Tag Archive: speed limit

Awful BBC, Xenophobic Road Accident Reporting

Students die in India as bus plunges into river

Indian police officers look down from a bridge at the wreckage of a bus after an accident in Sawai Madhopur district, nearly 185 kilometres west of Jaipur, India, Monday, March 15, 2010. (AP / Rajasthan Patrika)

Indian police officers look down from a bridge at the wreckage of a bus after an accident in Sawai Madhopur district, nearly 185 kilometres west of Jaipur, India, Monday, March 15, 2010. (AP / Rajasthan Patrika)

The above headline is awful enough for the people involved, but in reality, it’s subject, a road crash, is common enough in my own country, the UK.

What is really bad is how the BBC is reporting this.  They should know better but essentially, they’ve reported verbatim the same “superiority complex” story being bandied about the globe in a “mass denigration” of India, (see here and here for instance), originally sourced from AP and which includes the objectionable phrase,

Road accidents claim hundreds of Indian lives every year. Most are blamed on bad driving or poor roads and vehicles.

There are two things wrong with this:

ONE:  The statistics are incorrect and they imply that somehow India is much worse than anywhere else.

TWO: The causes of accidents are reported as if they are specific to India, e.g. bad driving, vehicles, roads.  This is obviously wrong – my personal experience and the accounts of countless others tell me so….

Statistics

People are killed on the roads in far greater numbers than “hundreds” as the BBC and everyone else is saying.  Not only that, India’s figures are in the thousands, not hundreds, the same as every other country on the planet!…

You see,  ~4,000 are killed in the UK and ten times that, ~40,000 are killed in the USA!    Every year.

In the USA it’s so bad now that the main cause of death for people aged from 5 to 27 is on the road! (source)

Bad Driving? Bad Writing? Bad Editing?

So is it okay to compare bald figures?  What are they?

Of course, the statistics for India are hard to come by.  But this website for 1998 gives road deaths figures for India, North America and Europe as:

  • India:               217k
  • N. America:     49k
  • Europe:             66k

From Wikipedia, these are the (2008) figures for population of the three areas:

  • India:               1,150M
  • N. America:     528M
  • Europe:             830M

So from these figures, road traffic deaths per 100,000 persons are:

  • India:               18.8
  • N. America:     9.3
  • Europe:             8.0

So India is about twice as bad as the two major OECD areas in the world, for road deaths as a percentage of population size….  Not that we can all sit easy in our Western smugness….  there are still 10 people dying every day in the UK, on the road.

(I know the above calculations are back-of-fag-packet stuff and the data doesn’t line up correctly, date-wise.  As I said, Indian data is hard to come by. This document makes plain that the OECD median is 7.8 for 2007, which is close to my calculations, and my calculation uses figures from the same year for each geographical zone down a given metric.)

USA Paradox?

But what about the distance travelled?  Surely Americans drive more and thus crash more compared to their fellow Europeans which will lower their rates?

This document again makes plain that the above supposition is false!  When allowance is made for distance travelled, the USA fares only slightly worse than the UK for deaths per 100 million vehicle kilometres; 0.8 compared to 0.6

But this “slightly worse”, in percentage terms, is about the same as the whole variation across all OECD countries, N. America and Europe as seen above.  This means, that Americans DO drive farther, but they still crash at their same higher rate compared to Europeans.

Conclusion

Wolseley StreetWhere does this leave India?  As I said, the data is hard to come by.  But that’s not the point, is it?

The point is that the reporting of this bridge crash is being done in a mocking, superior way, and we have nothing at all to be smug about in the arena of road deaths.

NOTHING.

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Don’t Shoot the Messenger if You don’t Like the Message

Alan Johnson Sacks the Messenger

This, of course, relates to the recent sackings and supportive resignations of Government Scientific Advisors (see More advisers may go in drugs row) .

The home secretary faces the threat of more scientists resigning after sacking his chief drugs adviser Prof David Nutt for his comments about cannabis policy. Two members of the drugs advisory panel have quit in protest and others are to meet to discuss their next move.  Alan Johnson said Prof Nutt was sacked for “crossing the line” between giving advice and campaigning for a policy.

