I see today that the UK has decided to stop any new “Smart Motorway” projects, insisting that they need extra safety precautions. This is primarily the aftermath of coroner’s reports into certain fatal accidents on these Smart Motorways.
From the article…
- In 2019, 15 people were killed on “all lane running” and “dynamic hard shoulder” motorways. This is four more deaths than in 2018.
- The number of people being killed on motorways without hard shoulders increased each year from 2015 to 2019, and totalled 39 deaths.
- By contrast, on so-called “controlled motorways” – a type of smart motorway which have variable speed limits and a hard shoulder – there were 24 deaths in that period.
- On conventional motorways, which cover more of the UK than smart motorways, there were 368 fatalities from 2015 to 2019.
The M1 around where I live was one of the first Smart Motorways, and I’ve written a lot about how stupid people can be on those motorways – particularly about the availability of lanes, and a lack of general driving standards (Middle-lane cunts and the like)
From my experience, a lot of drivers seem to be incapable of reading road signs saying whether a lane is open or closed (although also even whether the approaching junction is the one they want or not, until the absolute last minute) This also seems to be borne out by the latest rash of road-safety adverts telling people that they should ‘go left’ in case of problems on motorways (and fucking hell, in my opinion anyone who needs to be told this shouldn’t be in possession of a driving licence!)
As an example of this, one of the cases the coroners were looking at was one local to me where the person’s vehicle had a problem, showed the ‘engine problem’ warning light, and they pulled in to one of the emergency refuge areas. Now, when that happened to me, I got out of the car (in a snowy January) and called recovery to get me off the road safely. But not this twerd, oh no. They gave it a few minutes, started the car, no light came on, so they pulled out to continue their journey. (The ‘engine problem’ light doesn’t necessarily immediately light up on starting – for example, if the issue is to do with the turbo, the EGR valve, air filter etc., it’ll only come on when you accelerate over a certain rpm limit, at which point you’re shafted) And that’s what happened to Twonktacular – the light came back on, the engine performance disappeared, and they got hit by another vehicle. Yet somehow that’s the fault of the smart motorway, not the dumbass driver.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a huge fan of motorways without hard-shoulders. And I’m sure there are considerations and gambles that have been taken about how people get to emergency refuge areas, how the road monitoring is managed/staffed and so on. But I also understand how impractical it is, with current traffic levels and so on, to have a quarter of each road surface only available to vehicles in emergencies.
All told, I don’t believe that Smart Motorways are inherently dangerous. I think drivers (and their decisions, or lack thereof) are far more dangerous than roads. You just can’t blame an inanimate road for human stupidity.
Over the last year, a number of businesses have (unsurprisingly) moved out of the building where I have my office. The move to primarily working from home and so on has made them more aware of the costs of the offices, and in general I can see that it makes sense for them to downsize and so on.
What’s been more of a surprise is that other ones have moved in. Again, I get it for situations like mine, where it’s better to have the office, and where working from home isn’t practicable.
There are some of those new businesses though, that despite paying the office rental/lease for a year, haven’t actually been using the offices at all, and I really don’t understand that at all.
I suppose it’s a good write-off for tax purposes or whatever, but to me it’s still odd to be basically burning that cash for no benefit at all.
Obviously it’s not my problem, and nothing to do with me. It’s other people’s business decisions and so on. I just find it interesting, and slightly baffling.
Yesterday, for reasons I’ll write about some other time, I had to drive up to Newark.
It’s not a horrific drive, about 90 minutes usually, and pretty easy. Straight up the A1 , and then down the M1 to come home.
Yesterday though, was bloody vile. About halfway through the drive up, it started to snow – not super-heavy, but enough to make things interesting in the still-quite-dark winter morning.
It was at this point that I discovered that my car’s heating had packed up. Fuck.
By the time I stopped at Newark, it was snowing fairly heavily, and starting to settle.
When I came out to go home, the car had a good three or four inches of snow all over it, and the roads were full of it as well. The start of the drive home was emphatically Not Fun, although for me that was mainly because it was bloody cold inside the car, and no heating meant it was also steaming up a bit. The real Not Fun was more in the purview of other drivers who couldn’t handle snowy roads and/or hadn’t put lights on, and were generally utter fucksticks.
The M1 was OK – once I got down past Leicester the snow turned to heavy rain, and then it was just a slog through shitty weather and shitty traffic.
All in, the temperature (according to my car) rose by five full degrees (Centigrade) in the hundred miles between Newark and Home.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had a drive where I was actually thankful to get out at the end of it. But that was definitely one of them.
With the current Covid stuff, I’ve found it interesting to see how it has affected a range of people.
One of the big complaints about it is how the lockdowns have made so many people realise how lonely they are, along with the damage it’s done to those social norms and events.
Truly, this isn’t something I can empathise with. I’ve never really lived close to any of my friends – they’re scattered all over the place – so I’m absolutely used to being on my own in any particular area. So I’m alone, but I’m never lonely.
Alongside that, I don’t know, I simply don’t feel those things. I’m happy on my own, and always have been. Being sociable is my “not normal“, being on my own is the default position.
