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Judgement day


The enthusiasm of the police in catching motorists exceeding the speed limits on our roads should not be seen as any great improvement in road safety.

Engineers use skill, experience and factual evidence to produce a reasonable balance between risk and cost. Arbitrary speed limits do no such thing.

Whether or not the risk to anyone from vehicles travelling just above the specified limit is greater or less than movement at the limit depends on other factors which the present obsession of 'catching' the motorist entirely ignores.

Under many conditions of light, weather, road design, weight of traffic and the like, travelling at the legal speed limit may be far more dangerous than the risks imposed under totally different conditions at speeds somewhat above limits.

When the driver decides that there is, in risk terms, no direct relationship between his speed and unreasonable risk, prosecution by the police will only induce a sense of alienation. The police should always be able to show some 'reason' for imposing punishment in a particular case - not just an easy chance to increase police funds.

J D McCaughey, 4 Tarawoods, Farmhill Road, Holywood, Co Down, BT18 0HS

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