The point is that there’s a conflict between safety, facts, opinions, freedom, freedom of speech, duty, duty of care, education, class and knowledge.

Currently, a few tens of people each year die while taking ecstasy.   Most actually die from dehydration and related effects, not from the drug.

However, the drug is addictive in that it’s effects diminish with repetition and the user has to take more each time to obtain the same experience.

It can be argued that taking one drug leads to taking others, which seems a reasonable supposition.  But even so, the deaths due to drug taking, as opposed to the deaths due to crimes within the drugs supply industry are miniscule.

Far better would be to fully legalise all drugs but to have life imprisonment for illegal supply.  In this way, there’s be nothing to stop ‘curious’ people making their own drugs…

An even better, and logical proposition, would be to focus on preventable deaths as they stand in the real, accountable figures.  Start by checking the official government death statistics…  Oh!  And here they are (it’s a big PDF file)

http://www.statistics.gov.uk/downloads/theme_health/Dh2_32/DH2_No32_2005.pdf

In this right-riveting read are all sorts of weirdness.

For instance, the number of deaths from CYSTITIS is greater than those due to those surrounding Ecstasy intake!!  Perhaps we should be focussing our energies here?

But even more shocking, is that the deaths due to NOT WEARING A CRASH HELMET while driving a CAR are more than Ecstasy and Cystitis combined.

If HM Gov were truly concerned about the welfare of it’s citizens, they would insist on the use of crash helmets now and also make it impossible for motor vehicles to exceed ANY speed limit by the use of automatic speed limiting devices?  Maybe install equipment to prevent vehicle movement if there’s alcohol on the driver’s breath?

But that removes the freedom of a person to drive how they like? – is the obvious riposte.  And why should I have to wear a helmet inside my car?  And if I want to drive while drunk, that’s my choice!

So?  And there we are back to my first statement: “The point is that there’s a conflict between safety, facts, opinions, freedom, freedom of speech, duty, duty of care, education, class and knowledge.

And in that, the scientist is absolutely right and Johnson has chucked away all ‘fair comment’ values of a free society and ended the debate by shooting the messenger.  Meanwhile the carnage on the streets continues both by vehicle and by the gun and knife.

Either way, it’s still carnage – and deaths from Ecstasy are a pimple in comparison.

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Nice Car -such a Shame.

New Jaguar XJ

New Jaguar XJ

New Jaguar XJ

In common with most cars like this, it’s a lovely looking machine – a style marvel; sleek and vapid, mercurial.

It’s also a waste of space and a waste of effort.

It’s two tonnes of mass for a 400kg payload is pants.  An ecological disaster zone.

Money for Old Rope

New York Congestion

New York Congestion

Not only that, with the firm reputably losing £1m per day, it’s cost of >£50k to a tad under £90k means that 10-20 will need to be sold each day just to cover that loss, without any pretence at covering their own manufacturing costs.

Utah Congestion

Utah Congestion

Tata, it’s Indian owner paid $2.3bn for the company.  Now the UK and Europe are being asked to bail it out for £300m to keep the 15k workers in jobs and preserve the veneer of a static environmental world, bathed in an everlasting sea of fossil fuel.  Ravi Kant sees profits in two years…

Worldwide, Jaguar sold ~65k cars in 2008.  Most luxury makers are seeing sales drops of  at least 20% for each of the last two years.  Many barely made money even in the good times!! This figure covers some fuzz though.  Because these 65k cars cost from ~£20k to ~£80k, a simple like-for-like calculation cannot be made.  The intention is to drop some models next year in favour of the more expensive car.  So 65k cars again?

I don’t think so.  Call it 50k cars.

Melbourne, Australia congestion

Melbourne, Australia congestion

The irony isn’t just in the financial gloss applied to make it appear that Shangri-La is returning very soon;  a bizarre hope exists of a ‘business as usual’ scenario, when we can repeat the whole cycle again.

The irony is in the design of the vehicle, it’s presentation to the public, and the public’s perception of the machine as a desirable status symbol, swooping over life’s problems like fuel shortages, the congestion of our urban sprawls and speed limits.

