The Number One Cause of Accidents?

The Police ignore many driving offences, parking on the pavement is just one. In the recent poor weather, fog and snow, some drivers seem to be in a world of their own; but in reality they are in charge of vehicle that vehicle that can kill if not used in accordance with the Highway Code. I see drivers every day with a defective light, driving whilst using a mobile phone or driving without the correct lights when you cannot see for more than 100 metres (328 feet).

The Police and Councils like to erect speed cameras, but when they have a speed camera in place all other motoring offences get forgotten about. Speeding is their number one issue.

Yet in a Department for Transport study, their statistics show that going too fast for the conditions caused just 7% of accidents; yet failure to look properly was the top cause of accidents, at 18%. Vehicles not having the correct lighting will obviously add to that, yet the police are no where to be seen. Perhaps speed cameras have been so successful, that the police now need to concentrate on this issue? I will be asking the new West Yorkshire police commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson, what he will be doing about the number one cause of accidents.


No Room for Pedestrians

After I sent an email to the police complaining about cars being parked on the pavement, I was rather surprised at the reply “there is no specific offences of parking a vehicle with two wheels on a footpath”. The Highway Code states that you MUST NOT park partially or wholly on the pavement in London, and you should not do so elsewhere unless signs permit it. The Road Traffic Act 1988 includes legislation making it illegal to park vehicles on cycle tracks, which includes shared use pavements. There is also an offence specific to HGV drivers parking on a footpath mainly due to the weight of the vehicles causing damage. But I am sure that many local councils don’t believe that it is just heavy lorries costing them thousands, or even millions over the years, to repair paving stones.

In 2011 it was estimated that Leeds City Council spent almost £2 million every year to repair broken pavements. David Cowdrey, of Guide Dogs’ Head of Public Policy and Campaigns, said: “We were staggered to discover how much councils are having to spend each year on repairing pavements and paying compensation claims, some of which is down to inconsiderate parking. Parking on pavements also creates an obstacle for pedestrians trying to use the pavements, making it difficult for mothers with pushchairs, wheelchair users and other people to use the pavement safely. At worst, pavements obstructed with poorly parked cars can stop visually impaired people from being able to leave their homes or get to the local shops.” I am sure that the police are aware that it is illegal to drive a vehicle on the pavement, but once they have got there, it seems that the police in Leeds just do not care.


Prescription Charges In England

The cost of prescription charges in England will rise by 20p to £7.85 from 1 April, the Conservative government has announced. But although the people in England will be hit by the charge, those in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will continue to pay nothing. The new higher price being charged in England will only be paid by 10% of the people getting a prescription in England, because those that qualify are deemed poor, deserving or old. Those that qualify for free prescriptions also qualify for many other benefits.

The founder of the NHS, Aneurin Bevan, regarded the concept of charging as unethical to the notion of a service “free at the point of use” and controversy continues to surround the issue of prescription charges. The Macmillan Cancer Support charity was one of many organisations that campaigned for the abolition of prescription charges in England “so that no one is in the position where they can’t afford the treatment prescribed by their doctor or health professional.” This particular campaign was successful and as from 2009 cancer patients in England were made exempt from prescription charges. But what about other long term illnesses? What about families, that are not that rich, but do not qualify for any benefits? Back in 1948, Aneurin Bevan, credited with setting up the NHS, resigned because of the introduction of prescription charges for dental care and spectacles. Since then the welfare state has ballooned, but the core principle of free healthcare has been lost. Just one prescription item now costs £7.65 and a 12-month certificate is £104.00, and set to rise. The cost of eyeglasses and dental care can run into hundreds of pounds, but only 10% will pay any charges.

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