Peugeot: Just Add Colloquialisms

And here is the Advertising Standards Authority’s response to the complaint I raised….

Mr J Davis
X XXXXXXX
Worthing
West Sussex

Dear Mr Davis

YOUR COMPLAINT ABOUT PEUGEOT MOTOR COMPANY

Thank you for contacting the ASA with your complaint regarding a TV ad for Peugeot Motor Company. I am sorry to hear this has caused you concern. I understand you were concerned that the ad’s reference to “Road Tax” was misleading and should have been referred to “Vehicle Excise Duty”. The ASA can intervene if an ad that has been broadcast appears to be likely to be in breach of the UK Code of Broadcast Advertsing by, among other things, being likely to cause serious or widespread offense, risking causing significant harm or being materially misleading. In this case we do not consider there has been such a breach and will not be taking any action.

While it is true that the correct term is “Vehicle Excise Duty”, colloquialisms such as “Road Tax” are often used by advertisers to articulate a message in a way that will be understood by the widest audience. We do not consider that the use in the ad would have misled viewers or promoted a view that only motorists pay for road building and maintenance, and will therefore not investigate the matter further.

I realise that this may disappoint you, but thank you nonetheless for taking the time to contact us with your concerns. The ASA website, www.asa.org.uk, contains more information about the work we do, including the results of investigations into complaints.

Yours sincerely

Xxxxxxxx

Complaints Executive

 In fairness, it was jolly nice of them to write. I completely disagree. I know I’m not alone either.

This from Carlton Reid’s IPayRoadTax website.

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The Highway Code (Road users requiring extra care) – The Lo Fidelity Bicycle Club Version

Please find below the latest Lo Fidelity Bicycle Club Highway Code update which I hope you approve of.

204 The most vulnerable road users are pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and horse riders. It is particularly important to be aware of children, older and disabled people, and learner and inexperienced drivers and riders, as they WILL hold you up. Always remind them that they need to pay ‘Road Tax’, despite there being no such thing since 1937 and motorists don’t pay for the roads.

Pedestrians

205 There is a risk of pedestrians, especially children, stepping unexpectedly into the road. You should drive with the safety of children in mind at a speed suitable for the conditions. That means NOT driving everywhere like Tiger Woods after a tipple.

206 Drive carefully and slowly UNLESS you are in a hurry when

  • in crowded shopping streets, Home Zones and Quiet Lanes (see Rule 218) or residential areas or anywhere where other people just as important as you are trying to conduct their lives
  • driving past bus and tram stops UNLESS there is a puddle
  • passing parked vehicles, especially ice cream vans; children are more interested in ice cream than traffic and may run into the road unexpectedly which won’t help as you are more interested in ice cream than traffic.
  • needing to cross a pavement or cycle track; for example, to reach or leave a driveway. Give way to pedestrians and cyclists on the pavement if you can spot them at the speed you’re doing.
  • reversing into a side road; look all around the vehicle and give way to any pedestrians who may be crossing the road ONLY when you hear a yell or the sound of sudden braking or feel a thump on the roof. ONLY then put your mobile phone down.
  • turning at road junctions; give way to pedestrians who are already crossing the road into which you are turning ONLY if they’ve nearly made it to the other kerb. Otherwise they are fair game.
  • the pavement is closed due to street repairs and pedestrians are directed to use the road. However, there will be 20,000 cones out to show exactly where your lane is so you could speed up a bit.
  • approaching pedestrians on narrow rural roads without a footway or footpath. Always look surprised as though they are trespassing on your private road. Apply the brakes from 60mph and blame them and the road (signage/surfacing/sight lines etc) for being at fault.
  • when approaching a speed camera (that is still switched on). They are there ONLY to extract money from the poor beleaguered motorist.
 
