A speedy way into the next life

IF, like me, you regularly get your foot down on the A12 out of Suffolk, be warned. Figures just released show Essex Police hand out more speeding tickets than any other force in the country.

IF, like me, you regularly get your foot down on the A12 out of Suffolk, be warned. Figures just released show Essex Police hand out more speeding tickets than any other force in the country.

In the review period, nearly four times as many speeding fines were issued in Essex as in London.

At the same time, county-by-county accident figures show the Essex rate at 6.9 per thousand vehicles - well below the national average of 7.4.

Predictably, this brings squawks that police in Essex are being heavy-handed in a low-accident area. But could it just be that the crash figure is lower than elsewhere precisely because the traffic cops are tougher?

Mind you, although they only came out this week, the figures are those for 2002. Which shows not everyone's speed-crazy.

And with the rise in numbers and efficiency of London's speed cameras, I suspect the capital's 2003 and 2004 figures may be well up. On the other hand, the accident rate ought to be down, too.

Most Read

Of course, as the drivers' lobby and others will tell you, speed is only one factor in smashes.

According to the RAC, inattention or driver error account for 25.8 per cent of all accidents - twice the figure attributed directly to speeding.

But it doesn't take a genius to realise that the faster you go, the less time you have to correct your errors - or spot someone else's.

And it's pretty obvious, too, that if you crash at 80mph you're more likely to arrive quickly in the next world than if you're travelling more slowly in this one.

Still, the point about driver error is worth considering. Of course, everyone makes mistakes, but some people make more and worse mistakes than others.

Quite simply, the more sensible you are, the less error-prone you'll be.

The fact is, some people are just too blooming stupid to drive. And that includes some people who are quite clever in other ways.

But when did you last hear of anyone being denied a licence for being too stupid?

If licences were harder to get - and easier to lose - it might make a real difference to road safety.

And, of course, if it meant fewer vehicles on the roads, so much the better for the environment.

It's a win-win scenario. Except that we're all so addicted to our cars, no government is ever going to take the necessary steps.

SADDAM Hussein's regime was built on fear, torture and death. But can the Bush-Blair axis which toppled him claim to have lessened these evils in the world?

Among those tortured this week were a couple in Pennsylvania, USA.

I can scarcely imagine the horror experienced by Nick Berg's parents, knowing their son had been beheaded, and his murder shown on the internet.

His father, Michael, has more than my sympathy - he has my deep respect.

He has shown enormous dignity in dealing with the agony of his son's killing. And he is absolutely right to lay much of the blame on George W Bush's savage and cynical government.

Nick Berg was not in Iraq as a soldier. He was there to help rebuild the communications network left in ruins by Bush's invading army.

The trail that led to his death began with his arrest by the US-backed authorities. We may never know the full story of how he was failed by the US military into whose "care" he was released after 13 days in custody.

But it is a tragic irony that the most visible American victim of an Iraqi atrocity was there to repair damage caused by his fellow-countrymen.

WHO would have thought in September, when they languished near the foot of Division One and went out of the League Cup to Notts County, that Ipswich would end the season in the play-offs?

Who could have imagined a side that struggled to find the net even against Kidderminster would end up league top scorers?

Well done, then, to Joe Royle and the lads. But I can't help feeling the presence in the promotion shake-up of one of the poorest Town sides I can remember is a sad comment on the First Division.

Norwich have taken the title without a single player of Premiership quality, except perhaps goalkeeper Robert Green.

They will be coming straight back down. And so, I'm afraid, will whoever goes up through the play-offs.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter