Further to the previous post, where someone who had been caught speeding was gaining a frightening amount of sympathy from her peers, I did a little research.
You see, young people appear singularly incapable of accepting that they are wrong, and will invoke all manner of pseudo-science (and rap or hip-hop lyrics) to prove their point. They are the modern day equivalent of the Flat Earth Society in this respect.
First of all, I found this Australian study from 1997, titled Travelling Speed and the Risk of Crash Involvement (C. N. Kloeden, A. J. McLean, and G Ponte). It makes very interesting reading – particularly the findings represented by this graph:
What the researchers did was investigate the details associated with a number of crashes, and calculate the relative risk of an injury-accident for various speeds above 60km/h (which is around 40mph). They set the relative risk to 1.0 at exactly 60km/h.
The clear conclusion they drew was that for every 5km/h above 60km/h, the relative risk of an accident involving injury doubled. So at 60km/h it was 1.0, at 65km/h it rose to ~2, at 70km/h it was ~4, and so on. At 85km/h (approximately 55mph) – the upper limit of their study – the relative risk had risen to almost 60.
As the researchers point out, the risk of being involved in a casualty crash is quite low – this graph is relative risk. But the findings are quite clear. They conclude:
Above 60 km/h there is an exponential increase in risk of involvement in a casualty crash with increasing travelling speed such that the risk approximately doubles with each 5km/h increase in travelling speed.
Next, there is a 2005 American report, titled Research Links Speed Increases With Increased Accidents and Accident Severity, Though Lower Speed Increases Only Effect Crashes Marginally (Virginia Department of Transportation). It’s more a collation and summary of the abstracts of numerous data sources than an actual study.
Like the Australian paper, it makes reference to data from 1964, by Solomon. The original graphs are shown on the left, but you can see them in greater detail in the Australian paper.
The top one shows the involvement rate in accidents versus travelling speed – and there is one curve for daytime accidents, and one for nighttime. It is clear that the rate is lowest between 50 and 70mph. It rises exponentially either side of this.
The lower graph shows the involvement rate in accidents versus deviation for the mean speed of the traffic all around (again, one curve for daytime, one for nighttime). The involvement rate is lowest for cars travelling close to the mean speed – in other words, the same speed as everyone else. The greater the deviation, then the greater the involvement rate.
The lower graph explains the upper one. Basically, since most people will be travelling at somewhere around the speed limit, it is those who are deviating grossly – by either driving too fast or too slow – who appear most at risk. It doesn’t matter who is right and who is wrong as far as travelling speed is concerned, because this is just accident involvement, not accident responsibility.
Another American study from 1998, titled Synthesis of Safety Research Related to Speed and Speed Management (Anacapa Sciences, Inc.), includes this comment:
The relationship between vehicle speed and crash severity is unequivocal and based on the laws of physics. The kinetic energy of a moving vehicle is a function of its mass and velocity squared. Kinetic energy is dissipated in a collision by friction, heat, and the deformation of mass. Generally, the more kinetic energy to be dissipated in a collision, the greater the potential for injury to vehicle occupants. Because kinetic energy is determined by the square of the vehicle’s speed, rather than by speed alone, the probability of injury, and the severity of injuries that occur in a crash, increase exponentially with vehicle speed. For example, a 30–percent increase in speed (e.g., from 50 to 65 mi/h [80 to 105 km/h]) results in a 69–percent increase in the kinetic energy of a vehicle.
This is precisely what I have been saying. That the faster you are going, the more serious will be the consequences if you have an accident. And the report adds this:
Solomon [from 1964, again] concluded that crash severity increased rapidly at speeds in excess of 60 mi/h (96 km/h), and the probability of fatal injuries increased sharply above 70 mi/h (112 km/h).
So on the one hand, it would appear that the current UK upper limit of 70mph IS the best in terms of convenience and safety. However, the report also mentions the effects of raising and lowering speed limits around the world in the last 20 years or so. The researchers found the following:
- relatively small reductions in upper speed limits led to a reduction in fatalities by up to a quarter
- relatively small increases in upper speed limits led to an increase in fatalities by up to a a third
It should be pointed out that some changes appeared to have no significant effect on accidents and fatalities (read the report yourselves), but the majority did. It was clear that increasing speed limits led to anything from a negligible to a dramatic increase in accidents and fatalities (with the exception of one US situation).
