Sunday, 6 November 2011

Blame Those Evil Fireworks

Lewes bonfire sees dozens injured in firework accidents

Ambulance workers treated 170 people, with 22 being taken to hospital, as more than 60,000 people took to the streets of Lewes for bonfire night.
Alternatively, 59,830 people (or 99.7%) had a great time without any problem whatsoever.

But then, how else can Nanny Beeb build a scare except by emblazoning a headline based on 0.3% of attendees.

This isn't entirely new behaviour by our 'man bites dog' media - extreme minority football and music concert violence in the 80s were similarly treated - but it goes a long way to explain why we now have a population cowed and quivering over even the most trivial of risks. Something that vested interest alarmists play on at every opportunity. I expect we'll be hearing the annual calls for banning fireworks in the coming days.

Especially in the aftermath of this.

Police probing the M5 crash which killed seven people have said a firework display next to the road is the "major line of inquiry".

Assistant Chief Constable Anthony Bangham, of Avon and Somerset Police, said he was focusing on the event held on Friday night.

He said "a bank of smoke" was across the M5 at the time of the crash.
Because this had nothing to do with it, obviously.

"I'd slowed right down and had veered into the central reservation and I think that saved our lives - the fog lifted and I saw utter carnage.

"The thing that made me realise how bad it was, was you could hear the thud of cars hitting into lorries.

"One car overtook us going at about 60 or 70 miles an hour and just crashed straight into a lorry."
It was a tragic incident, and I'm certainly not saying that every vehicle involved was being driven irresponsibly, but - in light of the police description of the conditions - it's clear from the above that at least some were. If visibility was so atrocious, how on earth could anyone judge that 60 or 70 was a suitable speed?

It will play right into the hands of those who constantly tell us that 'speed kills', but it should be a perfect example of why the likes of Longrider - who comments regularly on the issue of vehicular speed - has been correct all along on the matter, as he was again today.

[...] the speed limit was not a factor. It doesn’t matter whether the maximum is 70mph, 80mph or 180mph; in dense fog, the appropriate speed is that in which you can stop in the distance you can see to be clear.
Indeed. It could be just as easily argued that the reason many were driving at such speeds is that the state has decided that it is uniquely qualified to dictate the safe speed on every road in the country.

'Speed Kills' is the mantra which is employed to tell us that 20mph is the uppermost 'safe' speed on certain urban roads in clear daytime conditions, despite the fact that most consider it hysterically slow. When many know full well that it's safe for a vigilant driver to be travelling faster than that, and that a 20mph limit is there to eliminate all risk. Well, it surely follows that 70mph on a motorway is perfectly safe until the state says otherwise ... even if in dense fog and with smoke billowing across the carriageway! Doesn't it?

There seems to be a lack of recognition for personal responsibility at play here, in both cases. The Lewes article tends to read as if fireworks themselves are the problem, rather than people using them irresponsibly. While the M5 crash looks like being 'blamed' on a local fireworks display, despite evidence that some were driving appallingly in the conditions.

Still, fireworks are going to get it in the neck, and RoSPA are already banging on about speed itself - and not the state's incremental confiscation of self awareness and judgement - being to blame.

Contrary to Justine Greening's opinion ...

Transport Secretary Justine Greening said on Saturday it was too early to consider what measures could be taken to prevent similar accidents.
... shit sometimes happens, and the best solution is not always more laws or restrictions.

An educated public being encouraged to look after themselves, rather than rely on being spoon-fed one-size-fits-all 'safety' instructions from the state, will always be far more effective than kneejerk sticking plaster legislation.

Not that the average political mind will ever recognise that, of course.


Curmudgeon said...

Indeed - how many times have you read "but she was driving safely - she was below the speed limit"?

And there has been a long-standing campaign to prevent the sale of fireworks to the general public, that so far hasn't succeeded. Of course, both of these incidents were related to organised displays. Perhaps we should ban those too.

Dominic A said...

Shit happens... said the same to the Mrs this morning.

If they do try and pin the M5 accident on the fireworks display I wonder if the plod, fireman and council penpusher that approved the license for the display will get it in the neck as well? I doubt it somehow.

RB said...

Absolutely. To blame the rugby club is just ridiculous. Drive to the conditions. If it is foggy or there is smoke around slow down. Its not fucking rocket science.

NS said...

Note to anyone with 10 gcse 'A' (triple gold star) and a phd in origami - 'light blue touchpaper and retire' does not mean hold a smouldering banger while you phone your boss to tell him to feck off

manwiddicombe said...

Went to Lewes with the kids for Bonfire. Had great time. Came home again. Have no idea how the police know how many people travelled on the trains because no tickets were checked.

As for bringing new laws to 'prevent' a repeat of the M5 well .... unless they're going to pass a personal responsibility directive and repeal a whole load of authoritarian controls ......

Barnacle Bill said...

I've always found the M5 between junctions 16 to 26 to be the most stressful part of my journey from Yorkshire to Cornwall.
They all seem to drive bumper to bumper, on or over the speed limit.
I don't suppose anyone will ask if the M5 had been four or five lanes there, would we have seen as much carnage?
No too easy to blame the local rugby club!

alf stone said...

Despite the tragedy of the event I had to laugh at the thought of speed limits being the answer. My local council recently introduced a 20 m.p.h. limit in my area (the same council also adopted a nuclear free zone many years ago). On the first day I noticed a bemused driver slowing down to obey the signs. The car behind immediately blasted his horn and overtook on the wrong side of the narrow road and put everyone at risk. You can't legislate against idiots!

