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"Communications" with Adrian Walsh of "RoadSafe" in relation to Prince Michael of Kent award for Dorset Road "Safe".

 

Dear Mr Walsh,
 
Many thanks for proving my concerns better than I ever could, that your organisation, and many of those involved in Road Safety, have no interest whatsoever in saving life and no common sense and what seems to be a biological incapability to understand facts and process them into effective life saving conclusions.
 
You have failed spectacularly to respond properly to my complaint made to HRH Prince Michael, I will get back to him and insist that he either finds someone who will respond properly, responds properly himself, or withdraws the award made to Dorset Road Safe in a period when deaths increased by 17% and they caused a death.
 
Regards, Ian Belchamber
  
 

Sent: Tuesday, January 17, 2012 5:07 PM
Subject: Re: Roadsafe website

Dear Mr Belchamber.

As I said in my last email I have noted your views and comments but as I have already made RoadSafe's position quite clear on a number of occasions I believe that to continue a dialogue via email will serve no useful purpose.

With regards

Adrian Walsh
--------------------------
Sent using BlackBerry

 
From: Ian Belchamber (gmail) [mailto:ianbelchamber@gmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, January 17, 2012 03:59 PM
Subject: Re: Roadsafe website
 
Mr Walsh,
 
You are indeed that "airline pilot hurtling down the runway ignoring the screams of the passengers telling you the wings have fallen off because you have more trust in your instruments than common sense and refuse to consider the possibility you are wrong" that I likened you to in a recent message.
 
Just try to read these few words and operate your brain.
 
Do you seriously, really, honestly consider an increase in deaths of 17% including one caused by a camera to be "valuable work"? These things are not my "personal opinions", THEY HAPPENED.
 
As you are so keen on Prof Allsop, what do you make of his statements about negative effects and cameras causing accidents that would not have happened without them? Why do you not agree with him on this?
 
You have not made your position clear. You have refused to answer many straight forward questions and observations that show beyond all doubt that there is a great deal of nonsense on the roadsafe website and the activities you support and award are dangerous.
 
You now have a choice: properly consider everything that is being put to you and reach the right conclusions or carry on standing up for something that I believe that you either know is wrong or know absolutely nothing about.
 
The purpose that is served by debating these points properly is lives saved, it does not surprise me that you consider this not useful.
 
“When an honest man discovers he is mistaken, he will either cease being mistaken or cease being honest.” – Anonymous
 
 
 
Ian Belchamber
 
 

Sent: Tuesday, January 17, 2012 2:05 PM
Subject: RE: Roadsafe website

Dear Mr Belchamber,

I am sorry that you take the view that the Prince’s award to Dorset is ‘Sick’. It was made in recognition of the valuable work carried out by the team based on the evidence provided.  We take note of your opinions but it appears that your personal views and those of RoadSafe are far from aligned.

RoadSafe fully supports the views expressed by Professor Allsop and those of the international road safety community which are summarised on our web site. Furthermore we were delighted that His Royal Highness was able to make a well deserved award to Dorset

I have made our position quite clear on a number of occasions and therefore believe that to continue a dialogue via email will serve no useful purpose.

 

Adrian Walsh

Director

http://www.roadsafe.com

+447887552708

Supporting a Decade of Action

 

 

rom: Ian Belchamber (gmail) [mailto:ianbelchamber@gmail.com]
Sent: 17 January 2012 08:27
To: Adrian Walsh; Camilla KP
Subject: Roadsafe website

 

Dear Mr Walsh,

Can you let me know if and when you or your members will be answering these points (and others that I made in my email of 12th Jan).

If Roadsafe is a credible, competent, professional organisation it will already have simple, positive answers to these points and producing them will be no trouble at all.

If it is unwilling or unable to answer them, it is not fit to be in the business of road safety or handing out awards for road safety.

