Road Traffic: Do Modern Conditions Require the Creation of a Separate Organization or Organizations for the Regulation of Road Traffic, Enforcement of Traffic and Promotion of Road Safety?

AuthorGordon Gates
Published date01 September 1962
Date01 September 1962
DOI10.1177/0032258X6203500506
Subject MatterArticle
CHIEF
INSPECTOR
GORDON
GATES
Hampshire and the Isle
of
Wight Constabulary
We congratulate Chief Inspector Gates on winning the First Prize and
H.M.
Gold Medal in the Essay Competition of1961, and have pleasure
inpublishing his Essay below.
Road
Trame:
Do modern conditions require the creation of a
separate organization or organizations for the regulation of road traffic,
enforcement of traffic and promotion of road safety?
Contemporary mankind, surfeited with news and experience
of
catastrophes and perils, requires something vital to inspire and main-
tain its interest in the commonplace. The problem
of
road traffic,
although disastrous in its consequences, is no exception to this
principle, for it is insidious rather than sensational in that human
casualties and economic losses due to accidents and congestion are
constantly recurring and so lack the collective mental impact on
the public occasioned by the sudden, wholesale tragedies which
befall rail, air and sea traffic.
Thus the problem tends to become blurred and misunderstood,
and the road user needs to be convinced that through lack of social
responsibility the human race has produced with the motor vehicle
on the roads a total problem which for sheer brutality surpasses
most of history's worst eras of lawlessness.
It
could perhaps be expected that humanity, with an instinct for
self-preservation, would rebel against the situation, but although
law-abiding by conventional standards of criminality, the average
road user by ignorance and
omission-seldom
intent-constantly
breaks the very laws which are designed to protect him against
human fallibility. The general response to appeals for road safety
is at best lukewarm and to a considerable extent vigorous enforce-
ment
of
traffic law is resented as being unnecessary and misdirected.
Complexities
At present the most active public reaction to traffic problems is
the demand for better roads, but although improvements undoubt-
edly remove some
of
the main causes of danger, accident figures con-
tinue to mount and there is little evidence to suggest that new roads
are the one sure solution.
It
seems obvious that one
of
the greatest requirements
of
road
traffic is a good relationship between those bodies charged with its
control and the general public. This has sometimes been achieved by
an imaginative approach to the problem, as was shown in 1938, when
the Home Office experimental police motor
patrols-in
effect traffic
319 September-October, /962

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