In all of that, I recognise that I’m “lucky“. I’ve come through this year OK, with far less damage than most people have suffered – whether that’s realising their lives are more lonely than they thought, being ill (or watching others being ill), or just seeing things change so much and feeling insecure because everything “normal” has suddenly tilted beyond recognition.
I sort-of understand that desire for everything to “go back to how it was“, but to me even that still carries a fair degree of self-delusion. Things have changed, and it’s (to me) far easier and smarter to embrace those changes and make progress with them (I hate the expression “the new normal”, but that’s what this is – even with vaccines and so on, there’ll still be major changes for the forseeable future)
I don’t know what 2021’s going to bring – although I don’t think it’s going to be a positive year – but I’m pretty sure I’ll get through it, same as I have this year. And all I can do is hope that the same is true for those I give a sod about.
This week, it’s been six months since Lockdown was announced. And in the same week, they’ve announced that the newest set of rules/laws/guidelines/guesswork are likely to apply for at least the next six months.
I wish I could say I was surprised. But I’m just not.
I don’t honestly think things will go back to “how they were”. Things will change – things have already changed – and they won’t go back to what they were. I fucking hate the expression “the new normal”, but it’s true, that’s what we’re going through, and we’re still finding our way through it, figuring out how things will be.
All the people-pleasing crap about a vaccine/cure for Covid is just that – crap. We might end up with the equivalent of the flu jab for Covid – might – but it will just be a defence. Even the flu ‘jab is just guesswork, a prediction based on what flu strains were around two years ago. Even those who’ve had the jab can still end up getting flu.
I don’t know all that the future will bring. I don’t even know how things will look in six months time – and nor does anyone else.
All any of us can really do is keep ourselves safe, and hope everyone else is doing the same thing. Other than that, it’ll just be a case of “we’ll see”.
Since re-starting the archery, I’ve been going pretty regularly, and it’s reminded me of one of those things I really don’t get, or don’t understand about other people.
I don’t get obsession. I never have – I don’t get it when it comes to collecting things, or dealing with people, or things like competitions.
In the case of the archery, to excel in it you need to be super-precise, to do everything exactly the same each time. And, frankly, I can’t be arsed. When I tried collecting things, it was the same – I did OK, but then when it gets to the obsession with completing things, with finding the rarities and the one-offs, I can’t be arsed.
I know I’m not perfect – but I’m good enough. I’m almost certainly not going to win against people who practice every day, or even multiple times a week. (Although from what I’ve seen, some of those people still aren’t any bloody good at it. But there we go, that’s a different matter) I don’t insist on everything being identical with each shot, I don’t have any aiming rituals etc. Instead, my mantra tends to be “Yeah, that’ll do”
Honestly, I don’t quite see how being that obsessed with perfection makes the entire thing any fun. To be that focused on something, when it’s the minutiae that matters, it seems to (in my opinion/experience) just suck all the life and enjoyment out of things.
At the end of the day, I’m good enough. It’s rare I miss, but I simply don’t care enough to want every single shot to be in the inner gold. I do what I can, and I don’t get stressed out by something I enjoy.
All things considered, that’ll do me.
In an ideal world, I’d actually like a quiet life. Not in terms of being (and/or keeping) busy, but in terms of once I get home. Once I’m there, I’d quite happily have a place with no noise.
Yes, there’d be a TV and so on, but that’s all noise that I control. I’m thinking more at the moment about other stuff, the noise I can’t control, and that sometimes drives me crackers.
The Bengal is one of the main culprits on this, if I’m honest – as soon as I get home, I’m being shouted at. It’s not like she’s hungry or anything – she’s just shouty. Sometimes it’s even before I get through the door – if it’s late evening (even if I’ve popped home in the day to make sure she’s fed etc.) it’s not unknown for the sodding cat to be sat outside waiting for me, and shouting the moment she sees me, like a mum going “And what time do you call this!” And it doesn’t let up for bloody ages. It’s exhausting.
Alongside that, I have the joys of neighbours. Throughout the lockdown/shutdown/slowdown, they’ve both seemed determined to be out in their yards, playing music loudly, and having loudspeaker/hands-free conversations on their phones – and it’s even seemed like they’re in direct competition sometimes. So it’s not been unusual for me to come home and not even be able to open the back door, because of the noise war going on.
All I want is for things to be quieter. I’m generally super-tired at the moment, which also makes me more sensitive to it all, and far far grumpier about the entire thing.
Recently I’ve even been thinking about moving – some of which is because of those neighbours – although with the looming of Brexit etc., I’ve made the decision to not jump things just yet. But there’s still the potential for the same to happen again.
In some ways – hell, in most ways – I’d be happy to be a hermit, to be out in the middle of nowhere with zero human contact on a day-to-day basis. The only problem with that concept is that the really out-of-the-way places then don’t have the other thing I want/need in life – a decent speedy broadband connection.
I’m sure there’s a balance to be found somewhere, and I’m sure I’ll figure it all out. For now though it’s just a bit bloody annoying. </grouch>