 
 
 
 

Rule 206 - It's just a big obstacle course

207 Particularly vulnerable pedestrians. These include

  • children and older pedestrians who may not be able to judge your speed and could step into the road in front of you. At your usual speed (50mph+) your vehicle will probably kill any pedestrians it hits. At 20 mph there is only a 1 in 20 chance of the pedestrian being killed. But of course, it will NOT happen to you because your driving is perfect in every way.
  • older pedestrians who may need more time to cross the road. Be patient and allow them to cross in their own time. Do not hurry them by revving your engine or edging forward as they are probably a bit blind and deaf as well so you’re wasting your precious energy. Some may have been in a World War to fight for your freedom and liberty to drive like a privileged twat.
  • people with disabilities. People with hearing impairments may not be aware of your vehicle approaching. Those with walking difficulties require more time so drive up to them quickly and brake suddenly to emphasise who is in the greater hurry.
  • blind or partially sighted people, who may be carrying a white cane or using a guide dog. They may not be able to see you approaching. You can recreate this effect by tuning in your car radio or looking at the road atlas on the passenger seat.

208 Near schools. Drive slowly and be particularly aware of young cyclists and pedestrians UNLESS your children need to get to school. In some places, there may be a flashing amber signal below the ‘School’ warning sign which you may notice informing you that other people’s less important children may be crossing the road ahead. Act with incredulity that other people have also chosen to drive their children. Position your vehicle as close to the school as you can in the manner of a car thief fleeing a scene.

209 Drive at your normal carefree speed when passing a stationary bus and notice the ‘School Bus’ sign at the last second as children may be getting on or off.

210 You MUST stop when a school crossing patrol shows a ‘Stop for children’ sign but ONLY after you increased your speed to try and beat them (see ‘Signals by authorised persons that will diminish with Coalition Government cuts’ and ‘Signs giving orders to be Ignored’)  [Law RTRA sect 28]

Motorcyclists and cyclists

211 It is often difficult to see motorcyclists and cyclists whilst tuning the radio or picking your nose, especially when they are coming up from behind, coming out of junctions, at roundabouts, overtaking you or filtering through traffic as they have a lot more freedom than you’ll ever know. Always look out for them before you emerge from a junction; they could be approaching faster than you think (INCLUDING Brompton riders). When turning right across a line of slow-moving or stationary traffic, look surprised at cyclists or motorcyclists on the inside of the traffic you are crossing or hide behind the hand you have raised  to indicate ‘thanks, but I’m pulling out anyway’ (see hand signals). Be especially careful when turning, and when changing direction or lane (driving in other words). Be sure to check mirrors and blind spots carefully before getting distracted by the radio again.

212 When passing cyclists, give them plenty of room UNLESS they are wearing a helmet. If they look over their shoulder it could mean that they intend to pull out, turn right or that they simply don’t trust modern driving standards. Give them time and space to do so which in your expert terms means two seconds and 50cm.

213 Motorcyclists and cyclists may suddenly need to avoid uneven road surfaces and obstacles such as drain covers or oily, wet or icy patches on the road which the cycle lane runs through. Give them plenty of room and pay particular attention to any sudden change of direction they may have to make by sounding your horn, winding down your window and informing them that they should NOT be on the road (also see Rule 204).

Other road users

214 Animals. When passing animals, drive slowly. Give them plenty of room and be ready to stop. Do not scare animals by sounding your horn, revving your engine or accelerating rapidly once you have passed them IF you think anyone is watching. Keep your speed at bends and on narrow country roads as Mother Nature is clearly throwing you a challenge which you will accept as you’ve just wasted thousands that you can’t really afford on a Subaru Impreza to prop up your miserable life. If a road is blocked by a herd of animals, drive slowly at them like a large metallic goat herd until they have left the road whilst listening to your partner warble on about how nice it must be to live in the countryside. Watch out for animals on unfenced roads although the locals drive through National Parks as though they have just robbed a bank at gunpoint. If a badger is lying at the side of the road with its legs in the air it’s because a motorist has killed it. It is NOT trying to look cute.

215 Horse riders and horse-drawn vehicles. Be particularly careful of horse riders and horse-drawn vehicles especially when overtaking. Always pass wide and slowly. Horse riders are often children, and their parents will be Barristers or Magistrates, so take extra care. Take great care and treat all horses as a potential hazard, particularly when connected to a Romany carriage; both horse/driver can be unpredictable, especially with alcohol.  

216 Older drivers. Their reactions may be slower than other drivers and they MAY be wearing hats. Make allowance for them by informing your occupants or The Jeremy Vine Show that there should be compulsory re-testing at retirement age.

