17 October 2011

More eggs to suck

Stockport Council has decided that pensioners are stupid.  The Council obviously has no idea how these poor ancient beings have managed to exist for so long and have decided to give them some patronising tips on how to survive even longer.

These tips include:
  • To wear bright or fluorescent clothing to make sure that they are seen during the day, especially in dull or misty weather - but remember that fluorescent clothes won’t show up after dark
  • To wear reflective clothing which will show up in car headlights at night
  • Plan the routes that they take to include safer crossing places

The daft thing is, that the person who came up with those bright ideas was probably taught road safety as a child - by his or her parents - the very people they are now trying to teach to suck eggs.  How do these people think that the previous generation ever survived?

I take issue with this idea that everyone should wear bright clothing too.  Yes, of course it is sensible to make sure you can be seen, and I see many people who ride bicycles at night, with no lights, and wearing dark clothing.  However, to suggest that everyone should wear bright or fluorescent clothing during the day is ridiculous.  We will probably end up with a situation where everyone wears bright clothing and no-one at all stands out, because they are lost in a sea of other bright clothing. It's called masking.  Can't see the wood for the trees, as it were.

I also worry that there may come a day when the money-grabbing insurance companies, from whom it is already difficult to extract payment in the event of an accident, will turn the blame on the victim of a collision, on the grounds that they weren't wearing high visibility clothing.  After all, it wasn't the driver's fault that he didn't see the man he hit, because he wasn't wearing a reflective jacket ...

I have a friend who, like me, rides a motorcycle, and a couple of months ago, we discussed the idea of the requirement to make every biker wear a reflective jacket.  She insisted that if all bikers wore them, like she does, they would be less likely to be knocked off.  Less than a week later, she was hit from behind, whilst stopped at a roundabout, and was hurt.  She is still in pain from her injuries.  Her hi-vis jacket made not one jot of difference.  Some drivers, no matter what others are wearing, will just not see them because they don't look, because they're busy texting on their mobile phones, applying makeup, shaving, reading a map, looking for an address or just not paying attention. 

So, whilst preventive measures by vulnerable road-users or pedestrians should not be dismissed, there should be a greater emphasis on educating people and teach them the observation skills required to be a safe driver or rider.

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