Personally I like the idea of safety ratings for roads.I've just been reading about how the government is thinking of implementing a star ratings system for Britain's roads. I think this may actually be a good idea. If it gets drivers to think about risk and consider the dangers of the road we could be on to a winner.
You could argue that the experienced driver should have enough skills to deal with whatever they encounter on the road safely and smoothly. As the vast majority of people take no further training at all after the initial L test this is sadly not the case. The star ratings could be used by route planning devices which can then guide motorists around these accident hot spots. Trouble here I think is that more traffic pushed onto other roads makes those roads less safe owing to higher traffic volume. Lengthening the journey also increases risk. Driving on a road with a high risk rating may prompt the driver to pay more attention and plan further ahead should they choose not to avoid the risky route.
One thing it will achieve I think is to encourage local authorities to maintain standards of road signage and markings. Faded road markings are one of the biggest dangers in my experience. When the give way line is hardly there anymore and is totally invisible when it's raining then you can't really blame a driver for missing it. Positioning is difficult when lane markings are faded and nobody knows which lane they should be in. Signs are often hidden behind over hanging bushes in the summer and cannot be seen at all. Dangerous if it's a hazard sign for a tight bend ahead. If authorities are encouraged to solve these issues in order to receive a higher star rating then that's a good thing.
Perhaps the rating system could be used for planning routes for driving lessons and tests in the future. Teaching hazard awareness on roads with different ratings and using these differences as a teaching tool could prove interesting. If pupils leave with a greater understanding of risk after passing the test then that's a good way to improve standards in young drivers. Driving test routes could be planned to include the different star ratings and provide a chance to make sure test routes are as standardised as possible across different test centres.
All in all this could be a winning idea. It puts driving risk in the spotlight. It may make drivers consider the routes they take and more importantly, how they drive on them. Bringing risk into the public awareness may lead to improved driving standards and perhaps prompt people to take extra training to improve their skills if they use roads with a high danger rating. I daresay that the ratings will be based on accident statistics so will not paint a full picture. Ultimately it will be an alert, well taught driver with a good attitude towards risk who does the most to improve road safety.
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