Tuesday 21 September 2010

Paradise Lost By The Dashboard Light?

The BBC, reporting on road safety initiatives this morning, nearly caused an accident themselves when announcing a 'headline' thus:

"19 to 24 year olds could be banned from driving at night"
Initially taking this as meaning that government were actually planning such a law, I did that open-mouthed 'look-incredulously-at-the-radio-in-case-it-was-a-hallucination' thing, followed by the rather loud rhetorical question "you fucking what?"

First thoughts immediately jumped back to Clegg's speech yesterday afternoon where he spoke of "the job of government is not to run people's lives. It is to help people to run their own". So it was a relief to find out that this was merely the Beeb borrowing a Daily Mail headline writer for the morning. In reality, it's merely yet another example of public-funded, precautionary principle, rent-seeking.

Newly qualified young drivers should be banned from night-time motoring and carrying passengers of a similar age, Cardiff University researchers say.

They said such "graduated driver licensing" for those aged 17-19 could save more than 200 lives and result in 1,700 fewer serious injuries each year.
The customary scary numbers are rolled out, accompanied by the ubiquitous cautionary qualifier, 'could', but as usual they are not shown in context.

The last figures I can find for total driving licence holders by age are from 2007, where DVLA state that there are just over 2 million held by those 20 and under. This includes provisional licences so let's halve that to a million, and let's be conservative and say that these drivers only venture out one evening a week. It still adds up to over 50 million car journeys per year, or 100 million if you count outward and return trips.

So the study referenced is talking about cutting out every single one of these successful journeys because 0.0004% of them go horribly wrong - about the same chance as being struck by lightning.

On the pretext that "just one life lost is too many", these joyless researchers would collectively punish every young driver in the country, by depriving them of the overwhelming sense of freedom all of us felt when we first held that full licence in our hands. Not only that, but all the youthful romantic evenings facilitated by a car, all the friendships fostered, all the networking which doesn't involve slumping in front of Facebook, even the joy of just driving to McDonalds with a friend for a milk shake and a chat.

No other solution will do, it has to be a comprehensive ban on night driving and transporting friends. All teens to be legally grounded on the orders of the risk-averse.

One has to wonder if the grey-souled, hand-wringing nannies who dreamed up such a recommendation can remember being young themselves ... or if, indeed, they ever were.


Trooper Thompson said...

This government is shaping up to be the worst ever. The last one was the worst ever to date, but all this new one has to do is keep all the shit in place from the last one, and then any additional shit will earn it the title.

Driving at night was a great help to gain experience as a driver, as there's less traffic around.

Curmudgeon said...

Very eloquently put, Sir.

It won't happen, at least not in the short term, but the point is that all this joyless shit levers the ratchet of expectations one notch further along.

Anonymous said...

The idea is insane. The govt is quite happy for 18-24 year olds to be blown to bits in some foreign hell hole while attempting to 'civilise' the locals, but when they get home for some R&R they'd have to be on a curfew after dark? Get real. It would be the biggest cause of civil disobedience since the poll tax riots. And with the approval of most adults too, at least those who could remember being young.

It would be impossible to police. What happens if you get caught in traffic, or your car breaks down, or run out of petrol, and you're unable to get home? Just have to sleep in your car on the side of the road I suppose.

People who come up with ideas like this need taking for a short walk in the woods, ending with a 9mm in the back of their head.

Bucko said...

My local paper, The Lancashire Telegraph is also campaigning for this nonesense.
I pinched a couple of paragraphs from your post to add to my comment on their site.
Hope you don't mind.

Gordon the Fence Post Tortoise said...

OK, The Lancashire Telegraph is part of the nasty, utterly pisspoor fleet of miserable local rags in the Newsquest Group.

This titles run by this fetid bunch of creepy shits are packed to the gunwales with all the stuff we rail about here...

They seem to make a virtue of trotting out PR bilge from councils, NHS PCTs, ASH, dysfunctional social housing associations and any fake charidee that sends them a press release - most could be re-named Ruralshire Police Helicopter weekly. The gushing and utterly uncritical nature of their coverage of any of the above is spooky.

Folk whinge about the BBC but these folk are truly a bunch irredeemable maggots.

I find some small sport in mocking their "reportage" to the point where the article is pulled. Quite pleased with myself - three so far this year.

Their book of editorial guidelines must be extremely weird ... Newsquest stink.

westcoast2 said...

Half my driving lessons were in the evening when it was dark. Would this idea affect evening lessons? That could remove any experience a new driver would have of driving in the dark, while with an instructor, not a good idea.

It seems once people buy into the precautionary principle then these types of 'ideas' gain traction.

This then allows some people to use the principle as a way of controlling behaviour. It effectively negates the principle of personal responsibility and undermines personal liberty.

Gordon the Fence Post Tortoise said...

Back OT... - I'm certain the grey souled nannies will revel in curfews for young drivers. Someone's is going to trawl up the GPS c/w plug in biometric ID card on this one - don't say I didn't warn you.

The question remains - why is this miserable tosh given so much prominence?

Oh dear , back to 200 local rags and 14 million readers...

Zaphod Camden said...

You'd be absolutely shafted in the north of Scotland during the winter if this ever came in, wouldn't you? It's dark sixteen hours a day up here…and there's no public transport worth a damn either.

And for what? As Mr.P says, you've got more chance of being struck by lightning.

Yet again with the fear, uncertainty and doubt which has gripped this country since at least the Sept.11 incident. No wonder I'm becoming a cynical nihilist.

Anonymous said...

If the under 24s were banned from
night driving,what would they do about it ,Twitter,? like the
smokers do with their restrictions.

Anonymous said...

Go on - better ban all non commercial driving by under 24s.
They should learn to walk.

Anonymous said...

Will this include moped riders under 24 after dark??

If so i'm fucked as there's no pizza delivery for me...

SadButMadLad said...

"If so i'm fucked as there's no pizza delivery for me..."

Unintended consequences. Always comes to bite the government in the butt (if they actually implement this stupid piece of law).

richard said...

In the Battle of Britain the average pilot's age was 22. Yesterday our youth thrashed the Hun; now we stop them driving.

Pat said...

The results, if this were implemented, would be to have 26 year old drivers with zero experience of night driving- and thus, after a few years drop, push the accident rate up.
It would indeed produce massive kickback- not only from those prevented from driving, but also from all those parents who would be called on for taxi duties.
Its just another "August" body trying to think of a reason for its continued existence.

Gawain Towler said...

Well not everybody is as nuts as thems that proposes said laws.