Finding this information is easy – and there is much more or it out there. However, what is also clear from reading it is that there is no single factor which governs safety, accidents, or anything else. You can’t just push a button or flip a switch and have everything all nice and comfy – something the DSA needs to take note of the next time it tries to make a silly blanket decisions about ADIs having to sit in on driving tests, and argue that this will reduce fatalities somehow.
I also refer back to an earlier quote, which points out that a 30% increase in speed from 50 to 65mph leads to a 69% increase in the kinetic energy of the vehicle! So just going 15mph faster could potentially lead to you having an accident which is And yet the IAM would have you dangerously believe that speeding is “relatively unimportant” in how accidents occur, whereas our Mickey Mouse government wants to cheaply win votes by increasing our upper motorway speed limit from 70mph to 80mph.
Is it any wonder young people (mentioned in Part I of this topic) have stupid ideas about speeding?
The simple fact is that the faster you go, the less time you have to react – and as a new driver, you already have far less time than you think. You are not perfect, and you most certainly aren’t immortal. The result of this is that any accident you have will be worse – much worse – than if you’d have gone slower.
On a certain web forum frequented by students, someone has written that they were stopped at 2am on the M1 doing 96mph. They want to know how many points they are likely to get.
To be fair to the person, they do appear to be sorry and worried – though I can’t help wonder if that is much of a defence when you are going at a speed which is so far above the legal limit of 70mph. After all, if they hadn’t been caught, they’d still be out there behaving in exactly the same way. But that’s not my point.
Here are some of the typical responses – poor spelling and grammar left as is – from people who apparently represent the future. I will discuss the points highlighted with superscripts later:
thats pretty unlucky because my friend was on there on sunday and clocked up to 146mph and never even saw a, police car.
…96 at 2AM on the countries best motorway. TBH, for me, should be legal. Cars have minor stopping distances1 and amazing technology…
Tbh it’s ridiculous that you even get pulled for that at 2am in the morning.
I’ve done a lot of driving around that time, and there are hardly any other people on the motorway2.
It’s not as if you could harm other people…
…Oh, and 100mph.. big boy!! Its a bad ride if the bike doesnt touch 100 at least once on a ride out, and it’ll get there in about 5 seconds if I ask nicely. My licence is clean as well3.
From 100 mph my bike will stop quicker than most cars from 70… The bike is far far more agile than cars at speed due to the small amount of weight which has to change direction. My vision and road awareness is better than most car drivers4.
96 mph is nothing, last time few times iv been driving iv done 104mph on both the M40 and the A38. The only danger here is that my car is only a 0.9 engine and the whole thing starts vibrating like itl fall apart at any second5. Iv also been caught for speeding after half a year driving, a year and a half ago doing 50ish through a 30 in a place called milford common near stafford and i got three points, although in fairness to me, it was one of those 50 areas which is suddenly a 30 for about 500m.
Also, an excuse iv used before when cautioned by an officer is that I had a nut allergy6 and i had to get to a hospital quickly or id die. That works, so try it out!!!
It’s safe to go well over 100 at 2am7, tbh.
My dad just did one for going over 100mph on the motorway; was a £60 fine and £120 for the course, and much worse a waste of 3-4 hours of your time (they really take back the time u saved by speeding), but crucially 0 points.
Oh be apologetic and sorry in court ye 8
When my mate did it, He didn’t even bother stopping for the popo, Lol he got a fine and 6 month driving ban 9
The very first quote just illustrates the mentalities of these people. At best, they are a few months out of nappies, and it is all one big boast for them. I should point out, of course, that not all young drivers are like this – but the ones that are certainly screw things up for the rest.
Even if they try and argue their corner (1), they are frequently just wrong. This character reckons that cars have “minor stopping distances”. Well, at 96mph the overall stopping distance would be around 560 feet, or 170 metres (at best). That’s about 40 car lengths, or about 100 bicycle lengths, or over 500 pedestrian lengths… it would take you nearly 3 minutes to walk that far! Hardly a “minor” distance, is it?