The Jaguar website provides full technical specifications for the vehicle, which show it to have good acceleration and economy.  They fail to point out that the standard laws of physics mean these aren’t at the same time…

Jaguar cub

Bored young Jaguar

The slow-motion pictures at the beginning of the launch video aren’t slow at all.  This is real-time speed in a traffic queue, the place where the vehicle will spend most of it’s travelling life.

And whenever the Jaguar owner feels like opening it up to it’s 155mph limited maximum, hopefully they’ll be reassured that it’s lightweight, rivetted aluminium structure is stronger than that of the similarly shiny, magnesium and aluminium Mercedes which was in this crash below, at only 125mph.

The point is that rapid transport itself is a luxury.  Although we in the West have become accustomed to ever cheaper travel of all types, this has been at the expense of the future.  Like the credit crunch, we are “leveraging” today’s resources against tomorrows expectations of a miracle.  The pot of black gold isn’t bottomless, but the continuing production of anachronisms like this beautiful car, seeks only to deceive us that it is.

The only miracle will be if people see the truth that they’ve been living in a dream world for the past century.   In the 35,000 years of human existence, these last hundred are but a plip in a pond.

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How to Commit Murder, Legally

Introduction

Simple.

@Amazon

  • Live in County Durham, UK
  • Don’t pass the driving test
  • Drive a car, unsupervised, with your partner and her 6-year old child as passengers!
  • Find a cyclist while driving around
  • Make sure the cyclist is not wearing a helmet
  • Knock over the cyclist with your illegally driven and thus un-insured car
  • Make sure the cyclist dies

That’s how!

Quoting from The Journal, Live, here’s what happened:

@AmazonA MOTORIST who had driven for eight years without ever passing a test escaped jail after killing a cyclist.

Denis Moore, 50, regularly drove his partner’s Hyundai Matrix mobility car despite only holding a provisional licence.   Durham Crown Court was told yesterday how he was behind the wheel when he collided with cyclist James Jorgensen at 6pm on September 24 last year.

Mr Jorgensen, 55, of East Shore Village, Seaham, County Durham, was riding round a roundabout near his home when Moore’s car hit him.   He was flung to the ground and died eight days later of severe head injuries.

But Moore, 50, of Byron Terrace, Houghton-le-Spring, near Sunderland, escaped jail after the court was told Mr Jorgensen had not been wearing a safety helmet.

That’s murder in my book.  The man Moore plainly has no consideration for the lives of others and the laws that we have to protect us.

The twat judge is no better and should be strung up or struck off.  Like our forgetful MPs and their expenses, the judge has shown a complete disregard for the law, both literally and in it’s spirit.  The judge’s tiny supposition that “helmets are safe” has completely outweighed the cascade of offences that Moore committed by actually driving on the public highway.  If Jorgenson had lived, what hope would there have been for him to get any damages from Moore?  None!  Because by driving on the road, Moore’s insurance was invalidated and any compensation would have had to be derived from Moore’s limited means.  His partner Bell was the same by allowing the offences.

In fact, it could be argued that Jorgenson, the cyclist, may have cycled differently and avoided a collision if he’d spotted some L-Plates on Moore’s car – but of course, Moore didn’t have any.

What a pair of complete and utter bastards, Moore and the Judge.

The completely un-reasoned argument the judge used could be applied to all ‘accidents’ (I hate that term – they should be called crashes, because that’s what they are, and almost all are completely avoidable).

By the same criteria;

  • Anyone knocked over on the footpath could have been saved by wearing a helmet or a suit of armour.
  • Anyone shot by a gunman could have escaped death by wearing a bullet-proof vest.
  • Anyone killed in a airplane crash should have had a parachute.

It’s the same, stupid, un-reasoned logic that shifts the onus of responsibility onto the injured person.

@AmazonBy The Way, Moore had to pay a £15 ‘victim surcharge’.  That’s the price of a life.

L-Plates are £2.99 from Amazon…

Latest News

I saw this tragic news (Pregnant woman dies in kerb crash) after writing the above today.  Both the woman and her foetus died when hit by a BMW while walking on the footpath.  It’ll be interesting to see if the stupid logic of the previous case is used when justice is finally served…  Should she have been wearing a suit of armour last night?  Can you see the rubbish logic at work now?

