Road safety group welcomes Police driver`s acquittal
— and says it`s time to stop prosecuting civilian drivers for trivial offences.
The Association of British Drivers (ABD) today gave a qualified welcome to PC Mark Milton's acquittal on speeding and dangerous driving charges. PC Milton had been on trial for driving at up to 159mph on the M54 near Telford, and the magistrate acquitted him on the grounds that "he needed to practise his driving."
ABD Road Safety Spokesman Mark McArthur-Christie said "The UK's police drivers are some of the finest and best-trained in the country. They are capable of handling a car safely at very high speeds and under great stress. The acquittal of PC Milton sends a clear message to the authorities that driver competence is more important to road safety than speed."
PC Milton had also driven at very high speeds on local roads — including 84mph and 60mph in two separate 30mph limits.
"This is a matter of much greater concern than the speeds reached on the M54," continued McArthur-Christie. "Whilst police drivers do need to break even urban limits to do their jobs, breaking them by this margin should not be consistent with their training. The fact that PC Milton did such speeds and was still acquitted suggests that these limits are set too low."
Whatever the rights and wrongs of PC Miltons actions and the court's decision, this case highlights official hypocrisy in road safety policy. Safe drivers are losing their licences for practicing much more basic skills at far lower speeds than PC Milton, and thats not acceptable. Either PC Milton should be in gaol or the speed cameras should come down — the authorities cant have it both ways.
"Everyone needs to practice their driving skills in order to stay alert and be able to avoid accident situations," continued McArthur-Christie. "Judging what is a safe speed to travel at is one of the most fundamental driving skills. Hard-line speed enforcement for speeds just a few mph over limits — often speed limits the local authority has lowered way below what is reasonable — prevent drivers from maintaining a basic level of driving ability."
The ABD called for a review of policy to ensure speed limits are set at reasonable levels and enforced with sensible discretion by trained officers. It argues that a decade of the "kill your speed" policy has failed in making the UK's roads safer because it has undermined driving skills and hardened drivers' attitudes towards the law, the police and road safety advice.