Then there is the frequent comment (2) that it is “quiet” at 2am (or whenever), and at those times you should be allowed to do whatever speed you wish. I’m sure that fog, unlit sections of road, debris on the carriageway, potholes, foxes, deer, broken down vehicles, other drivers who don’t realise how fast the prat behind is going and so pull out, and so on all cease to be a factor at 2am in the morning. Or not, as the case may be. And this same idiot goes on to say that “it’s not as if you could harm other people”. And another one (7) states that going at that speed at 2am is “safe”.
As well as the general stupidity of many of the younger driving generation, there is always one who stands out as more stupid than the rest (3). The fact he is also a motorbike rider is surely just a coincidence..? He brags about doing 100mph regularly, otherwise it is a “bad ride”, and he is serious. He also brags about having a clean licence, as if this means what he is doing is somehow OK. He also makes the ridiculous statement (4) about his bike being “more agile” than a car and himself having better road awareness than anyone else.
Another boaster (5) even provides location information about his achievements. He makes it clear he has been caught before on several occasions, and has even lied (6) to avoid prosecution. If the police look in, I’d suggest following that one up because many of these people really shouldn’t be driving, and a chance to remove one of them from the roads without having to go outside ought to be appealing to them.
Yet another boaster (8) provides tips on how to behave in court to get a softer sentence. His father has recently been prosecuted for doing over 100mph on the motorway, so he obviously provides a superb role model for this little cretin.
And finally, another boaster (9) – who is obviously impressed by the impetuosity of his friend, who was fined and banned for “doing it” (“it” presumably being driving at 100mph or more).
What is important to realise here is that not a single one of these morons will have been taught to drive like that. They behave like this through choice, and when they start taking lessons many of them just yearn for the day they’ll be able to break free of the leash and go and behave like prats, under the impression that it’s cool and boastworthy. This is where the authorities are so far out of touch with reality that you really do despair. They think that things like forcing the instructor to sit in on tests is going to alter the way people choose to behave. They think that suddenly calling driving instruction “coaching” will sort out the problems, and then idiots who will gladly jump on any bandwagon that they think makes being an ADI something that it isn’t – with buzzwords like “life coaching”, “life skills”, “client-centred learning”, and so on – almost wet themselves trying to peddle their “enhanced” services as a result.
Going back to Mr Fantastic Motorbike Rider who I quoted above, he is typical of the vast majority of his kind – and by “kind”, I mean young motorcycle riders and motorists. He’s the best at everything, knows more than everyone else (even people who are experts), has faster reactions than Superman, and his bike is almost as good – apparently being able to go from 100-0mph over what would appear to be about 10m, if you believe his bullshit. He says in another one of his posts:
Doing 96mph on its own presents no more risk than doing 70mph. The problem comes from other traffic, and the weather/road conditions. I dont like your immediate assumption that because the speed is X it is so much more dangerous than speed Y. Not true. You could very very easily get conditions which are safer at 90, than different conditions at 70. For example a busy road with occasional slow moving traffic and heavy rain at 70mph is more dangerous than doing 100 down an empty 3 lane motorway in clear, dry conditions.
This is actually frightening. That someone so unintelligent should be allowed to drive a motor vehicle of any kind, believing that driving at 100mph is no more dangerous than driving at 70mph. To make matters worse, he is echoing some of the idiotic rhetoric that certain anorak advanced driving groups have been advocating in order to flex their political muscle.
I’ve never had to look this up, but I have always known that having an accident increases in severity the faster you are going. It’s just the application of simple physical laws – like a pedestrian colliding with a post can result in anything from embarrassment (if they just step into it) to a hospital stay (if they run into it and knock themselves out).
If you lose control of a car at 70mph you might spin, bounce off the barrier, and even roll the car over (which is obviously bad enough); but lose control at 100mph and you’re likely to go through the barrier, or over it, and into the path of other traffic, barrel-roll down the embankment, and probably disintegrate the car as you do it. People will be sellotaping flowers with your name on them to lamp posts. This is because there is more energy to get rid of before you stop.
But that’s not all there is to it. There are the small matters of reaction time and control even before the accident actually occurs.
The faster you’re traveling, the more difficult it is to keep the vehicle under control – this is yet again down to simple laws of physics. You see, if you are driving at 30mph on a typical road, in typical conditions, in a typical car, and you suddenly steer to avoid a pothole or something, the car will simply deviate in the direction you steer. At 70mph the borderline between keeping control and losing it is much closer because there is sufficient energy for a skid. At 100mph there is more than enough energy for a skid and even a slight overreaction could lead to loss of control – someone pulling out who doesn’t realise that you’re caning it, for example.
