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Strategies for reducing Road Accidents.   
[Outline]
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A Gatso speed camera

Introduction.
Education.
Engineering.
Legislation.
Enforcement.
Medical.
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Introduction.
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Much progress has been made over the years in the different aspects of road safety.  There were just as many people being killed on the roads decades ago when there was less than one tenth of the traffic on the roads as there are today... but there are no 'quantum leaps' in the pipeline... just more of the same... steady progress on a number of different fronts.  While it is vitally important than progress continues in all aspects of road safety... it is our view... that if you really want to make a significant reduction in the number of road fatalities... then you need to approach the problem in a 'Radical and Innovative' new way.  That means you have to get to grips with the tricky problem of drivers... their Attitudes... and their Behaviour.
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If you only continue in the same old ways... the results will be a forgone conclusion!
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This section takes a more in-depth look at present Strategies... their successes... and some of their limitations. 
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Education.

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Training standards... and methods do vary a great deal from one country to the next... but however good it may be... there is a limit to what can be achieved in the initial period... because as soon as a young driver is let loose on the roads an awful lot of that training will go 'straight out the window'.  [Research has shown that higher standards of training have a positive effect initially... but any benefits will have been negated within 6-12 months.] 
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Within this period... two other dominant influences will come into affect... their 'Peers'... and the general 'Road Culture'.  They will be a lot more concerned about what their Peers think of their driving than anything they've been reading in a book or taught in a class.  They also start to copy the things they see others doing out on the roads... very often the bad things.  It's not that they don't know what is expected of them... or that they have forgotten... the sight of a Police car in the rear view mirror... and instantly ever law is being obeyed to the letter.  
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For many young drivers... these first few years are a very dangerous period in their lives... where the possibility of being involved in an accident is high: [5-10 times higher than an experienced driver.]  They have an unrealistic view of their driving capabilities... a tendency to take risks... an inclination to try and impress their friends... which may lead them to try and drive faster than anyone else... and all at a time when they possess poor 'hazard awareness' skills.  This can prove to be a fatal combination! 
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Becoming experienced can only be done with years/miles of 'Practice'... but drivers also need some objective 'Feedback'.  Essentially... they need to be kept on a short leash so they never get the opportunity to develop into high-risk drivers.  
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At present... the opportunities to receive 'Unbiased Feedback' from other drivers is limited... abusive remarks and obscene hand gestures usually fail to get the message across... however well intentioned they may be!  
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After passing... their initial driving test... drivers should go into a distinctive second phase of learning: [a Probationary period] so as to increase their chances of gaining experience in safety.  If there was a problem... then the sooner it was identified and rectified the better it would be for everyone. [See 'Licences'.] 
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A whole range... of 'Educational' Strategies... could be called on to ensure drivers developed to an acceptable standard, starting with... 'Feedback' from experienced drivers... 'Inserts' about particular offences which had been reported... and a whole range of 'Courses' dealing with such things as... substance abuse: speeding: and aggression: or more driving 'Instruction' in order to 'iron out' any specific problems which had been identified.  
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Ultimately... the best way to ensure a lower accident rate is by developing a higher standard of driving right across the board... which is not an easy thing to achieve.  Even those who have been driving for many years may have picked up some bad habits that others find very annoying... and these will not be rectified by bombarding every driver with the same simplistic messages... education must be relevant to the individual: [Road Supervisors' Reports: plus educational Inserts: would help to address this problem... specific driver with a specific problem... identified!]
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Practice and Feedback.  Generally, all drivers should be encouraged to review their driving technique and their 'attitudes' towards others... there would almost certainly be some room for improvement: [this can be done by purchasing a book on the subject or attending a course for Advanced drivers.]  Take almost any other activity: like... Golf: Tennis: or Skiing: and even the top professionals undertake coaching, as well as practice, in order to achieve a high standard... but for some reason driver education seems to have disregarded this process in favour of experience alone.  For many drivers their last experience of formal 'driver education' ended on the day they passed their driving test... but 'learning' should be considered a life long endeavour... and receiving 'Feedback' from other drivers should be considered as just another way of developing and improving.   
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Possessing a driver's licence should not be viewed simply as a Right... it is also a Responsibility... and one that needs to be taken very seriously!
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Engineering.
