The Mail has an article outlining the new penalties for careless driving, and examples of what driving behaviour is to be considered ‘careless’.
Personally as a road user who is often appalled at the idiocy of some road users I am all in favour of making people behave safely on the road but there are a few items about the contents and vagueness of the list that give pause for thought.
Firstly they are quietly sliding new crimes into the rulebook, for example the introduction of a penalty for lighting a cigarette, reading a map or eating a sandwich.
Lighting up is something any smoker can do automatically, and many do, especially if trapped in a traffic queue, so we can probably regard this as another, and very sneaky, move in the war against smokers. But hang on a moment! My car has a cigarette lighter. It’s on the driver’s side of the console and it only works when the ignition is on, so essentially it is a part of the vehicle and specifically designed to be used when the car is in use. Does that mean that the car manufacturer becomes an accomplice to the crime if the driver uses the supplied accessory?
And this reading a map thing. I have a sat-nav. It displays a map, because that’s what they are designed to do, but now it’s an offence if I attempt to read it while driving? Should I cover the screen? Or is a map not a map if it’s on a screen? Or maybe it’s OK if I look at it but don’t attempt to make out any letters. Such ridiculous inexactness in a statute is just asking for trouble.
As for sandwiches, what have they got against sandwiches? Presumably we are allowed to fight our way into a pack of kit-kat or a bar of chocolate but not a sandwich. Maybe currant buns are allowed? What about a pasty, maybe there is difference depending whether they are hot or cold?
And last but not least, being in the wrong lane at a roundabout. Near here they recently improved a local cross city route, linking a recently constructed road with two new by-pass sections and upgrading the bits in between. Actually it’s a great improvement except for one feature. It has roundabouts at every junction and every one has two lanes into it. Unfortunately there is no consistency about the approach lanes and some use the outer lane as a right turn lane while others use the right lane as ahead and have a left turn lane. No doubt the planners calculated the traffic levels and intent to decide which design to use at each junction, but sadly they don’t tell the drivers! It’s written on the road at the last minute but in traffic you can’t see it until you are already queuing for the roundabout. As a result every non-local driver finds themselves in the wrong lane a number of times. So if people are penalised can they name the local authority as accessories? It will be fun at the appeals tribunals.