Monday, 22 February 2010
Wednesday, 17 February 2010
Yes, the Sussex Police have been running a campaign whereby they have been stopping motorcyclists who have not been wearing fluorescent clothing, lecturing them on visibility and then handing out free fluorescent tabards or some such piece of dayglo. The police have the power to stop any motor vehicle they want to, whether it is breaking the law or not, yet I am seriously wondering if the skills of the Road Policing Unit staff could not be put to better use. Maybe they are the same ones who have been ordered to be out there at 3am issuing survival blankets and flip-flops to pissed chavettes wearing next to nothing so they don't fall over, turn an ankle and then succumb to hypothermia or unwanted sex on their way back to wherever, after a night out consuming `buy one get one free` double shots of liver poison from the club owners? This sounds like a stealthy attack on aspects of life that should be a matter of personal choice and I am very concerned about the rush of the incoming tide of State control. I am a member of the Motorcycle Action Group aka MAG and the President, the star of the below video, wrote to Sussex Police to ask where this was all leading and received what was, to me, a familiar "straight bat" politikspeak reply. The Road Policing Unit Inspector made the `party line`points I would expect. I understand the sort of managerial/`political` pressures he has to work under having been a senior officer myself. Thankfully, I walked away from all of that, avec hard earned pension and my sanity, although he still has my sympathy and respect for the job he and his officers do, when they aren't issuing dayglo vests that is. What I did fully concur with was the principle contained in the Inspector's penultimate paragrah, that being about something they call `Operation Eyesight`, where he stated they are stopping cars to advise drivers of the need to have their eyes tested. Even this, I would argue, is a further waste of their time and skills although the sentiment is sound. But even this shows the flaw in the law. Having been to the scene of a horrendous accident in London during my probationary training attachment to Traffic Division, I watched one of my colleagues measure out 25 yards and ask the driver of the Mini, that had just wiped out a pedestrian on a crossing, to read the number plate on the Police Land Rover. Legend has it that this man replied, `What Land Rover`? Thereafter, I became something of an eyesight test zealot. I discovered many years later, as a junior but very well informed supervisory officer (I was by then a law instructor) that very few operational officers knew that they had the power, under certain circumstances, to request the driver of a motor vehicle to submit to the basic eyesight test and I'll wager that is still the case, Traffic Division/RPU officers excepted. So why is the road safety nanny of the Home Office edging ever closer to legislation on dayglo bibs and hi-viz clothing for motorcyclists, when the only current requirement for a motorist/motorcyclist to have their eyes tested compulsorily is a one-off, just before they take their test? Even then it won't test other essentials like peripheral vision. Thereafter, the driving licence law merely leaves it to the licence holder to ensure they can conform to the eyesight requirements which, in turn, were probably set in the 1930's. If this was the same for airline pilots, how many of us would want to fly? Yet, statistically, its the roads that will kill us.
I remember when I first needed corrected vision. I was sat astride my police bike on the side of the road, with a colleague on his, spotting for a stolen car. I noticed he was picking up number plates a lot quicker than I was (no ANPR in those days, sonny) so as a responsible biker I turned myself in and found that my eyesight was just below the limit for police drivers/riders yet still OK for the DoT test! I was grounded until I acquired glasses, but it started to snow so I didn't care.
All the dayglo in the world won't do a bean of good (even if one assumes it does in the first place) if the Nations drivers can't see properly. So why hasn't this been legislated for instead of the pursuit of this highly dubious dayglo malarkey. Incidentally, I wear a reflective vest, but only at times and in circumstances of my own choosing. I want a level playing field, not marginalisation because I'm a biker. This is an infringement of my rights over an issue that needs addressing elsewhere. The Home Office road safety legends-in-their-own-lunchtimes must be blinded by their own over-inflated opinions of themselves not to see this. This is why I support MAG and the right to use my own judgement and discretion about what I wear when I ride a bike. I am all for law, where it's proven to be needed.