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This covers many aspects of construction on the Roads and the Vehicles that travel along them.  On both Roads and Vehicles the built-in safety features can account for a large part of the total cost.
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Roads.  
Building a National Road Network is a very expensive and complicated task which involves building many aspects of road safety into the system, such as... Crash Barriers: Road Markings: Road Signs: Junction Layouts: Traffic Lights: Pedestrian Crossings: and Bicycle Lanes.
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An enormous amount of money is being spent just on building speed humps on thousands of residential streets to slow down those few drivers who just won't drive sensibly... [causing congestion, pollution, excessive wear and tear on vehicles, delays to emergency vehicles] it would be much better for everyone... and much cheaper... to find some other way of slowing this minority down. 
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Road Layouts: Markings: and Signage... often need fine tuning: [even after many years use] to alleviate problems that regularly occur.  While all the local drivers who regularly use a route might know there is a particular hold up: or dangerous situation: that develops every morning in the same place... the people who make the decisions about road layouts might be completely unaware that the problem even exists.  A mechanism needs to be put in place where these issues can easily be raised and discussed by ordinary people and then brought to the attention of the relevant authorities.  [See Road Supervisors' Branch Meetings.]
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The Bottom Line is... that although safe road construction is desirable... it is quite possible for people to drive safely on the poorest standards of road... and it is quite possible to drive very dangerously on the highest standard of road.  What really make the difference is how the drivers choose to behave under any given circumstance.
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Vehicles.
The construction of vehicles has changed a tremendous amount over the years.  Back in the 1960s you could see cars which just had some relatively minor damage on the outside but the inside would be covered in the blood of seriously injured people.  These days you can see pictures of vehicles which are so badly damaged that it doesn't seem possible anyone could have survived and yet people can sometimes walk away with just a few cuts and bruises.  This is due to passive safety features: such as... Seat Belts: Airbags: SIPS: and Crumple Zones.
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The one downside to this is the fact that... the safer a driver feels... the more blasé they become about having an accident: [which may explain the reputation of Volvo drivers??] too many allow themselves to become distracted by such things as... their Music: Mobile Phones: Eating: Drinking: and Talking to their Passengers... or will even drive home from work on 'automatic pilot'.  All these safety features may be very good for car drivers but they do absolutely nothing for Pedestrians: Cyclists: or Motorbike Riders... they remain extremely vulnerable to any driver's lapse of concentration.  Overall... accident rates may increase while the fatality rate remains static or even falls.
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Article.  Wrong turn: how the fight to make America's highways safer went off course  The author argues that William Haddon and others of his era overemphasized passive safety measures in vehicles, while underestimating drivers' willingness to adopt safer habits.  [More Articles]
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A concerted effort needs to be made to ensure that accidents do not happen in the first place... rather than just being able to survive them... and some aspects of vehicle construction are aimed at this: for instance... Modern Tyres: Traction Control: and Anti-lock Braking Systems: [A.B.S.] all help a driver to maintain control over a vehicle in difficult or emergency situations... but again... many of the gains are instantly cancelled out because as drivers feel they have more control they simply reduce their Margins of Error.  
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Give a driver a car that corners better and they will drive around corners quicker... if it has better brakes they will travel a bit closer to the vehicle in front.  What the driver perceives to be their own personal 'Margins of Error' remains the same... technical improvements do not necessarily translate into the equivalent safety improvements.
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All this technology is great when it is working but those drivers who do not register their vehicles properly... will often not bother with ensuring that their vehicles are roadworthy either... they will literally drive them into the ground... spending the absolute minimum on them and leave them discarded at the side of the road when they are no longer any use... leaving others to clear up the mess.
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Future Technology will continue to make a difference but the day when Technology is sophisticated enough to take away complete control from the driver and physically prevent accidents is still a thing of the future.
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Legislation.
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Changing Laws can save lives... but in our view... the major problem is drivers flouting existing laws... effective 'Enforcement' is what is really required.  When enforcing Legislation... what exactly is the 'Measure of Success'?  Each measure that is imposed and enforced has the potential to do something good or something bad for each individual... so a balance needs to be found.  [New Labour seem to be very keen on passing new Laws... and handing out Fines to the law-abiding majority... and strangely reluctant to do anything to enforce those Laws against those who wilfully break them.]
