What’s wrong with the UN “Decade of Action for Road Safety” – Part One

Above you see the “Decade of Action” being launched by the Prime Minister with Formula One racers Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton. This episode is quite a good indication of at least part of what is wrong with  this initiative. It is dangerous nonsense which sends out the opposite of the messages we need to present to achieve real road safety. Just in case you think this is a wildly radical sentiment, consider the following from the Chief leader writer of the Daily Telegraph: “Are these really the chaps to persuade boy racers to slow down? Whatever next? A new crackdown on violent crime, with Peter Sutcliffe and Donald Neilson in attendance?”.

As David Hughes says:”Just one niggling little problem. I can’t think of worse role models for safe drivers than these two speedsters“. Their records are:

Jenson Button: 

1.  Fined for speeding May 9th 2009 for offence 2 weeks before.

2.  Doing more than 50mph in a 30mph zone on the A120 near his fiancee’s home in Standon, Herts (Feb 24th 2007)

3.  Sunday, 28 May, 2000. Fined £500 for speeding on a French motorway driving his BMW at a speed of 144 mph.

Lewis Hamilton:

1. 2007, banned from driving in France after being clocked driving at 123mph (200kmh).

2.  In June 2009 he appeared to have repented, and in an earlier version of one of these “road safety” stunts said  there was “nothing cool” about speeding. He said: “Everyone has made mistakes including even myself, but you learn from those. “You could easily make such a mistake and lose your friends or lose your own life.”

3. Reckless driving in Australia in March 2010 – charged with improper use of a vehicle and he accepted guilt.

4.  In June 2010 the Swiss foundation for victims of road accidents RoadCross (the Swiss equivalent of RoadPeace)condemned both Hamilton and his singer girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger, who has recorded a song called “Baby can’t drive”, for their unruly driving. According to RoadCross, the Pussycat Dolls singer told British tabloid newspaper the Sun that Swiss authorities would no doubt expel the couple from Switzerland if they knew how fast they had driven in the country. RoadCross said that Lewis Hamilton had already caused an accident in March 2009, because of his “irresponsible way of driving”. The Formula One driver hadn’t respected a stop road sign and had hit the car of a woman and her child; no one was injured.

But this is far from untypical of the upside-down world of “road safety”. It isn’t just these guys. Or another leading light of the “Decade of Action”, Michael Schumacher. Or former Formula One star David Coulthard, who advocates bicycle crash helmet  (and not just his own range of helmets) wearing  – including full face models.

The whole edifice of “road safety” has a tendency to invert what real road safety – road danger reduction, or reducing danger at its source – should be about. the next post will be a major article on the organisations behind the UN “Decade of Action”