Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Friday, 31 August 2012


On Monday I spent four hours attending a speed awareness course at the Holiday Inn Plymouth, my punishment for doing 36mph down the new Gdynia Way a few weeks ago. (Half the room seemed to have been caught by the average speed cameras in the same location – so please beware). Naturally, it was not how I would have chosen to spend an entire Monday morning, but it seemed better than taking the points on my driving licence.

In fact it was a very useful session. The ex-driving instructor and an ex-police officer Rob ad Tim did a good job in underling the dangers of speed but then went on to give very helpful tips about road awareness and safety.

Most of us it we pass our driving test at a young age and then spend decade after decade behind the wheel of what is effectively a lethal weapon without ever upgrading or refreshing our skills. This is particularly bizarre as the technology of our vehicles is constantly evolving. Apparently we are all under a legal obligation to keep up to date with the Highway Code, but I must confess I was blissfully unaware of that!

A staggering 7500 people were killed on British roads in 1970, a figure coming down steadily year on year. But there are still nearly 2,000 fatalities on our roads and over 20,000 seriously injured - many of them with life-changing injuries.  Improvements in vehicular and road design and technology account for some of that reduction, but safety awareness campaigns have also made major inroads, not least the successful drink and drive campaign.

95% of the time the collision is not caused by the vehicle or the road condition but by the driver. This is both bad and good news, the good news being that we can therefore choose to do something about it. I have known for many years that the key to road safety is keeping a safe distance from the car in front, but the statistics we heard on Monday about reaction times and braking times reinforced the message in a very stark way. These kinds of courses targeting people caught for speeding is a very sensible way of continuing the work of driving standards up. I hope you never get caught on camera, but if you do, take the course, it is useful.

Jan is researching whether there are other courses I could be sent on to improve behaviour.

posted by Gary @ 08:41