One death on the rail network and there is a full enquiry with massive coverage across all the media.
But seven deaths on a UK motorway? – yawn, not even worth a mention in a National newspaper. Why is that?
How the heck did we ever get to the point where we accept the fact that traveling on our public roads these days is downright dangerous? Our motorway and major road network is being run as if the only consideration was this year’s budget. British motorists continue to get a raw deal because the real cost of this lack of investment is either not being taken into consideration, or it is being ignored.
Strangely this is not the case in ANY other area of transportation.
Compare the experience of traveling by road with that of traveling by air. In the aviation industry, safety takes priority over and above everything else – and rightly so. If a Boeing 747 develops even the hint of some sort of mechanical failure there is every likelihood that the entire 747 fleet would be grounded until a full investigation could be carried out and the problem resolved. Even then, thorough testing would still be required to ensure there was an absolute 100% guarantee that the problem was fully removed. Whether it is a technical matter or a procedural fault, the aviation industry puts safety first. As a result, the aviation industry has one of the best safety records it is possible to achive and rightly boasts that you are far more at risk driving ten miles to the airport than you are traveling ten thousand miles to Australia at 39,000 feet.
Strangely, on our roads we seem to have the exact opposite philosophy. How come there is a sudden change in attitude when we step off the airplane and get into our cars?
Whenever there is a car incident, an accident or any serious road congestion, all we care about is getting the quickest fix possible so we can all be getting on our way. There is no enquiry as to why the accident happened or how it can be prevented in future. The cost of this attitude is horrendous, both financially and in terms of lost lives.
Chances are, whatever caused that accident is more than likely to pop up in another part of the country the very next day. Can you imagine our train service being run in this manner?
But it doesn’t stop there.
If we put fatalities and injuries to one side just for one moment, the true financial cost of any road accident must include all costs, not just the damage to the vehicles concerned but the cost to every driver fuming in a twelve mile tailback and the cost to the UK economy as a result of this waste. Unfortunately your wasted time as a result of accidents and poorly flowing traffic in general is considered to be irrelevant and amazingly, drivers just seem to accept this as the way things are done.
Failure to invest in the UK road structure is NOT a cost saving but a massive cost expense, one that both the road user and the tax-payer have to finance.
The reality is, much of our roads are no longer “fit for purpose” and the real cost of that lack of investment runs into billions of pounds.
We are told that constant checks are in place to ensure that are roads are safe but we know that many parts of the UK motorway and road network are no longer fit for purpose (see our other story this week).
The issue here is not one of ignorance – someone knows that lives are being lost due to our failure to maintain an adequate maintenance programme, not just on minor roads, but on the key arteries of the UK road network.
The big question is “Who knows – and who is signing off this out of date technology?”
If this was the private sector, all hell would be let loose. The public sector is just as accountable and questions need to be asked. Who is signing off large sections of our motorways network when they know that much of the infrastructure is no longer fit for purpose?
Stay tuned – we intend to find out.