The Other Way

No Right Turn, No Left Turn, No Entry, Stop, Give Way, Do not cross Line, Bus Lane, Traffic Lights,Zebra Crossing, Puffin Crossing, Pelican Crossing, No Parking, No Loading, One Way, 30 mph, 40 mph, 50 mph, National Speed Limit, Tyre regulations, MOT, The Driving Test, road markings of all kinds, all traffic signs.

Scrap the Lot.

And most of the others out of the thousands of motoring regulations.

Keep.

The Driving Licence, Insurance regulations, driving on the left (sighs of relief), age regulations, drink/drive regulations (possibly strengthened), and not much else.

Introduce

A compulsory 20 hours of practical training, after which the new driver is on their own.

Ludicrous?

No. It works. I’ve seen it, been in it, tried it. Scary at first, sometimes very scary, until you realise there is only one law ruling – “Don’t hit anything”. I first experienced it in Istanbul, I have now seen long video footage of it working just as well in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). It handles traffic densities, consisting of a complete mix of all types of vehicle and pedestrian, far in excess of those we presently experience, without grid-lock. As an example, turn off the traffic lights at a junction that has long lines of waiting traffic in all directions, and what happens? The jams melt away gradually until everyone is slowly and carefully, but continuously going across. I’ve seen it.

I first came across it a few years ago in Istanbul, and was fascinated by the alternative it offered. We have long suffered from what I call the “Keep off the Grass” syndrome. Everything in motoring is regulated, and has been from the very start. Indeed this is our way of life on this Island of ours. I only know about motoring so would not dare to start thinking in terms of deregulating anything else. But in motoring, it works.

There has to be a complete re-thinking of attitudes before it can work. Mainly there has to be a co-operation and lack of aggression between road users of all conceivable types. “Keep space around you”, and “Don’t hit anything”, are the watchwords. In Istanbul I walked across a wide city street that was teeming with traffic of every conceivable type. I walked slowly and intelligently, slightly changing course to keep space between me and vehicles that themselves were co-operating with me and keeping space around themselves. I got across just fine. Then, as I had done it as an experiment after watching the “locals”, and not because I actually wanted to cross the road, I had to cross back again. My wife was watching all this, and thought I had gone mad, or tired of life. I got back again, in the same way, and with never an anxious moment.

Some sort of analogy with this is found to-day in this Country when motorways become full to well over their intended capacity, see the page on “Motorway Driving”. The rules go out the window, everyone is on their own, watch, notice, keep space around you, don’t do anything sudden or silly, don’t hit anything. The traffic segregates into slow, medium and fast categories, and it works.

It will not happen here. “Thank goodness for that”, do I hear? Perhaps you haven’t seen it. There is no way now that it could be introduced, even if a government had the courage, or was sufficiently foolish, depending on your point of view, to even contemplate it. Perhaps it could be done gradually, as in the old Music Hall joke about introducing “driving on the right”, with lorries the first week and cars the second !

Ah! What is that I hear? The men in white coats are coming. Good-bye.

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