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Article.   Have the wheels fallen off traffic enforcement? — Positive influence of driver behaviour requires both "the carrot and the stick," and enforcement threat is the sharp end of the stick.  Research has shown that the chances of getting caught are much more important than the size of the penalty in shaping driver behaviour. [More Articles]  Note... This article shows how people look to the level of fines and convictions as a measure of commitment to road safety by the Authorities. 
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Six categories of Failure.  Here we lay out six different categories... as an individual you would not wish to become a 'Statistic' of any of them... because they would all have an adverse effect on your life.  So... [for the purpose of this exercise] the view we are taking is... there are no real Measures of Success... only 'Measures of Failure'.  
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* Accidents. 

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* Injuries. 
* Deaths. 
* Fines.
* Driving Bans.
* Imprisonment.
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As a driver looking to the decade ahead... can any of us say which of us will be affected by each of these six categories?  Would you be happy to trade a slightly lower chance of having an Accident for a much higher chance of losing your driver's licence [and possibly your livelihood with it?]  Whatever the Authorities may say... handing out millions of Fines to their own Citizens cannot really be considered a 'Success'... a low rate of Fines: Driving Bans: and Imprisonment: should be a goal... just as low rates of Accidents: Injuries: and Deaths are... and that means finding ways to make everyone comply with the rules we already have! 
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There is a limit to what you can achieve by simply passing more and more Laws.  Driving while using a mobile phone has been banned... this may be followed by bans on cigarettes, food, drink, changing CD's, using sat-nav... basically doing anything that could cause a distraction.  Using any of those mentioned could be very dangerous... could be perfectly safe... or anywhere in between... depending on the context in which it is done.  Many people manage to do all of these things... on a daily basis... literally, for decades... without it ever creating a danger.  When you pass Laws on all these issues... the end result is... you will hand out loads of Fines to sensible people doing perfectly reasonable things... but you won't stop stupid people from doing dangerous things.  The Authorities seem to think that the more power they have the better things will be.  Basically, they want to pass Laws on everything... then use technology to monitor, control and punish you in very efficient ways... all for your own good!
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The true 'Measure of Success' should be in creating a more 'Law abiding Society'... rather than handing out more 'Punishments' of any kind! and that means getting a grip on the serious problem of 'illegal drivers'.  This is one of the main objectives of The Road Supervisors' Network.
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Enforcement.
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This is by far the most contentious issue as far as Road Safety is concerned...
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  • If every minor infraction of the Law is rigorously enforced by the State then everyone starts to feel persecuted: [Tyranny!]
  • If they're not... then the whole 'Road Culture' may deteriorate into a dangerous free-for-all with increasing rates of Accidents: [Anarchy!]
  • What is required is a mechanism whereby a large number of ordinary citizen are given a small role to play in upholding the Law... thereby creating a more law-abiding Society: [Democracy!]
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Effective Enforcement.  Most industrialised countries have some kind of a system to check that vehicles are in a roadworthy condition.
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  • There will be absolutely endless examples of relatively new, well maintained vehicles being refused a new 'certificate' because it has some minor fault... like a cracked tail light.
  • [O.K. fair enough!] but what good is that when you have significant numbers of 'Death Traps' tearing around the roads which never come in for an Inspection... no effective brakes: virtually bald tyres: worn steering: etc. etc. etc.
  • Often these vehicles have no insurance and are registered at a false address: [which enables them to park where they like: break speed limits: etc. knowing that any fines will never catch up with them.]
  • In far too many instances those who try and stay within the law are penalised... while habitual law-breakers drive around... sometimes literally... 'getting away with murder'!
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The Police.
The Police are at the forefront of enforcement, but are relatively few in number... and by their own admission... see only a tiny fraction of what actually happens on the roads.  Their presence has what is known as a 'Halo' effect around them... as soon as drivers see their patrol vehicles they are instantly on their best behaviour... but as soon as they turn off... bad behaviour resumes.  
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Both the Police and Speed Cameras will provoke an instant reaction... [which you don't want] but no long-term improvements [which you do want.]  The intention of Road Supervisors is for them to act as the eyes and ears of their local Police Force... to share some of the burden and responsibility for safety on the roads... and to act as a deterrent for bad behaviour... extending this 'Halo' effect so that drivers are on their best behaviour whenever they find themselves Interacting with other road users: [no instant reactions... but plenty of long-term improvements.]