To make matters worse, further simple physics means that the faster you approach a hazard the less time you have to think about it. Adding a little human biology makes the risk of error greater the less time you have to think. At 30mph, even if you hit a pothole you’d not lose control. At 70mph, you’d have time to steer around it. At 100mph – with all the other things going on in your head – you probably wouldn’t even see it.
This has turned into a long article. I have some scientific data to discuss, so I’ll put it in a separate post (which is here).
An email alert from the DSA reports on a new THINK! campaign aimed at making children, well… think before crossing the road.
The campaign cost £700,000 (it uses those animations with ugly characters, like the Lloyds Bank ads) and will be run on TV and in cinemas. It’s aimed at 6-11 year olds and “spells out the dangers of not taking care on the roads”. It emphasises the importance of crossing safely and making sure you can be seen when you’re out in the dark.
Is it just me who thinks that the real problem is being totally ignored, and actually used as a tool to make matters even worse?
Although there are reasons why 6-11 year olds would be out after dark (i.e. on their way home from school in winter), there is no mention of the fact that most of them will still be out after 9pm – indeed, out until the local off licence or chip shop closes and there’s nowhere else to stand smoking, spitting, and swearing whilst blocking the door with their BMX bikes or attempts to skateboard.
And what self-respecting hoodie is going to wear anything other than a filthy black or grey top with baggy black trousers. How many BMX bikes even have a location for a light, let alone have one fitted?
And how can you expect any 6-11 year old to know any better when their parents – little more than children themselves in many cases – behave in exactly the same way?
The problem is the parents – it is they who should be receiving the education, not the kids.
I’d also point out to Mike Penning that, in spite of his best rhetoric, it isn’t anything new. Over the years we’ve had dozens of them – all of them worked – and once upon a time 100,000 children or more took a cycling proficiency test. These days, they just inherit a frontal lobotomy from their parents.
An email alert from the DSA:
The THINK! website has changed
Road safety information has been moved to three different places in line with government rules to move public information to Directgov.
Visit direct.gov.uk/think for THINK! campaign information including:
- THINK! road safety statistics and facts
- THINK! adverts and interactive road safety games
- partnership information
Road safety advice
Visit the new road safety advice section of Directgov for general road safety information including:
- drink driving limits
- advice on choosing and fitting child car seats
- penalties for using hand-held mobile phones whilst driving
Road safety professionals
Visit the new road safety professional area on the Department for Transport website for information and resources to support professionals in delivering road safety messages including:
- THINK! campaign strategies, key messages and recent campaign activity
- THINK! research including campaign evaluation
- information about using THINK! adverts and brand guidelines
THINK! Education websites haven’t changed
Well, it’s that time of year again! Everyone has to pretend to be pleased that the pass rate has increased for the umpteenth (28th, I think) year in a row.
One in ten exams in English and maths is now taken by pupils aged 15 or under…
…Head teachers are increasingly putting bright pupils in for GCSEs early and starting sixth-form studies at age 15.
Yes. That’s because the exams are so easy now that you hardly need to have any significant teaching to be able to pass them. Obviously, even a passably bright 15 year old can do it!
I did this last year, but I have since got hold of a lot more GCSE Maths papers from the last few years. Take a look at Question 2 from a 1968 ‘O’ Level Maths paper:
Now take a look at Questions 1 and 2 taken from two random GCSE papers:
You do not need to know any maths at all to answer question 1. The answer is in the question, and you get 2 marks for that! Question 2 is the simplest of arithmetical puzzles, and you gte 6 marks for it. There is simply no comparison. Modern exams are easy – almost Pub Quiz level – in comparison with those from the past. This explains why Universities are overflowing with applications.
