Road safety is something we refuse to be complacent about. So, we have, from the start, supported the introduction of the Penalty Point System (PPS). We still do. We do not think that the claims made by the front commun des transports to the effect that by losing their licence, they lose their livelihood, can be legitimately entertained. Trucks and buses are the biggest danger we face on our roads every day and turkeys do not vote for Christmas. If bus and truck drivers want to continue to make a living, they just have to respect the Highway Code.
However, it is one thing to crack the whip to encourage safe driving and reduce casualties on our roads. It is quite another to dig deep into the citizens' thread-bare pockets and make road offenders out of them. Now that most drivers have collected their Driving Licence Counterpart (DLC) and we are set for a system meant to restore some normality in the jungles that our roads are, it is perhaps opportune for the police and the relevant authorities to really think very carefully about how this new system is likely to work in reality. Before the cops start fining and adding points to our DLC, I would like to invite some reflection on whether the aims they have set out to achieve are realistic. And it takes someone who has never driven on our roads to really think that they are.
Motorists will already have noticed the number of speed cameras which have recently been installed on our roads. While there is nothing wrong with controlling speeding, the placement of these cameras looks dubious. Some have been placed in such a way that it is difficult to slow down from the previous 110 km/hour suddenly to the required 80 in such a short span of time. Besides, some 80km/ hour road signs with cameras have been placed just before 110/km speed limits, almost trying to tempt motorists to break the law!
Add to that the speed limits in certain parts of the country which are so ridiculously low that one wonders about the rationale behind them. On some stretches of the dual carriageway, if you drive at 41km/hour, you have already lost 4 points out of 15! If you go up to 66 - a perfectly safe speed - you are left with 9 points on your DLC! You are driving every day. Do the math. Now, if you have forgotten to check your lights - which you must do every single day before you leave your home - you have lost another 6 points.
At this rate, the police will be hard put to find motorists who are not technical violators. As soon as it has been applied, the PPS will make violators out of reasonable motorists driving at safe speeds and responsible citizens will find themselves facing disqualification. In every country, there is a large proportion of law-abiding citizens who behave in a reasonable way on the roads as they do in their daily activities. Reasonable regulations which reflect the behaviour of this majority meet with success. Laws that arbitrarily restrict the majority automatically lack public support, encourage wholesale violations and usually fail to bring about desirable changes. Every system works on encouraging voluntary compliance and targeting a small perverse minority. The PPS makes it difficult for responsible citizens to be law-abiding. It is unlikely to result in improved driver behaviour. As it stands today, it is a disaster waiting to happen.