Letter to Marcus Jones MP re Road Violence

Dear Mr Jones,

I am writing to you as I read the horrific story of what has happened at the Wimbledon prep school today. Where children and staff should have been safe, they have become the latest victims of motor violence.

Enough is enough. This has to stop.

We have seen a considerable increase in vehicles on the roads over the years, and the recent trend is for more and more of those vehicles to be SUVs – “cars” (such as they are still classed) that are far too large, too heavy, and too powerful for use on our streets and highways. One has to wonder what the outcome in this case may have been had the vehicle been smaller, lighter, and less powerful – indeed would it have happened at all? We can only speculate, of course. But the physics is simple – more mass, more speed, and greater acceleration are all contributory negative factors when things go wrong, whether or not caused by careless or dangerous actions by the driver.

The profile of SUVs with their high front-ends is another deadly factor in their design, when compared to smaller cars – people impacted by SUVs are more likely to go under the vehicle, where an impact by a lower-profile vehicle may lead to pedestrian going over the bonnet with potentially very different outcomes.

These SUVs are designed within legal limits of course, and if I were to anticipate your reply then I suspect it might be along the lines of the market providing what people want. To that I say tough. The market has failed resulting in companies producing machines that are deadly in design, wasteful in resources, and damaging to infrastructure. Our regulations must be tightened to bring this trend of larger vehicles to a stop.

There must be tighter restrictions on the size, weight, power, acceleration profile, and top speed of cars generally available. With exceptions for emergency services, no vehicle should be able to exceed speed limits, and we need an end to the obsession over 0-60 acceleration speeds which should be capped. We need improvements to safety standards that better evaluates the harm the vehicle causes to people when involved in collisions, limiting the height of the front-end to minimise the risk of people going under the wheels.

We also need a tax regime that penalises drivers of larger, heavy, and more powerful vehicles to disincentivse their purchase and use, whilst reflecting the harm they pose to wider society on more than carbon emissions alone.

The question is then, what will you do in response to this, and other incidents of injury and death however caused by the use of motor vehicles? How will the government respond? Will it be “thoughts and prayers” and then carry on as normal, or will this spur on meaningful change?

Doing nothing is not an option.


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