Last month was a very sad month for UK motorists with one of the worst motorway accidents in the country’s history. The multiple pile up on the M5 resulted in the death of seven.
Safer Motorways have long held the M5 is one of the UK’s most dangerous motorways and we continue to lobby for improvements and safety upgrades. whilst we understand that government spending is being cut back at every opportunity there is clearly a big difference between saving money and investing in order to save even more money.
What do I mean by this?
Well, cutting back on your Christmas shopping this year will genuinely save you money and would be considered a wise thing to do when money is short. Cutting back on the servicing of your car or your central heating boiler would however be considered fool-hardy.
And so it is with the UK road network.
Governments can save money in many ways but cutting back on road investment means you end up paying more in the long-term. That makes no sense to us. Surely a government, any government has a responsibility for long-term financial planning not short-term opportunity savings. It must plan its finances over the long term in order to give tax-payers the best possible return. It is well proven that leaving pot-holes in the road to deteriorate to an even worse state means the total cost in damaged tyres, tracking and alignment repairs plus the cost of paying damage to claimants claims will actually exceed the cost of repairing the pot-holes in the first place. This is Janet and John accounting. The sort of thing that every family in the UK does as a matter of habit. You cut back on the things that save you money not the things that will cost you money in the long-term.
The same should also be true when it comes to investment in the UK motorway and road network. Regrettably, for too long, that has not been the case
Making savings in the current tax-year may appeal to a cash-strapped government but when those savings actually turn out to cost the motorist more money as a result of accidents and delays the economics of those decisions need to be called into question.
Of course we must point out that this is not just a discussion about cost.
You would not accept that a cheap flight with a no-frills airline justifies a cut in safety standards. In fact if you thought for one moment that flying with Easy Jet or Ryan Air meant that the lives of you or your family were being put in danger you would never go within a mile of these companies. Think about that for one moment. Would you fly with a low cost airline if you knew that the low ticket price meant a cut in safety standards? Of course not. In the airline and rail industry we put rightly safety ahead of cost. If a particular plane has a technical issue it is grounded immediately, as is the whole fleet,. Human life is always the priority.
So how is it that when we get in our cars we accept that death and injury is the price we pay for lack of investment in difficult financial times?
This is the elephant in the room.
Our new Transport Minister, must rise to the challenge of making the UK’s road network as safe as our airline and rail industries. Every accident and death on our roads is ultimately his responsibility.
The buck stops right there.