There has been too much attention to deceit and not enough on road crimes that can lead to deaths, says a London politician after the Huhne-Price verdict.
Former government minister and Liberal Democrat luminary Chris Huhne and his estranged former wife, economist Vicky Pryce, were jailed for eight months today (11 March 2013) for perverting the course of justice. Ms Pryce took Mr Huhne's driving penalty points for his speeding points. Both were found to have lied and deceived over a sustained period of time.
But road safety campaigner Jenny Jones, who has represented the Green Party of England and Wales in the London Assembly since its creation in 2000, and who was also a candidate in the last Mayoral election in the capital, says that road crime has been wrongly downgraded in the public and legal estimation of the case.
Writing for the Independent online today (11 March 2013), Ms Jones declared: "The rules on our lawless roads are clear, signposted and widely ignored. Speeding kills and casualties are rising, but the police won’t enforce 20mph limits in residential areas and safety cameras are regularly vandalised as an infringement of our civil liberties. Try driving at or below the legal speed limit and see how often you are flashed, honked, tail-gated or dangerously overtaken.
"Perhaps I am giving Chris Huhne too much credit, but I suspect that he had been caught breaking other rules or laws, he would have felt obliged to take the blame straight away. I also doubt that Vicky Pryce would have been silly enough to let him pass the buck either. In our culture, speeding is one thing, corruption, fraud and bribery is another.
"In 2011, there were 3,535 hit and runs, involving an injury, in London alone. That is 68 deaths or injuries per week, where the driver of the car, lorry or van leaves the scene of the crash. It is against the law, but an ordinary mix of good and bad people, regularly do it. It is a crime so regular and widespread that apart from individual fatalities reported in local papers, it is hardly remarked upon. People apply different rules when they get behind a steering wheel and politicians do the same. Traffic police numbers have been regularly cut back, even during the good years, and road safety has now been left out altogether from the London Mayor’s draft Police and Crime Plan.
"The most ironic thing about the scandal of Chris Huhne’s points is that if he had put in a special plea to the local magistrate he might not have been disqualified at all. Such is the failure of our society to take road deaths and injuries seriously, tens of thousands of people are legally allowed to drive around with more than 12 points," she concluded.
'Make Roads Safe' (www.makeroadssafe.org/ ) is a global road safety initiative which seeks to put global road traffic injuries on the G8 and the United Nation's sustainability agendas.