Regards, Ian Belchamber

 

In a previous response you directed me to a page on the Roadsafe website about speed. I've had a look at this now, and would like to raise some points, like all the others that have been risen, that you or your "specialists" should answer. If RoadSafe can provide credible positive responses perhaps the Prince Michael award for Dorset will seem a bit less sick.

"RoadSafe believes that eliminating excessive speed will save lives."

I don't think anyone disagrees with this, the problem is to determine what is "excessive". Does it depend on the characteristics of the road / weather / other road users / hazards (for which there is no fixed safe speed as it is constantly varying), or is it determined by a number in a circle? In which case, why is 60 not excessive on a 70 limit road, even in rain sleet and snow, but when that 70 limit is reduced to 50 without any other changes, 51 is excessive even when the road is deserted on a calm sunny day? How many have been fined for driving at excessive speed within the speed limit? I see dangerous driving (often at excessive speeds) within the limit frequently.

"The challenge is for driving at inappropriate speed to be seen as anti social."

As most normal safe drivers are very likely to have been caught "speeding" at least once in recent years, for driving completely safely, it is much more socially acceptable to speed these days than is was before the revenue fueled obsession with speed started.

"To develop integrated initiatives to encourage stakeholders to introduce sensible speed policies and modern technologies to give better driver information."

Sensible speed policies - like 50 limits on roads with an 85%ile speed of 65 (even enforced and after the limit was reduced)?

Modern technologies - like bright yellow boxes and stripy vans that comfort boy racers that the authorities have been so stupid to use precious resources in such an easily avoided way?

"The faster one drives, the more likely a crash"

Nonsense. Where is the evidence for this? The more dangerously you drive, the more likely you are to crash. Obviously, if you try to take a tight bend at 100 you will crash. But even though we don't have multiple speed limit signs, 40, 30, 20, 10, 10, 20, 30, 40 etc in and out of most bends, most sensible drivers seem to be able to judge safe speed and stay on the road.

Driving too close, or inattentively, or aggressively, are obviously MUCH more likely to result in a crash than driving at any speed attentively, in full control and so that you can stop within the space visible and clear ahead of you.

"....and the higher the risk of severe injury. "

Nonsense. It is the speed at the time of impact that determines severity, not the free flowing speed before the situation started to develop. Obviously, someone driving at 30 staring at their speedo will cause more damage running into a cyclist or a pedestrian than someone driving at 60 keeping their eyes and mind on the road, anticipating the problem far ahead and braking in time to avoid it altogether. It's easy to spot an inattentive driver. We would make huge improvements in road safety if we just looked out for inattentive drivers, rather than taking as much money as we can off as many drivers as possible driving a tiny percentage over inappropriately low limits.

"Studies of road sections show that for roads of each type, the number of crashes and collisions increases with increasing average speed – the effect varies on different road types and is strongest for the slowest roads. A ball-park figure is that each 1mph reduction in average speed is accompanied by a 5% reduction in accidents."

Nonsense. 100 drivers at 50MPH have the same average speed as 99 at 49MPH and 1 at 150MPH. And there are a number of roads in this area that have been reduced from 70 to 50, that should reduce accidents by 100%, but they still happen (not noticeably any less frequently)

As far as the other TRL statistics are concerned, I'd like to see the data. You can play any game you like with statistics - probably, 15% of cars involved in accidents are blue. It doesn't mean that if we ban blue cars we will reduce accidents by 15%.

"Road safety professionals recognise that speed management is a very important tool for improving road safety."

I don't disagree. But it needs to target what is unsafe, not what makes the most money. And it needs to be in balance with management of the multitude of other problems. And it must recognise the negative effects, the dangers, and any organisation actively suppressing negative effects (such as Dorset Road Safe) must be shut down as they don't care if they kill more people than they save (assuming they do save any lives which is questionable).

"However, improving compliance with speed limits and reducing unsafe driving speeds are not easy tasks"

It would be a whole lot easier if we had sensible speed limits and effective balanced enforcement against all forms of bad driving. 