217 Learners and inexperienced drivers. They may not be so skilful at anticipating and responding to events. This will diminish further after they’ve passed their test. Be particularly patient with learner drivers and young drivers as they haven’t realised how much of a hurry you always need to be in the ‘Rat Race’. Drivers who have recently passed their test may display a ‘new driver’ plate or sticker, especially if it’s their parent’s car, as they don’t want their insurance premium to rival the cost of China’s Space programme.

218 Home Zones and Quiet Lanes. These are places where people used to use the whole of the road for a range of activities such as children playing or for a community event such as the end of World War II or the Wedding of Charles & Di. You should drive slowly and carefully UNLESS it’s a handy cut through, in which case be prepared to swear and make a gesturing motion with your hands (see Hand Signals). Sound your horn to alert residents who may trying to load a child seat or unload shopping of your presence and that you desperately need to get through. Try playing loud music to amplify the sense of urgency.

Other vehicles

219 Emergency and Incident Support vehicles. You should look and listen for ambulances, fire engines, police, doctors or other emergency vehicles using flashing blue, red or green lights and sirens or flashing headlights, or Incident Support vehicles using flashing amber lights. When one approaches do NOT panic, as they probably didn’t spot you suddenly dropping your speed or  your mobile below windscreen level. Consider the route of such a vehicle and take appropriate action to let it pass, while complying with all traffic signs and ignoring everyone else. If necessary, pull to the side of the road and stop, but try to avoid stopping before the brow of a hill, a bend or narrow section of road so speed up to match the emergency vehicle to get past these places. Impress other road users or pedestrians by mounting the kerb in the same way that Starsky & Hutch may have detained a pimp. Do NOT brake harshly on approach to a junction or roundabout, as a following vehicle may also be tuning their radio.

220 Powered vehicles used by disabled people. These small vehicles travel at a maximum speed of 8 mph (12 km/h). On a dual carriageway where the speed limit exceeds 50 mph (80 km/h) they MUST have a flashing amber beacon, although they are ONLY there because they are hopelessly lost and just nipped out to buy some digestive biscuits for the snooker on BBC2. On other roads you may not have that advance warning. You’ll blame the road, saying it isn’t ‘engineered’ enough. You’ll even blame the disabled person for being there in the first place. Do NOT look in a mirror as you may finally realise where the problem really is. [Law RVLR reg 17(1) & 26]

221 Large vehicles. These may need extra road space to turn or to deal with a hazard that you are not able to see. If you are following a large vehicle, such as a bus or articulated lorry, be aware that the driver may not be able to see your simmering fury in the mirrors. Be prepared to stop and wait and make loud huffing/tutting noises if it needs room or time to turn, otherwise try and overtake them at EVERY opportunity.

Rule 221 Try and be patient for the.....oh, never mind

222 Large vehicles can block your view. Your ability to see and to plan ahead will be improved if you attempt to overtake them at every opportunity. TRY and be patient, as you can when away from a steering wheel, as larger vehicles are subject to lower speed limits than cars and motorcycles. Many large vehicles may be fitted with speed limiting devices which will restrict speed to 56 mph (90 km/h) even on a motorway. If all cars were fitted with the same devices, there would NOT need to be as many rules or deaths or serious injury but society won’t discuss this for some reason.

223 Buses, coaches and trams. Give priority to these vehicles when you can do so safely. If they signal to pull away from stops, increase your speed and try to get round them. Look out for people getting off a bus or tram and crossing the road as they will clearly be poorer than you because they are NOT in a car.

224 Electric vehicles. Be careful of electric vehicles such as milk floats and trams as they will hold you up. Trams move quickly but silently and cannot steer to avoid you. If you thought they could than do NOT go anywhere near a car, or do anything involving thought.

225 Vehicles with flashing amber beacons. These warn of a slow-moving or stationary vehicle such as a Traffic Officer vehicle (non-important), salt spreader, snow plough (you’ll be bunking off work by that stage anyway) or recovery vehicle or abnormal loads or cheap wedding reception DJ, so approach with caution. On unrestricted dual carriageways, motor vehicles first used on or after 1 January 1947 with a maximum speed of 25 mph (40 km/h) or less (such as tractors or old people) MUST use a flashing amber beacon (also see Rule 220).  [Law RVLR 1989, reg 17]

Horticulture and Road Safety

According to todays Independent on Sunday, cash strapped Councils are looking to innovative planting schemes to slow motorists down be changing their perceptions.