In the past, only those with the get up and go to get good ‘A’ Level grades and the desire and drive to go to University ended up with ‘A’ Levels and degrees. Nowadays, it is virtually impossible to not get an ‘A’ Level (especially if you do it in an idiot subject like “media studies” or “drama”). But although for many years ‘A’ Levels in idiot subjects have been enough to get you a place at a University, the better ones are now digging their heels in. They have a list of banned A levels…
A-LEVELS UNIVERSITIES DON’T LIKE
- Media studies
- Business studies
- Theatre studies
- Music technology
- Art and design
- General studies
- Film studies
- Communication studies
- Leisure studies
- Travel & tourism
- Health/social care
- Sports studies
- World develop’t
- Home economics
…AND ONES THEY DO
- English literature
- Mod’n languages
- Latin and Greek
- History of art
- Ancient history
Some people are trying to make out this is to deliberately block state-school pupils, but I can’t help thinking that if state-school pupils did Chemistry or Physics instead of Health & Social Care then there wouldn’t be an issue (other than the fact it would be harder). People have just got to accept that an ‘A’ Level in Chemistry, Biology, Maths, or whatever is worth a lot more than one in Dance or Travel & Tourism. It’s like comparing a gold ingot to a housebrick.
Well, the BBC has been behaving as if no one ever – in the history of the universe – has ever got their exam results at this time of year. And once again, record A Level pass rates have been recorded.
I heard a funny job advertisement on Smooth Radio the other day. For anyone who doesn’t know, Smooth Radio is a radio channel which specialises in half decent music part of the time, absolutely crap music for another part of the time, and inexplicable and ne’er-acknowledged silences the rest of the time. The inexplicable silences can be quite a big chunk if the station is going through a bad patch. Oh, and it also likes to arrange for the news, adverts, and music pre-recorded loops to all play at the same time, sometimes. Especially at weekends when there’s no one around to push the right button on the DJ console. Oh (again), it also likes to claim that it doesn’t play the same music over and over (like other local stations do), which is only true if you don’t include Rod Stewart, Michael Bublé, and anything to do with Motown… other than those, they don’t repeatedly play the same music over and over.
Anyway, this job wanted someone with:
…a 1st degree or equivalent and [exceptional] administration skills.
What the hell is equivalent to a 1st class degree? A BTEC? A food hygiene certificate? A season ticket to Stoke City? And it goes to show how valuable a degree really is when they want someone with a 1st who has exceptional “admin skills”.
The Daily Mail did an article a while ago about how questions from past papers were baffling to pupils trying to answer them today. Admittedly, the Daily Mail will no doubt run a series of articles over the next week about how it is ridiculous to suggest exams are getting easier and that it is children getting smarter which explains improving pass rates. Even in one of its more lucid articles from today it quotes…
Mike Cresswell, director general of the AQA, insisted there was no evidence to suggest exams were getting easier.
He said: ‘The improvements differ between regions so naive dumbing-down arguments do not wash.’
We all know this is total bullshit – exam questions are NOT as hard now as they were in the past. So, I did a bit of scouting myself and here’s what I found (this is for O levels and GCSEs, but it holds true for A Levels as well).
First of all, thanks to
Maths Answers, I found a few Maths O Level papers from the late 1950s and late 1960s. Anyone who did O Levels will know that the first section always had the “easy”, “quick” questions in it. So from 1957, we have:
1957 O Level Maths Paper – Section 1
And from 1968 (note that there was also a question A6 but I clipped it off just so I could keep it in a graphic the same size as the 1957 one):
1968 O Level Maths Paper – Section A
Now, I hope you’re all sitting comfortably and have been meditating or playing Nintendo DS brain-training games – we’re about to see some modern GCSE Maths paper questions. If you don’t prepare yourselves properly, your brains might explode from the strain…
Here is question 1 from a May 2008 paper (sorry about the formatting – it appears that modern children are all visually challnged and need to have a whole page for each question):
2008 Maths GCSE – Question 1
You can immediately see how standards have not dropped in the slightest – this question is easily as tough as any of those from 1957 or 1968! I mean, is that a nice clip art of the cathedral, or what? And it gets harder. Also from the same paper we have question 2:
2008 Maths GCSE – Question 2
That one must separate the wheat from the chaff. And it moves on to question 3:
2008 Maths GCSE – Question 3
Statistics, too? And now the really heavy stuff… question 4:
2008 Maths GCSE – Question 4
OK. Sarcasm over. I could go on, but you get the idea. This paper was one I picked randomly, but they are all the same.
Now, if you seriously believe that the modern question papers are difficult per se then you have no right passing an opinion on whether or not they are easier than they were 40 years ago – you simply don’t know enough to comment (or you are a parent so blinded by love for your child that you just can’t see facts staring you in the face). They are easy. Extremely easy.
