could speeding fix the economy?
lets give the hard shoulder the cold shoulder
The only thing more boring than being in traffic is reading about traffic. But bear with me because, dear road users, I have an innovative suggestion. Some of our roads are slower than they were during the days of horse and cart. It’s time to rise up.
Let’s stop being so English about traffic. Stop treating the M25 like a queue at the post office, and begin to see it as majestic race-track, its twists and turns through the Hertfordshire country not merely a means to get somewhere, but an opportunity for well-fuelled fun. Let’s face it – if you’re on your way to a dreary weekend with the in-laws, there has to be an element of fun somewhere.
I propose we eradicate the hard shoulder on every motorway; redesignating it is as the slow lane and make the outside lane a super-fast lane. Used at one's own risk and with minimum speed limits. Permits would be granted – with a fee – to drivers able to demonstrate supreme ability in a vehicle capable of going fast. Very fast.
The arguments for this policy are so compelling it’s madness that the Government haven’t already done it. First, the economics. The Annual fee for use of the extra lane would be in the thousands; raising much needed revenue for our starved treasury. If you’re rich enough to own a Ferrari, you’re in a good position to fork out 10 grand for a speed-permit. Our politicians are always suggesting that the rich should pay more tax – this solution does just that; but it’s a tax the wealthy would want to pay. Suddenly, we can have Bugatti funded Benefits. Add the fact that rich foreigners will jump at it, and more super cars will be sold and taxed and post-Brexit Britain looks pretty tasty.
Then there’s the question of productivity. Traffic jams cost the UK economy £8 billion a year. That’s enough to fund 363,000 nurses. If we give those who want to drive fast their own lane there is less traffic in the normal lanes. And let's face it those using new lane are more productive than Joe Blogs in his Vectra, so you solve two problems. The most productive in society spend less time moving about; whilst the us-normals have fewer cars to contend with. National productivity rises; tax revenue increases. The result? A stronger NHS.
Also there is less frustrated unsafe over-taking. Indeed – and I say this to commenters – driving slowly causes hundreds of accidents a year.
But what about accidents?
Now, accidents do happen. Yes - under this policy there will be fewer accidents and they won’t be as severe. Oh, and we've funded 300,000 extra nurses for the NHS, all of whom will be experts in whiplash.
However I’m not worried about those in the new super-fast lane. There is evidence from Germany that speed limits do not materially reduce casualties. Either way, those in the new lane do so at their own risk and invariably have BUPA.
But wait, Isn't the hard shoulder for people who have broken down?
No. The Hard shoulder is hardly ever used by people who’ve broken down. It is a pit-stop for the hungry; a lavatory for the desperate, and a lane for parents to readjust car seats. Cars crash sometimes, but the hard shoulder is of little use when you spin yourself over the central reservation and into an HGV. We have MOT’s to prevent people from breaking down.
The Government already knows the hard shoulder is redundant. They’re upgrading our motorways to become ‘smart’; where – at times of peak traffic (and therefore accidents) the hard shoulder can be used by ordinary motorists.
The emergency services would, of course, be entitled to use this extra lane; ensuring they can get about in times of need.
It’s clear that the Hard Shoulder is not needed, and that giving the super-fast their own lane makes sense. There are miles of stunning tarmac that could be reclaimed, saving our economy, rebuilding our NHS and making Britain safer in the process.