..”Norfolk County Council planted 200 trees in four villages – Martham, Horstead, Mundesley and Overstrand – in an effort to reduce average speeds by two to three miles per hour and cut accidents by 20 per cent. There had been 20 crashes in the rural spots over a five-year period.

Mr Hallett said the initiative, which supports carbon reduction and is the first of its kind in the UK, was about changing the environment to alter motorists’ perspectives. The planting of trees and hedges is designed to reduce speed “by playing with the driver’s peripheral vision”. One technique involved placing trees – at decreasing distances apart – on the approach to a village, tricking drivers into thinking they were speeding. “If you are staying at a constant speed, your peripheral vision [which takes in the trees] is giving you the impression you are going faster,” explained Mr Hallett. “People hit the brakes before they hit the village.”

Another method was to plant trees “so that it looks like the environment is closing in on the driver”, he added. The road remains the same width but trees are planted on a “lazy diagonal” that gets narrower towards the entrance to the village….”

I worked in commercial horticulture for five years and support this type of scheme wholeheartedly. Trees and plants can assist in all sorts of unusual situations. A Crataegus Prunifolia hedgerow, for example, can be planted as an excellent deterrent against burglary. The touring cyclist traveling through France will be familiar with the beautiful avenues of Plane trees along the roadside and further planting on exposed roadsides over here could act as an unwittingly good windbreak and landscape enhancement.

As far as road safety is concerned however, I would argue that these solutions don’t go far enough. I would like to make a couple of tentative additions of my own to their inventive arboricultural arsenal;

The Yellow Petunia Speed Camera Hanging Basket

A very nice Health & Safety yellow, wouldn't you say?

This is a great opportunity for towns and villages to combine their ‘Britain in Bloom‘ budget with road safety. Just plant oblong boxes with Yellow petunias to look like the backs of speed cameras and hang them on grey poles. It combines a topical matter with gardening and could give Alan Titchmarch the inspiration to write a decent novel for a change.

The Accident Black Spot Daisy Chalk Outline

Like this. But with daisies instead of chalk.

Where there is a high casualty rate, just plant beautiful daisies as a replica chalk outline in a nearby grass verge or meadow. Add Michaelmas Daisies across the head to create a baseball cap effect where there is a higher than average amount of Citroen Saxo’s in the area.

The opportunities are endless! I would personally advocate the ‘Palm Trees Falling Across The Road If Someone Triggers The Speed Trap In A Thunderbird 2 Runway Type Scenario’ but you might as well switch the cameras back on for that kind of money.

The War on the Motorist

Consider the plight of the poor beleaguered motorist.

For years they have had to put up with ever bigger roads; dual carriageways, road widening, ring roads, inner relief roads, orbital roads & bypasses. Some motorists have interests such as gardening or archaeology yet found themselves having to drive ever increasing distances to see nice pretty landscapes and places of interest because lots of other people also liked driving and needed to be accommodated on ever bigger roads destroying more and more pretty landscapes and places of interest. How dreadful.

Some motorists occasionally enjoyed nice walks or cycle rides for short journeys to the post office or school but the bigger roads sliced through the bridleway and footpath network so they didn’t link communities anymore. So more people had to drive on the bigger roads and get in each others way. Apparently, people who might have considered a walk or a cycle ride also started driving as they considered the new bigger roads to be more hostile, adding to all that congestion. Well, really!

Many had to drive all the way out to the outskirts of towns to get their shopping (as walking around lots of shops is tiresome when you can’t park outside each and every one of them), ripping up more of that lovely countryside and archaeology beneath. No wonder Time Team only ever had three days!

All have had to endure the fact that motoring in real terms is as inexpensive as its ever been. Apparently, only they pay for the roads and should have exclusive rights to them. Many have had entire seconds added to their journey times due to the intrepid few that venture out on bicycles or on foot, the fools! How dare these peasants get in the way when motorists have spent thousands of pounds on their mode of transport?

They have had to endure speed cameras with their bright yellow paint and repeated warning signs. They have had money ruthlessly taken from them when all they did was break the law. How petty is that?! Why aren’t they catching the real criminals?

