Experiments are what moves the humanity forward, but the particular one carried out in Poland over the past weekend turned out to be a flop… Predictably.
The originator of the venture called “A weekend without causualties“* was the National Roads and Motorways Authority. The end was noble and maybe for that reason it justified peculiar means harnessed to attain it.
If you thought that drivers, cyclists, pedestrians and other roads users were encouraged to change their habits, behave more safely, avoid risky moves, act considerately, then sorry guys, you were wide of the mark. The PR agency that was responsible for preparing the campaign figured out it would not pay off to tell people to behave safely, not to speed, not to sit behind the wheel, nor cycle, after drinking alcohol. The core of the campaign was a clear message – if you’re potentially dangerous, stay at home. It’s best not to move at all. Don’t try to drive considerately, don’t drive at all! Of course there are situations such as being under the influence, when one surely should not drive any vehicle (including bikes), but sweeping the problem under the carpet is not a commendable method of coping with it. Education seems to be better that urging on abstention, doesn’t it?
And predictably the bottom line figures are pretty dire. The police has already provided us with preliminary stats and they reveal number of participants to the experiment was grossly insufficient. Over the last weekend there were:
525 accidents (excluding prangs), in which:
71 people died,
650 were injured,
and, watch out for the Polish roads’ hit, the police detained 2,794 drunk drivers.
Some of you would say pretty disgarceful state of Polish roads is to blame. Others would disagree and say despite this road users are guilty. Indeed driving around Poland is not a bed of roses, but we owe it not only to underdeveloped road infrastructure, but also to ourselves. A wise driver adjusts their speed and technique of driving to conditions on the road and failure to comply with this simple rule is the cause of many accidents. It’s not an excuse that the road was narrow, pot-holed, winding and without pavement. I’d also love to have wide three-lane dual carriageways with non-collision junctions, crash barriers, separate pavements, etc., but as we don’t have it yet, we have to drive slowly.
Speed kills, but speed also excites, makes us feel better, more self-confident, sexier, more powerful, but speed is, in my opinion not the main cause of traffic accidents in Poland. It’s not alcohol as well. It’s, if I’m not wrong, the failure to foresee other roads users’ moves. Driving is about thinking and predicting what can go wrong. If you don’t learn you should not declare you are a good driver. Maybe it’s weird, but every time I sit behind the wheel, before I start the engine, I trigger a thought that I can have an accident along the way, I don’t take it for granted I’ll reach my destination safely. This doesn’t have to help me avert mishaps, but probably if more drivers did it, number of accidents on Polish roads would be lower…
* I itinitally wanted to use the word “fatalities”, just later on it occured to me that you don’t have to die in an accident to be a victim of it…