50 years ago, last month, I passed my driving test (at the second attempt it must be said). Since then I have received just one speeding ticket. I was doing 37 m.p.h. on Aigburth Road 4 years ago. I thought I was in a 40 mph limit, in fact the limit was 30! I paid my fine BUT also got the signs improved.
I keep to speed limits and observe other laws about drinking and driving, I never touch drugs so that one doesn’t count, wearing my seatbelt and getting proper MOTs and insurance. I do this not because I am some sort of goody-goody or a blind follower of the law. I do it above all because I know that these laws keep both me and other road users, including pedestrians and cyclists safe.
Speed does kill. If a motorist hits a pedestrian at 20 miles per hour the pedestrian will almost certainly live. In fact, depending on how the collision took place might suffer no more than a few bruises. If the motorist hits a pedestrian at 40 miles per hour the pedestrian will either be killed or suffer terrible, life changing injuries. A few years ago, I visited a centre for people with brain disabilities many caused by traffic accidents. One person who was before his accident a rising star in the legal profession couldn’t even feed himself properly.
Just look at these figures. There were 25,945 serious injuries in road traffic collisions reported to the police in 2019. There was a total of 153,158 casualties of all severities in reported road traffic accidents in 2019. Of these 1,752 were fatal injuries. Of these ‘only’ 746 were inside a car. The rest of the fatalities were mostly caused by cars on pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.
Today I went out with the Traffic Police in my ward accompanies by Cllr Kris Brown who will be the Lib Dem candidate for Police Commissioner next year. In just one hour with a camera overlooking Queens Drive the Police recorded 18 vehicles going not just over the limit but over the 36-mph limit which triggers action. One car was travelling at 58 mph almost twice the legal limit. That driver will be summoned to Court to explain their actions. It may well be that they will lose their licence.
Even worse were the figures for last Friday. In two one-hour sessions at the same spot 90 speeders were recorded. On the same day the team worked Brodie Avenue and a further 90 speeders were caused in 2 one-hour sessions.
I spoke to the police officers. I have once seen a fatality in a collision and its not a pretty site. The officers who had 17 and 15 years’ experience in the unit were saying how they remembered every fatal incident and could guide me round Merseyside based on the fatalities they had seen.
We discussed the knock-on effect of this. They are people who have to do a job they I would not want to do. They have to knock on the door and tell people on the other side that the dad, daughter, mum, son, fiancée or friend who had the house full of life hours earlier would never come home. One death or serious injury can affect dozens of people often for life.
I go regularly to a service held in either of the two Liverpool Cathedrals where there is a service for families and friends who have seen people die in collisions. I spoke to one who was on her 20th annual pilgrimage to the service to remember her son dead at the age of 20. Every day she thought of her son. She thought of him at Christmas and birthdays in particular. She mourned the loss of grandchildren who would never invade her house looking for treats!
This morning a woman came along and screamed at the officers because if she got any more points, she was likely to lose her licence. I had little sympathy. No one has to speed. For a first offence everyone can take a speed awareness course for £80 instead of getting a fine and three points. After that It’s automatic points. Go way over the speed limit its almost certainly a court case. To get 12 points you must either have been stooped a number of times or you must have been committing a smaller number of serious offences.
Some people who read this might blame me instead of the Police. I have certainly reported to them several offending ‘hot spots’ and discussed with them the best approach. If you really want to blame me or the Police perhaps you should start by looking in the mirror. No-one asked you to speed. The speeding laws are there for a reason and that reason is to save lives, collisions and ruined lives. If you still want to blame me then blame on. I know that the actions that I have instigated with the support of the Police will save the lives of my residents.
My thanks go to the staff of the Merseyside Police Traffic Unit who are doing their jobs in keeping streets safe and who don’t often get thanked. I’m delighted that in the near future there will be even more of them using the best technology to keep our streets safe.
Drive legally and you’ll never have a fine or perhaps, like me, you’ll get a ticket every 50 years because at one time you should have been more aware of your surroundings.
Drive at the right speed in the right way and in the right conditions and you can be a good citizen. Drive too fast at the wrong time and you could be a killer.