionals, behaved on the roads led them to have an understanding on the sorts of drivers that were ‘out there’ but also by collecting empirical data and writing about it and/or counting and communicating numbers learners were caused to reflect on their own attitudes too.

    I conducted the early stages of learning to drive using a facilitated learning experience with three students learning with one instructor. This way they learned a lot from each other, learned to be in control of the whole vehicle including their passengers, had a say in the way other people behaved in the vehicle they were driving,including the use of seatbelts, consumption of foods etc and had a chance to reflect on what they had learned by watching the next person have a go. They also learned an ’emergency first aid for road users’ element which included anger management as well as car maintenance and checks to be made before using a vehicle and setting off.

    It is all very well writing about the failings of the driver training industry though as what about the existing drivers the ones who have already passed their tests and where seemingly only this punitive approach will stand any chance of success, how do we tackle this lot.

    In my opinion what is required is a structural approach which would be linked with insurance companies. All drivers should be reverted back to the just pass status after an initial warning/countdown period and required to perform what would essentially be CPD to reduce their insurance. Rather than having a system that rewards the number of years without having a claim drivers should be required to be retested and their driving be assessed and graded. The grade will reflect their insurance payment with the highest grades being awarded the lowest insurance. To maintain knowledge all drivers should be required to update their knowledge on driving and the law on a regular basis.

    I read the word ‘attitude’ in this article seven times which to me does not report on developing a driver but more reports on punishing a poor attitude and poor driving behaviour. The trouble with the punitive approach is it comes after the behaviour and not before and we will continue to experience poor driver behaviour and its consequences until such time as driver attitude through driver training significantly improves.

    Only by pushing to improve driving standards, developing the drivers attitude will we reduce casualties on the road for all road users from other drivers, pedestrians to cyclists and all vulnerable road users until such time as we are all served by mechanisms, machines and robots.


  22. Pingback: People on bikes – again | Jules P. Richards

  23. StreetWatch

    Great to see such an informed post from a police officer (not that I didn’t expect it!). I do think that car crashes are bound to happen due to human behaviour but I don’t know if campaigns like ‘THINK!’ or even the threat of prosecution can have that much of an impact. The most important factor in making roads safer has to be road design and traffic calming. I don’t think we can expect people to drive safely, as long as we have roads that allow vehicles to travel way faster than stated speed limits. But then again congestion is already the biggest of all traffic calmers, which is probably be why Britain’s roads are relatively safe compared to other countries.
    Also an upgrade from the black box insurance you mentioned would be to combine off-the-shelf technologies like GPS and speed limiters to prevent cars from speeding on any given road. Given that speed is often a factor in car crashes, I’d love to see something like that promoted by the government if it ever came to the market.

    PS: if I may recommend a book, you might find ‘Traffic’ by Tom Vanderbilt really interesting (especially as a traffic officer).


  24. Pingback: Driving…an extinction event – RoadAware

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s