Found A Voice said...

I watched Justine Greening's interview on Sky yesterday. To her credit, despite the interviewer blantently trying to get her to say that speed was THE factor, she refused to say anything that would endorse that view.

I was surprised how well she came across and the refreshing refusal to propose kneejerk legisation was well received. The question is, will she have the resolve to resist the calls from banstubators, which are likely to increase manifold over the next period.

Neal Asher said...

Take away people's responsibility and they become more irresponsible - this is a fact governments fail to understand (just like they fail to understand that taxing something heavily creates black markets). Of course, this crash is a bansturbator's wet dream.

Lyn said...

Brilliantly put Dick. Obviously you and many others have the same view I did when I read the report in the weekend papers about the speed issue and, as you say, those already castigating the idea of increasing motorway speeds.

I was in my truck near that section of the M5 a at the end of the school summer holidays and was almost involved in an accident that could have ended up just like this one. It was caused by an idiot in a Golf (old shape) who pulled into the outside lane causing a transit to brake; he passed me (I was overtaking a Tesco truck at the time and was about 2 thirds of the way past) he then cut in infront of me so close he almost hit me. He was travelling so fast he lost control of the vehicle, spun and drove into the rear wheels of the tractor unit on the Tesco truck. This caused the Tesco truck to jack knife, taking the Golf with it across infront of me, hitting the transit as it went. I still do not know how I avoided being hit, all I know is that when I saw the Golf cut in infront of me I started braking and put my hazards on. This sheer stupidity caused a nasty accident, but fortunately only the Tesco truck, the Golf and the transit were involved. It could have been much, much worse.

Natrually people were speculating that it was the lorry at fault; too many trucks on the road; they cause tail backs when overtaking, etc. It is because of speed limiters that prevent trucks from driving at their legal limit of 60mph that cause a lot of these problems and the number of car drivers on motorways who drive at 50mph or less, in good, clear conditions, that force trucks to overtake. Then there are the ones that once they realise a truck is overtaking them speed up, the truck pulls back in behind them and they slow down again! Lets not forget the Middle Lane Owners Club - they will sit alongside trucks and prevent them from pulling out because they won't accelerate and pass or pull out into the outside lane!

Sorry for that little rant - just had to get it out of my system!

Basically stupid laws and the obsession that governments have for total control of everything we do is what makes life today far more dangerous and risk filled than it ever was when we were encouraged to use our own common sense! Like everything else, if you don't use it, you lose it!

George Speller said...

Blame the bonfire? Yeah, right, like they crawled out from under their stones and blamed "a smoker for tossing a dog end out of his car" for that under-bridge scrap yard fire some time ago. Then they caught the inciendiary teenage culprits and they had to shut up.

Anonymous said...

Alf Stone, I know where you live. Hebden Bridge West Yorkshire. You should move to Todmorden. No trffic lights, no 20mph speed limit, just a very efficient rounabout: and shops which sell useful stuff.

Fredrik Eich said...

I was supposed to go to Lewes on bonfire night but I accidentally got drunk in Brighton instead, good job too
what with me only having a 99.7% chance not getting hurt or arrested.

Gordon the Fence Post Tortoise said...

It is a source of almost intolerable exasperation to me to travel 100 miles from London on the M4 on foggy winter days.

I'm driving really on the edge of what I can see - i.e. 45-50 mph and hundreds of suicidal berks are flying past at speeds over 70 mph WITH NO HEADLIGHTS on.

This is irresponsible and dangerous - akin to bungee jumping into a crowd with a bungee longer than the distance to the ground - and shopuld be stamped on - very, cery hard. = 500 quid minimum and impounding of car until money paid - you can get a taxi.... - no ifs, buts or anything.

Anonymous said...

My local council has been trying to introduce 20 mph urban limits. I have argued against this on the basis that it is against modern safety legislation i.e. the law does not prescribe how to do things safely but requires that people act responsibly.

There is a trend for local authorities to introduce speed limits on rural roads too, often revising them downwards over time. There must surely come a point when a driver, loosing control on a bend, could argue, with some justification, that the local authority has assumed the role of responsibility and should have provided the appropriate speed sign at that location.

Lyn said...

In our small town we have a road that has parked on both sides. Along part of it there is just room for 2 cars to pass, except most of the people around here who drive little Nissan Micra's and the like seem to think they are driving trucks and need all of the available road.

The council decided to make this road, along with the High Street a 20mph speed limit!

I along with others, argued that if that road is driven at 20mph then during busy times people waiting to pass the parked cars could be waiting 10, 15 or even 20 minutes to get passed because at that speed by the time the first car has got close to passing another car is coming, and so on. Also, on the High Street, during the times when there are lots of people about, it is not possible to drive at more than 20mph anyway, if that fast!

Needless to say they were totally deaf to any sort of reasoning!

Their main concern with the High Street was to stop trucks from coming through! Fat chance! When it is the shortest route by around 5 to 6 miles, trucks will still come through - they did before the 20mph limit even though the actual possible speed was usually slower!

There is a trading estate just outside the town. The council put in a new ring road, apparently for access to the trading estate, however,a link was needed and local businesses offered to pay for the link if the offer was taken up within 5 years. FIVE YEARS - they expected the council to act that quickly? Needless to say we still await the link! In the meantime the junction from the new ring road is a total nightmare and nowhere near safe for cars, never mind trucks! That is one of the reasons trucks still use the High Street!