I looked for a picture I could use to open this blog entry. To grab your attention. To draw you into reading it. I found the perfect one. It is a picture of a young person who must be about 13 or 14. They are sitting up straight, with neatly brushed hair, clean and ironed clothes and a cheeky smile on their lips. It looks like a professionally taken photo. Maybe a family portrait or a school photo. I won't use it though.
You see, I was looking for an attention grabbing car smash type picture. I wanted a picture that would encourage us to think about how shocking and wasteful road traffic collisions are. But I came across this picture which had been shared by this young person's family, a family that will never see them again. But I simply can't bring myself to use such a beautiful picture, or any of the others of mangled car wreckage. I will just have to make do with writing about what I want to share with you today.
What I want to share is this. I want to publicly say thank you to a team of police officers and police staff whose work has saved more lives in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly than any other team I know. They go out there and to do their job every day despite facing criticism, ridicule and anger.
And this team doesn't face ridicule and anger from traumatised victims or drunken idiots. Police everywhere are used to and expect to take abuse like that once in a while. These heroes face it every day and rise above it. The abuse comes from that strangely inclusive group to which many of us belong; motorists.
Thank you to the Devon and Cornwall Safety Camera Partnership. Life savers, every one.
Here I have to also admit that the first thoughts to pass through my mind when I see a fixed speed camera or a white police van with a camera window are usually ill considered and not very charitable. It worried me that I thought like that, especially as I know a couple of people who work in the safety camera partnership and they are really good people. So I asked one of them if they would help me write a short entry in support of what they do. And this is some of what I have learnt.
Driving too fast kills more people on our roads than anything else we do in cars, lorries, vans, buses or on motorcycles.
The fixed cameras and the mobile cameras are where they are for a reason; usually because more than one terrible thing has happened. We also see how fast people are driving and count up the terrible things that happen after the cameras are there. We drive slower and less people die. Those in the know call it "cluster route analysis".
Often the people that live somewhere ask for the safety cameras and like them being there.
Police don't just pick a site and away we go setting up cameras willy-nilly. We talk to lots of other people and decide together where they should go; people like Cornwall Council, Schools, Parish and Town Councils and the Highways Authority.
There are, I am told by a source who has proved reliable in the past, more miles of road in Cornwall than there are in Belgium. I'm not about to get out a measuring wheel to prove the point one way or the other, but I hope it's true.
So that's it apart from to say I hereby pledge not to borrow a few miles per hours from the speed limit just because I am running late or because I can, or consider the speed limit as a target speed in all road conditions. It would be great if you did too.
PS, I hope you enjoyed the read and please be kind to each other, and honest in what you do.
PPS, It kicked me right in the emotionals when I saw the picture of that young person. My thoughts and prayers are with their family.