Driving back from a hockey match yesterday I found myself diverted all round the houses because a major motorway had been shut, causing widespread chaos. It turned out that the incident was serious but not enough to bring an entire road network to a halt for hours.
It set me thinking. Why is it that accidents these days require roads to be shut for hours whereas in the past, and on the continent, the authorities clean up and get things going as quickly as possible, only shutting roads as a last resort.
A cursory skim through the web shows that it’s down to the Highways Agency and their slavish obsession with Health & Safety, the bane of our society. Many people may not have noticed the police no longer sort such things; that’s because the HA wombles get lookalike cars, florescent jackets and inbuilt arrogance.
The best summary of these idiots came from Jeremy Clarkson in The Times.
It’s easy to see what’s happening. The traffic officers will have been told time and again that their safety is the number one priority. And that if they are dealing with the aftermath of a bump, they should do everything in their power to ensure they are not knocked down. In some cases, this means they won’t jump into a lake to save a drowning boy. On the motorway, it means they won’t get out of their cars unless the road is shut.
Just listen to the traffic reports. Every day a major motorway is closed while some fat bloke with facial hair and a Napoleon complex picks up a lightly grazed door mirror from the central reservation.
In the past, a motorway was only ever shut because it was blocked by a truly massive pile-up. Now, though, I can’t remember the last journey I made in which I wasn’t wiggling through villages and suburbia to avoid closures. Closures that are only necessary for the safety of the traffic officers.
Here’s an idea, then. Tell the motorway Wombles to stay in bed. This way they will remain safe and we can go back to the old days of having a bump and dealing with it ourselves without bringing the nation to its knees.
And so say all of us …