15 Jun COVID19: Let’s make social driving part of the ‘new normal’
As expressions go, ‘It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good’ might be considered the height of optimism under the current circumstances.
Yet even in this pandemic, there have been shining examples.
The new “norm”
The many personal sacrifices made for the greater good, the public’s support for the NHS and respect shown to other key workers, the concern for the elderly and those most vulnerable are just some of the qualities I hope will become part of what is now imagined as the ‘new normal’.
Even those who have shown an irresponsible disregard for speed limits are the exception that proves the rule that not only is speeding dangerous and anti-social, but also how much communities have enjoyed the peace of seeing less traffic.
So, is there any reason why all road users cannot be more sociable?
Road Safety remains one of my top priorities
Changing the ‘road-ragers’ mind-set to convince them that speeding and tailgating is not acceptable has always been one of my Police and Crime Plan priorities.
Yet, from the results of a recent operation across 165 locations, in which 1344 motorists were stopped, 850 of them for breaking the limit, it is clear that speeding has become a countywide issue in recent weeks.
The added responsibility for policing the lockdown has been time-consuming and made enforcement more difficult, but the current campaign is attempting to address it.
Speeding locations brought to my attention by you
What is different this time is that police patrols are targeting local roads where, according to eyewitness accounts, speed limits are routinely ignored.
Focusing on complaints from communities, which I have received personally, were made directly to the police or through my office, helped make the campaign more effective than those based on notional research.
The public can see it as a tangible benefit of neighbourhood policing and explains why the Constabulary’s Speed Enforcement Team has been doubled in recent years.
It also relieves the more highly specialised Roads Policing Team of this kind of work, enabling it to concentrate on our motorways and main roads for which it is designed.
A good national approach
Another, though perhaps less obvious success of the lockdown has been the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s 4 E’s operational philosophy of Engage, Explain, Encourage, Enforce.
Not only has it helped our officers negotiate an unprecedented crisis in the true spirit of British Policing but has kept the vast majority of the public onside too.
You need only look across the Atlantic to see how policing without the consent of the public can turn bad.
A VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE WAS DUE TO BE PUBLISHED IN THE PRINT EDITIONS OF THE GLOUCESTER CITIZEN & GLOUESTERSHIRE ECHO NEWSPAPERS ON THE 18H JUNE 2020.