Urban streets account for the majority of pedestrian accidents and rural roads account for over half of all road fatalities and the problems are getting worse. So, what should your future Commissioner do about it? And do you love or hate these speed cameras?
So do you think that...
There is too much traffic, going to fast? Or,
Commute times are getting longer and longer? Or,
Speed cameras are fleecing motorists or protecting people and enforcing the law?
As you can see, there are a lot of different views of rural and urban road traffic.
Perhaps most significant of all is that volumes of traffic are rising fast generally but especially on rural roads due to cheaper petrol but also more homes built on the edge of cities and in rural locations.
Frustration for drivers across Cheshire - just trying to get to work or the kids to school, is only going to get worse.
So, how do we better police our urban and rural roads?
There are two ways - one could be called The Authoritarian Way; that is, new laws, lower speed limits, stricter enforcement. Just think, more speed cameras like the one above and more motorist fines too.
The other option could be called Smart Roads; that is, using data - which already partly exists in Google maps and Sat Navs, to predict traffic problems issues and danger points, and then overlay community collected data to better understand traffic pinch points so that they can be designed out of our roads system. If necessary, speed restrictions can be applied, but we want to avoid pointless restrictions that have no impact on accident risk.
The Authoritarian approach is the typical Tory response to road issues - buy more police gear and use up police resource to enforce lower speed limits. It is a top down and poorly targeted. It often brings unnecessary restrictions in return for moderate improvements in road risk reduction but might be seen as good short term politics.
The Smart Data approach is joined up - it requires collaboration with agencies - highways and councils, it requires capturing new data and interrogating existing data to find evidence which allows us to focus our scarce resources on the areas where we find the biggest impact.
Speed camera - love or hate?
So, let's return to my question - speed cameras - such as this one on Hoole Lane Chester (sometimes called Cheshire's most financially productive camera) - do you love them or hate them?
Well, if they save lives, then we love them, right?
If they are pointless in reducing road injuries and fatalities, then we loath them, true?
So, the answer is always 'how well does it work'? With data, we can begin to answer these questions, remove unnecessary restrictions but also explain to residents why restrictions are put into place or left in place.
It is time for us to use technology and data to build a better future. One that includes better rural and urban roads as well as safer roads that are policed effectively. It is time for Smart Roads.