Some of the points on your website are so ridiculous they raise a question of credibility over everything on the site.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Regards, Ian Belchamber

 

(also copied to HRH Prince Michael of Kent Website)
 
Dear Mr Walsh,
 
If I was in your position I too would be unable to have a detailed discussion on these points as the moment I started thinking about them I would realise how embarrassingly wrong I was.
 
You need no "specific interest" or expertise in these areas, just a modicum of common sense.
 
If you actually read anything from myself or Eric you will see that there is no conflict with your view that " speed management is essential for safety and that there is sufficient information available to those who make decisions on how best to achieve this".
 
"Achieving" is where it goes wrong and the kind of speed management we see in Dorset (like the example I gave which resulted in a death) and many other areas has nothing whatsoever to do with safety.
 
 
I hope you will insist on a proper response from your "members with specific interest".
 
 
Regards, Ian Belchamber
 
 
 

Sent: Thursday, January 12, 2012 11:53 AM
Subject: RE: HRH Prince Michael of Kent Website.

Dear Mr Belchamber,

I regret that I am unable to have a detailed discussion on the points you raise, however I have forwarded your comments to our members who have a specific interest in the areas on which you comment.

We hold the view that speed management is essential for safety and that there is sufficient information available to those who make decisions on how best to achieve this.  Our views and policies are available here http://www.roadsafe.com/programmes/speed.aspx  should you wish to consider them.

Thank you for your passionate interest in road safety and concern.

 

With kind regards,

 

Adrian Walsh

Director

http://www.roadsafe.com

+447887552708

Supporting a Decade of Action  

 

From: Ian Belchamber (gmail) [mailto:ianbelchamber@gmail.com]
Sent: 12 January 2012 08:45
Subject: Re: HRH Prince Michael of Kent Website.

(also copied to HRH Prince Michael of Kent Website)

Dear Mr Walsh,

I remind you that this concerns road safety and most importantly what happens when it is not done properly, i.e. increase in deaths and serious injuries. It is not acceptable to ignore this or raise pathetic dismissive responses as you have done to Eric Bridgstock.

Even if what independent engineers are saying appears to you to be complete nonsense, you have a duty to check it out and respond properly. If an aircraft passenger told the captain that a wing had fallen off, would the captain ignore the passenger and carry on because his instruments told him the wing was ok? That is effectively what you and all your "experts" appear to be doing and deaths seem to be higher than they should be as a result.

I provided proper responses to your points below and you appear to be ignoring them.

Now please show some professionalism and properly answer the safety concerns that have been raised to you.

Regards, Ian Belchamber

 

 

Sent: Saturday, January 07, 2012 4:10 PM

Subject: Re: HRH Prince Michael of Kent Website.

 

(also copied to HRH Prince Michael of Kent Website)

Dear Mr Walsh,

Many thanks for your response. It is always a pleasure to receive any kind of response as this could result in progress. Such a shame that Dorset Road Safe won’t stand up for itself (why would it not if it had any belief)?

I would like to comment on some of your points:

“I was somewhat surprised at your conclusion that crash reduction can be attributed to “ rocketing fuel and insurance costs taking the glamour out of motoring, pricing out the youngest and most dangerous drivers, safer cars, recession, etc etc”.  

Are you sure???

Are you aware that insurance for young drivers can be several thousand pounds now for the smallest cars, or that fuel is now about £1.35 per litre? Do you really think this makes no difference to the numbers of young drivers starting to drive, the kinds of cars they might choose and how they drive?

Did you not notice the remarkable correlation between road deaths, vehicle traffic and GDP on one of Dorset Road Safe's charts?

 

Most articles I've seen recognise the effect of cost and recession on road ksi numbers.

And it surprises you that anyone could think that these things could result in crash reduction? 

What about the fact that those most likely to be involved in accidents (young people) will be driving the oldest (cheapest) cars, so it will only be relatively recently that the majority of these will have modern safety features like anti lock brakes, airbags, crumple zones and safety cages, better handling, tyres, etc?