See local news link: Pregnant Carlisle woman dies after car mounts pavement

References

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Murderous, Stupid, Boy

ZackThis is the full text of an ‘article‘ posted on the Michigan State University (MSU) news section by ‘the State News opinion writer’ apparently.  Zack (for it is he) has his own particular version of personal rights and responsibilities, somewhat at odds with US law.  His article worked though – he has had a shed load of comment…

Black 2001 Saturn SC2. That’s the car I drive – and if you’re a bicyclist on the road but not in a bike path and you see my car, I hope you’re wearing a helmet, because I might run you over.

Maybe not intentionally.

But you see, with all these things I can do in my car nowadays, such as choose a different song on my iPod, send a text message while driving or fall asleep at the wheel because I had to wake up for a worthless 8 a.m. biology lab, I might not notice you.

And, considering you are where you should not be, I might hit you.

The simple fact of the matter is, MSU has so kindly provided sidewalks for people on foot and Rollerblades, and MSU’s ordinance should be revised to require bicyclists be there too. The university has outlined bike paths on certain roads, but bicyclists can’t just create imaginary bike paths like they do.

I cannot drive my car on the sidewalk, so why must you ride your bicycle where I drive?

Many of my friends ride bicycles on campus, so I’m not trying to berate a whole demographic of students. I appreciate bicyclists who advocate environmentalism, since they are making up for the damage I do with my car.

I respect bicyclists who use bicycles as a form of exercise, since people certainly can never get enough fitness in their everyday routines.

But for as much as I respect and appreciate bicyclists, I will not hesitate to honk at them when they are interfering with the roads.

My concern is not merely about inconvenience.

Bicyclists on the road are a driving hazard to people in automobiles, since many bicyclists make turns without using hand signals and ride too close to other vehicles when there is no designated bike path.

For example, I was driving to work Tuesday when a bicyclist pulled up in front of my car in the right lane on Farm Lane going northbound where it intersects with Shaw Lane. There is no bike path at this portion of the road, and I needed to be in the right lane to avoid the left turn only lane, but the bicyclist was in the way.

Instead, I had to speed ahead and veer away from the fast-approaching rear end of the car in front of me, just barely making it into the right lane.

Some will say I could be more patient on the road.

But roads are for cars, not bicyclists. The bicyclist should not have been in the car lane.

It’s possible some bicyclists are trying to live out their dreams of being Lance Armstrong, and the smooth terrain offered by the roads where big, people-killing cars are designed to travel on are more desirable than the sidewalk pavement.

I get it, bicyclists – you’re in the Tour de France. Well, in your head at least.

But in reality, my gas-guzzling, carbon footprint-leaving car is trying to get around you, the bicyclist. And you, the bicyclist, prefer to coast, not along the side of the lane but in the exact middle.

Maybe in your head you are actually driving a car. Maybe that’s why you believe you should be behind a pickup truck and in front of 15 other cars trying to pass you.

And maybe you are Armstrong, so talented and in shape and able to pedal so, so fast. But Armstrong’s average speed in the 2001 Tour de France was 24.9 mph, which is 0.1 mph less than most of the speed limits on and around campus.

Plus, I’ve had difficulty finding students who actually obey the speed limit anyway.

It’s common for motorists to drive at least 5 mph above the speed limit, which makes your task to out-pedal Lance Armstrong all the more daunting. And considering you’re not actually Armstrong (even if you do wear a skintight yellow bicycle uniform), you likely are not going 24.9 mph.

And, oh yeah, Armstrong is competing when he is bicycling – your leisurely ride through campus might not even register on a police radar.

But, hey, snap out of it. You’re not Lance Armstrong.

And those are the headlights of my black 2001 Saturn SC2 bearing down on you.

Zack Colman is the State News opinion writer. Reach him at [email protected].

Published on Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Zack’s piece is a prime example of why there are no such things as ‘accidents’. All crashes and killings are someone’s fault – maybe it’s inattention, but it’s everyone’s duty to be attentive. If you can’t do it, get off the road.

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