No one who is capable of answering the older papers will be in any doubt that the modern ones are much, much easier. Embarrassingly so. So embarrassingly easy, in fact, that you seriously have to question the suitability of anyone in government or elsewhere – like Mike Cresswell, who argues they are not easier – for the positions they currently occupy. It is extremely unlikely anyone taught the syllabus for the 2008 paper would understand a single word of the 1968 or 1957 ones, let alone be capable of answering the questions, and people like Mike Cresswell are responsible for a wholesale decline in educational standards as a result of their transparent attempts to talk themselves up.
Let’s face it, Mr Cresswell and his kind wouldn’t be in their jobs long if they admitted exams were being dumbed down, would they?
Speaking personally, I can answer every single one of the questions on the 2008 paper without breaking sweat – they are basic general knowledge, with the answer provided in the question itself. But even though I passed Maths O Level (and have a degree in Chemistry), I’d have to do some serious revising to be able to answer a lot of the questions on those older papers.
I can’t believe this is even a debate. Exams are easier now. It’s a demonstrable fact.
EDIT: Suddenly getting a lot of hits from the Vote UK Discussion Forum. Like most forums, it has a strokes-chin-looks-wise-and-says-mmmm-but-I-think-he’s-missing-the-point character who thinks he knows everything.
I should point out once again that the exam papers shown above were not hand picked. They were a random selection from a website from which you can download ANY modern past paper. Getting the old ones was the real challenge.
No matter which paper you take, if it is a GCSE paper then comparing it with old ‘O’ Level papers is like comparing a cat with a horse and trying to argue that they’re the same animal! Unfortunately, this is exactly what the people claiming exams aren’t easier are saying.
Also worth pointing out to Mr strokes-chin-looks-wise-and-says-mmmm-but-I-think-he’s-missing-the-point über-expert that I am a chemist, and that he shouldn’t judge a book by its cover – or a person by their current job.
Looking at my stats and yesterday the number of hits went through the roof. Amazing how many people were searching for ‘Linda Kingdon ‘ (and one or two for the school’s – sorry, the ‘place for learning’s’ - name).
She’s the one I wrote about recently who has banned the use of the word ‘school’ to describe her, er, school.
I wonder if it’s because she and her teachers – ooops! I mean, ‘people who convey knowledge’ – have been boosting their egos by seeing what a commotion they’ve caused…?
I saw this story in today’s Daily Mirror newspaper.
I nominate headmaster – sorry: headteacher – Richard Sammonds for the 2008 Total and Utter Prat Award . I quote:
But headteacher Richard Sammonds said: “Red pen can be quite demotivating for children.
“It has negative, old school connotations of ‘See me’ and ‘Not good enough’.”
…Mr Sammonds’ Crofton Junior School in Orpington, Kent, is among hundreds to have banned the ink. He added: “We use highlighter pens in all colours of the rainbow – apart from red.”
Erm. I hate to break it to you, Richard, but one of the main aims of learning is to identify when things aren’t good enough so you can improve. Children are not able to determine what is good enough in this context, and that’s why we have teachers. Well, it used to be. It seems that teachers these days are allowed – nay! forced – to do everything except teach. It isn’t hard to imgine the meetings, brainstorming sessions, and other wastes of taxpayers’ money that led to this earth-shattering decision.
Also in the running for the same award is Shirley Clarke from The Institute of Education – an organisation which clearly moulds itself around whatever its members are doing instead of directing them in what they should be doing. Again, I quote:
“When children see every single spelling mistake covered in red they can feel useless and give up.”
The little dears. I’m sure Mr Sammonds and Ms Clarke will be proud to know in their retirement years that they contributed to a generation which doesn’t know right from wrong, or good from bad, and which will no doubt need psychiatric help when it discovers what real life is like once it leaves school – with the ubiquitous fifteen GCSEs (all A**) and the impression that it knows more than the rest of society put together.
This pair of idiots need someone to explain to them that children only react badly to red pen (and loads of other things the politically-correct brigade has jumped on) if they know that it is under scrutiny and they can win a point. And that in itself is because some moron in the past has given children the idea that they can decide what to learn – which is why half of them can’t read, can’t spell, and think that by answering a couple of multiple choice questions about gay civil partnerships they can become X Factor contestants when they leave school (well, it IS a job, isn’t it?).