We needn’t worry though. Philip Hammond, the new Transport Secretary has recently ended this onslaught on the motorist. Thank God! He’s axed the funding to the speed cameras meaning that local authorities fall like a house of cards in the rush to switch them off despite objections from those little people that don’t know what they’re talking about like local residents, road safety groups and police chiefs. Anyone would have thought that right wing motoring groups lobbied hard and portrayed motorists as the poor victims in all this. Surely not! After all, they only kill and seriously injure a few thousand every year!

It now transpires that some motorists in Oxfordshire are speeding again now the cameras have been switched off. Gee!! What are the odds??!! It’s probably all these ‘expert’ motorists driving at speeds that they consider appropriate as opposed those nasty speed limits imposed to reduce the chance of death and serious injury. It’ll be alright though because those that walked or cycled in these spots will be put off due to the increased danger so there will be even less distraction.

If the ‘War on the Motorist’ has ended, then this must surely mean that they can now stop killing innocent civilians?Hurrah! The war is over! If a War had actually been declared on the motorist than I can only describe the state declared on pedestrians and cyclists as ‘genocide’ or ‘a holocaust’ as they impede the march of progress and are cleared off the streets. Well, if we’re going to wildly exaggerate, we might as well try and take it to a logical conclusion. Wars are things that happen in far away lands. Yet motoring has the higher death and casualty rate. Shouldn’t it be the ‘War from the Motorist’?

Happy Thoughts

Last week I gave my humble opinion on a 19 page report issued by the Drivers Alliance which was focused solely on the removal Speed Cameras but offering nothing proactive in their place in terms of road safety. From the responses I received, I can deduce the following:

  • There is a well honed response unit of people that simply attack anything a person with an opposing view says. All very nice and I’d want the same if I was running a lobby group, particularly one like the DA. However, they may wish to reflect on why they’ve probably had so much experience.
  • When they make a statement, it is factual, based on proper research and statistics. It’s written by God and proofed by Jesus. However, when someone offers an opposing response, it is ‘a rant’ or the writer is ‘resorting to personal insults’ or ‘arrogant’ or they are ‘deluded’. I’m just glad these people aren’t Ambassadors to the UN.
  • Despite being repeatedly informed, some still think I am allied to the Ramblers. I like a good walk (particularly where a decent pub is involved) but I have no allegiance to the activities’ official organisation. I don’t actually represent any group. I didn’t think I had to.
  • That they simply couldn’t comprehend that I’m also a motorist because it is easier to compartmentalise someone. In fact, most adult cyclists are motorists too.

In the end I just stopped receiving comments, which I’m loathe to do (freedom of speech and all that), but found liberating in this instance as they were getting increasingly puerile and personal. The best way to stop a fire is by cutting off the oxygen supply. These people claim to have the upper hand morally yet they still come back for more (I was still receiving little packages of spitefulness last night). My lesson learned is that when dealing with these people it doesn’t matter what you say or how you say it, they will just move the goalposts and parameters, introduce new sets of ‘statistics‘ (which funnily enough didn’t show up in the initial report) or just start pointing the finger at other people. Or you of course.

So be warned. Someone somewhere will write a blog post about speed cameras simply giving an individual perspective and then watch as the response unit steams into action like a Panzer pincer movement. Best of luck to them.

 I also note on the Drivers Alliance website a spiteful little poll asking whether cyclists should pay ‘Road Tax’ and display a tax disc. I say that maybe they should but only when motorists do considering ‘Road Tax’ doesn’t exist and the bicycle is a zero emissions vehicle.

 So in conclusion, speeding is bad. Don’t do it.

Speed Cameras

A new report from the TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) and the Drivers’ Alliance (DA), or as I like to call them, the Jeremy Clarkson Reliance Alliance (JCRA) collates for the first time the full figure for fines raised through speed cameras in 2008-09.

According to their press release, ‘The report features full data for local Safety Camera Partnerships and Magistrates’ Courts for all areas of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. With the boom in speed cameras and speeding fines in recent years the issue has become highly controversial, particularly among motorists’.

I bet it has, I bet it has.

‘The report concludes that British policy should follow the good example of Swindon, which scrapped its speed cameras in 2008 with apparently no increase in road casualties as a result’.

