Safety Fast

1974-1977 Ford Granada Ghia Coupe featured in The Ford in Britain Centenary File, an Eric Dymock Motoring Book available March 2011
There is not much new in the latest anti-speeding wheeze. The return of cameras by Prohibitionists was predictable. Roundheads propose one of those fatuous speed awareness courses to anybody exceeding limits by only a little, at £100. The Times parrots the airy talk of, “some 800 people a year,” being killed if speed cameras are decommissioned. “Populist objection to speed cameras cannot withstand … scientific research,” it says. It should be cautious. Climate changers and global warmists, to say nothing of millenium buggists, salmonella scaremongers, passive smoking soothsayers, panics over BSE, DDT and a dozen more hysterical “scientific researches” produce a jaundiced view of “experts”.
Campaigners follow predictable paths. A half-truth, an emotive pull, an expert advocate will set a bandwagon rolling and if the result is a Puritanical ban on rich speeding drivers so much the better. A dozen years writing for The Guardian showed me how it was done. Opinion was entrenched on speeding. I never subscribed to the newspaper’s political stance, although to its credit, once nominated as a contributor it left you alone. Your opinions were your own. Alastair Hetherington probably took the view that if I got myself into what he would regard as a hole, I should stop digging. All that was required was the house style of writing, which was the most demanding of any newspaper for which I wrote. Right-click to enlarge

If you wanted reader reaction, whimsies on speeding guaranteed it. During the first oil crisis 50mph limits were imposed to save fuel. Guardian readers of 23 December 1974 loved them.

This correspondence column of 6 January 1975 was quite restrained. Mr Burke seems perversely pleased to drive a 90mph car. A bit racy for 1974.