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Technology.  
The development of Technology opens up new possibilities for the way Societies are organised and run... including the way that a Nation's highways are 'Policed'.  The current trend seems to be for the 'State' to try and increasingly centralise control... while the ordinary Citizen slowly becomes more and more powerless... even including the Police officers out on the road who find their own powers of discretion being taken away... this is a trend that badly needs to be reversed!  
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Generally... new Technology should be used in such a way as to give the ordinary Citizen more control over their lives not less... and specifically... it should be used to harness the skills and knowledge of experienced drivers... rather than treating them all as a problem that needs to be brought under control.  [See... 'New Technologies for the Roads'.]
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Experienced Drivers.  If an experienced driver has just completed 10: 20: 30: years without causing an Accident... then it is fairly certain there will be very little in need of fundamental change... these drivers are not a problem! they are an asset! and need to be recognised as such.  
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Speed Cameras. 
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Our assessment of these devices is they should be used... but in a very limited capacity.  They serve their purpose if they are used in an area where there is a clear need to keep speed under control: for instance... near to Schools: where there is a risk to Pedestrians: or at known accident Black Spots.  If the intention is to slow vehicles down then the cameras should be clearly marked... a 'successful' camera placement should mean a reduction in Accidents... and a minimal amount of Fines being handed out.  When used in this capacity most people would support their use... but when used to extreme: [experience in other countries shows] public support will very quickly disappear... and could be replaced with open hostility towards the Authorities.  [See article... Speed Cameras: Life Savers or Cash Cows?]
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Satellite Control.  
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Trials are being carried out at present on vehicles having their speeds regulated by Satellite.  It uses the same technology as Satellite Navigation... which knows where a vehicle is to within a few feet.  An extra piece of software shows the speed limit on every single road and whenever a driver starts to exceed that limit the fuel supply to the vehicle is reduced... making it physically impossible to exceed the speed limit.
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If we supported the use of this system at all: [and at present that would appear highly unlikely] it would only be if it was fitted to the vehicle of someone that had a serious problem with the 'inappropriate use of speed'... been convicted in a Court... and this was made a condition of them driving again: [though a more simple solution might be to limit the driver to a low powered vehicle... and fit it with an electronic governor.]  On the other hand... there are some very obvious downsides to this system even before any trial has been completed.
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Article.   External controls for speeding drivers? — Research underway in Europe could lead to compulsory electronic speed limiters fitted to all cars within a decade.  [More Articles]
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Its Effectiveness.  
Like a speed camera it deals with one issue only... that is exceeding a speed limit.  There is a whole range of offences that drivers can commit while remaining under the speed limit which this has no effect on.  
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Safety.  
A system that can take control but accepts no responsibility for the consequences!  Who would really wish to find themselves in the position of overtaking a large truck... running out of space... and having their fuel cut at the vital moment?  By suddenly taking control of a vehicle away from the driver... this system is just as likely to cause an accident as prevent one.  If the system was only 'advisory', then the worst offenders would just ignore any warnings given to them and carry on as before.  Either way... not an ideal situation! 
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Cost.   
The intention of the manufacturers is that this system should be fitted to all vehicles... at a cost of... anything from £3-4,000 [U.S.$5,000] each... down to £1-200 each... depending on the system.  The problem is just a very small minority of serious offenders who needlessly put peoples' lives at risk... 'Everyone', is not the problem!  So why should 'Everyone' be burdened with these additional costs!
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Who. 
Introduce a system like this and who would go to the trouble and expense of complying with it?  Well, as usual most of the law-abiding majority... but what about the rest? the habitual law-breakers!  If it's at all possible to get out of it they will... either they won't fit the system... or after fitting it will be disconnected... or they will put something over the sensor/transmitter... or the vehicle will be registered under a false name and address.  As with many other laws... it is effective against those who are not the problem in the first place... and totally useless against those who really need to be kept under control.
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Philosophically...
we are totally against this system.  It may be using the latest Technology... but just like the speed camera... it is nothing more than an 'idiot box'.  Modern Technology should be used in such a way as to harness the skills and experience of the people who use the system... and not as a way of overriding that experience.