I bet it does, I bet it does.

Amongst its key findings are the following:
– A total of £87,368,227 was collected in speeding and red light offences caught on speed cameras in the financial period 2008-09 in the UK. This also includes fines from magistrates’ courts for speeding offences and neglect of traffic directions in 2008. So don’t speed then and pay attention.
– The total includes £65,748,850 from fixed penalties detected by cameras operated by safety camera partnerships in England and Wales. It doesn’t matter who operates the cameras, they were caught speeding.
– It also includes £19,214,594 in fines from magistrates’ courts for speeding offences and neglect of traffic directions in calendar year 2008 in England and Wales. So don’t speed then and pay attention.
– It also includes £1,641,630 collected for speeding offences by the Scottish Courts in 2008-09. So don’t speed then.
– It also includes £763,153 from fixed penalties detected by speed cameras in Northern Ireland. So don’t speed then.
– The road casualty rate has declined at a slower rate since speed cameras were introduced in the early 1990s, compared to the rate prior to their introduction. It can be estimated that 1,555,244 more road casualties occurred between 1991-2007 than would have if the 1978-1990 trend had continued. Complete speculation. If I’d made it to the newsagents and got my lottery ticket on the Saturday before Christmas 2007, I might be a millionaire.

Matthew Elliott, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:
“Motorists have long suspected that speed cameras are more about raising money than keeping the roads safe. These findings show that the state has been squeezing a fortune out of people using these cameras, but if anything the rate of reduction in casualty numbers has slowed. The whole country should follow the example of Swindon, which has scrapped cameras altogether. People are sick of being fined under the guise of road safety.” If you drive properly, you don’t get fined. It’s that simple.


Peter Roberts, Chief Executive of the Drivers’ Alliance, said:
“Speed cameras have been a false hope in improving safety on British roads. Close statistical analysis of road casualties shows that, since speed cameras have been the main driver of road safety policy, the road casualty rate has not gone down at the trajectory expected. It is time to rethink road safety policy so that it has broadened focus, not solely based on speed. No more speed cameras should be funded by local authorities and existing speed cameras should be removed.” Which basically means “We want to drive like The Stig. Please remove the cameras because when we saw an advert for the Vauxhall Astra on ITV3 during ‘Midsummer Murders’ and it clearly depicted it speeding through city streets and nothing bad happened. Another advert clearly showed all roads being as clear as a Scottish Glen with no pedestrians, cyclists or any other life apart from Hondas”.


This is a bit weak by anyone’s standards. The simple fact is that if you’ve been caught breaking the law, you pay a fine and/or get points on you licence. They are not a cash cow. Casualty rates may not have come down at the ‘trajectory projected’, but they have still come down (they even created a graph depicting this). Cameras are large, usually painted bright yellow and have warning signs alerting you of their presence. If you get caught you really have only yourself to blame as you clearly can’t drive according to the correct speed limit and road conditions (and please remember that they are speed limits, not speed targets). I guess a bad workman always blames his tools. The fact that £87.3m has been collected in fines on Britain’s roads means there are A LOT of bad workmen.

The brilliant Roger Geffen, Director of Campaigns at CTC, issued this excellent statement.

“CTC supports both a substantial increase in traffic policing and the use of speed cameras – it’s not an ‘either-or’ situation.

“Contrary to media mythology, around three quarters of the public supports speed cameras, and for a very good reason: they save lives and make our streets safer, particularly for pedestrians, cyclists, children and older people. These groups are disproportionately the victims of irresponsible driving on our roads and streets.

“Speed is to blame for around a third of all road fatalities. Nobody likes to put a monetary value on a human life, yet the Department for Transport does just that. They say that cost to society of a death on our roads is £1.7M. On that basis, the cost to society of the 740 people killed last year by people driving too fast was a cool £1,200M.

“So there can be no justification whatsoever for these self-appointed representatives of ‘drivers’ and ‘tax-payers’ whingeing about £65M of fines being taken from criminals. If they don’t like the laws of the land, let them argue for higher limits – we think most decent-minded people will strongly disagree. But to argue against the enforcement of society’s rules, designed to protect human life, is simply beneath contempt.”

So drive properly then.