You don't need to be an "expert" to understand these things, you need only common sense.

Dorset performed particularly badly (one of the worst) in the years leading up to No Excuse. Part of this was because of their obsession with making money instead of saving life (info at www.dorsetspeed.org.uk) and part of it may have been down to chance. As we know, chance works both ways, and there is nothing to suggest that reductions since no excuse are anything other than this combined with normal downward trend. In any case, no one can be impressed with their performance last year (2011), a 17% rise in deaths. The fact that DRS are prepared to focus on "dressing this up" with pages and pages of numbers, "innovations", catchphrases like "no excuse", "fatal four" in order to try to win an award demonstrates very well where their priorities are.

The 17% rise in deaths is the bottom line and Dorset Road Safe have done very badly in 2011 which is no surprise and it is absurd, sickening, and in extremely bad taste to give them an award for it, specially so when you consider that without them, at least one of those deaths would not have happened.

Do you refuse to recognise that cameras can actually cause accidents due to their vast numbers of negative effects? If so, you should take a look at evidence and examples I've listed here: http://www.dorsetspeed.org.uk/news/neg.aspx.

None of what I am saying is suggesting that dangerous speeding is not a problem - it most certainly is, along with a multitude of other problems, and you can't tackle dangerous drivers / speeders without enforcement. However, as the whole thing has become about revenue, reducing limits is being used as a way to "manufacture" offences from safe driving, for example on the A338 where a motorcyclist was killed due to panic braking for a speed camera in 2011, on a proper dual carriageway with a recently reduced limit from 70 to 50, where the 85th %ile speed is 65 and 75% of speeds are over the limit - even with regular enforcement. This would indicate to any competent person that there is probably a problem here other than speeding.

At the same time, those who want to speed dangerously can do as they please because they know where the enforcements are, or are likely to be, and look out for them. They can speed dangerously, tailgate, carry out road rage, etc etc with no chance of detection at all. Yellow boxes and stripy vans are a total waste of space in tackling the serious problem drivers who cause the most accidents.

If you believe that a 17% rise in deaths in a second year of the operation is "doing a great job" then I'm not sure your interest in Road Safety is as strong as mine.

 

Regards, Ian Belchamber

 

From: Adrian Walsh

Sent: Friday, January 06, 2012 5:11 PM

Subject: HRH Prince Michael of Kent Website.

 

Dear Mr Belchamber

His Royal Highness’s office has asked me to reply to your comments concerning The Prince’s award to Dorset Road Safe for its No Excuse campaign.

I was somewhat surprised at your conclusion that crash reduction can be attributed to “ rocketing fuel and insurance costs taking the glamour out of motoring, pricing out the youngest and most dangerous drivers, safer cars, recession, etc etc”.  This is at variance with the view of the country’s experts who would agree that there are many contributory factors but would also add ‘a significant improvement in the safety of infrastructure’. They along with the world’s experts do however consider that speeding reduction is a major contributory factor to casualty reduction.

I am sure that you will appreciate that the judges, who are selected from a group of international road safety experts look carefully at the evidence presented to them.  In this case there was little doubt that the Dorset programme was considered to be highly innovative and successful.  May I draw your attention to the pre and post evaluation reports available on the No Excuse website – these show just how effective the campaign has been.

You may be interested to note that the Fatal Four campaign which is conducted in a number of counties including Northamptonshire was also recognised by His Royal Highness.

You may also be interested to note that the Premier Award went to the RAC Foundation for its report on the effectiveness of speed cameras.

Concerning your recommendation that Dorset Road Safe should be shut down – I suggest that you address this recommendation directly to the Chief Constable.  We however believe that the organisation is doing a great job.

Thank you for your interest in road safety

Adrian Walsh

Director

http://www.roadsafe.com

+447887552708

Supporting a Decade of Action