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'Big Brother'.  This would truly be the 'Big Brother' nightmare being put into practice... with an ever expanding network of cameras and satellites... the all powerful 'State' slowly gets an ever tighter grip on the daily lives of its Citizens.  And yet... it is widely predicted that such a system could be in use right across the E.U. within the next decade.  If you would like to see an alternative system put into the public domain [for discussion] which empowers the Individual rather than the State... then help us to devise a better Plan... look at the 'Help us' section... or make a 'Donation'.  Opinion? leave a Comment by E-mail.
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We are certainly not against the use of Global Positioning Satelite [G.P.S.] Technology... it could have huge benefits in gathering and disseminating Information about...
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* Navigation.
* Traffic Congestion.
* Road Conditions: [i.e. Speed Limits: Accident Black Spots: etc.]
* Theft Prevention... and the like.
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This is the kind of Technology that will allow problems to be dealt with in radically new ways... we do not see it as a question of whether it should be used... only of how best to use it.
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Link... Systems Trials are underway in Britain and the Netherlands.  Previously... trials were carried out in four different towns in Sweden... using four variations of a system known as ”Intelligent Speed Adaptation”... click to read Details from their own website.
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Speed Camera Detectors.
There is... not surprisingly... a fast growing market for a whole range of Speed Camera Detectors... costing anything from £200-£600, [U.S.$350-$900.] which work by picking up the signals sent out by these various speed machines... and some are also programmed to use GPS Technology... so that it knows it is approaching a permanently fixed camera position... and gives a warning to the driver.  
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In some Countries these may be illegal... as the prevailing argument has been that these are just a rich man's toy which enables them to get around legal speed restrictions: i.e. it is a device which helps people break the law.  In the U.K. the prevailing argument has been that speed cameras should be made highly visible and have warning signs on approach to try and make drivers slow down... rather than catch them breaking the law.  Therefore... these devices only help to make this strategy more effective by giving an additional warning.  It is not hard to see a certain amount of validity in both sides of this argument.
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Road Angels.
Another more sophisticated device being marketed in the U.K. is called a 'Road Angel'... which detects speed cameras but is also programmed to warn drivers when they are approaching known Accident Black Spots.  These 'Road Angels' make use of the latest GPS [Global Positioning Satelite] Technology so as to give drivers a visual and audible warning as they approach a variety of hazards... which is marketed as something which can protect your life... and your licence.
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We believe that this is the type of Technology which should be encouraged... something which supplies the driver with additional Information about road conditions... and enables them to make responsible decisions... but does not take control of the vehicle away from the driver.  This system could be aided by the Road Supervisors' scheme because 'Reporting' Black Spots would also be identified... and drivers could be alerted with more detailed Information about a far greater range of hazards.
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The legality and quality of speed detectors varies enormously... so if you're thinking of buying one we strongly recommend you do your homework first... so you know exactly what you're buying.  You should not take all the claims made in sales literature at face value... some of it is, to say the least... 'stretching the truth' a bit.  [Check out a huge range of devices at the following websites...
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Dell GB Detectors Sat-Nav. In-Car Gadgets
PC World Halfords. The Carphone Warehouse.

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Medical.
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In the industrialised world we tend to take good medical care for granted... especially in emergency situations... where professional help usually arrives on the scene very quickly.  In many developing countries help tends to arrive slowly... and sometimes not at all... emergency situations being dealt with by the local people... or anyone on the spot.  Many people will end up having limbs amputated... dying from their injuries... or the trauma... because medical assistance was not readily available.
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We in the modern industrialised world have much to thank the Medical professions for... they have made a tremendous contribution down the years... saved countless lives... and will undoubtedly continue to do so in the future.
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The Bottom Line is...
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There are many new technologies in the pipeline... most aiming to provide the State with a more efficient way of... monitoring, controlling or punishing drivers.  But the day where a vehicle can take control and drive itself still seems a very long way off.  There have been programmes where vehicles are driven fast and close controlled by computers... but this only works if you have 100% control of all the vehicles and all of the road environment.  This is absolutely miles from having a vehicle that can drive down a busy city street... can recognise everything... can understand everything... can anticipate all the possibilities of what might happen in an instant... and take appropriate action.  That's what drivers do... that is what technology is not very good at... so for the foreseeable future safety will remain the responsibility of the driver.
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