As we are all locked down (more or less) by this global Covid-19 pandemic, maybe we should look to find ways of using the time.
In 1665, Cambridge University closed because of the Bubonic plague. Isaac Newton quarantined himself at his childhood home. It was the most productive time of his life. He discovered the calculus and laws of motion. But even Newton got bored and took to computing pi to as many digits as he could.
Some time ago I wrote a blog post called Beware Notice of Tax Return e-mail which has been receiving a lot of traffic of late. I was wondering why until I received an e-mail with subject “ID: 441013829” from “firstname.lastname@example.org”. In the body of the e-mail the message:
Pending Tax Refund
We would like to notify you that you still have an outstanding tax
refund of £265.84 from overpaid tax from year ending 2015, despite our
previous letters regarding your refund we are yet to receive your claim.
Requests for refunds are time limited please use the link below to
complete your claim online also note the following:
* You have until the 30th of March 2016 to make your claim
* Reference No: 2015/956324/B
* We can only process a refund for the tax year we have detailed above
Start Claim [button with this is the link to the Start Claim http://www.frantonhomes.com/job.php?C15B4DA2EFBF3EDCF5B3B7939084862B72B080884662CE63CD8FCDBE470C76758A9EF80891AD034E2B3E1D8E2E2142CA5A752E9C8C8BD218E82E790DB5027 ]
We aim to send repayments within 2 weeks, but it may take longer in some
cases. You should wait 4 weeks before contacting us about the payment.
You might not realise it, but today is the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, which takes place on the third Sunday in November every year as the appropriate acknowledgement of victims of road traffic crashes and the victims’ families. It is estimated, worldwide, that 1.2 million people are killed in road crashes each year and as many as 50 million are injured. I was going to list all the people I have personally known who have died on the roads, members of my extended family, friends and acquaintances. But by the time I had got to 20, I was finding it all too depressing and so abandoned the idea. Too much loss, too much pain.
The theme for this year is “Speed kills – design out speeding”
For some years now, along with the Pedal on Parliament campaign group, I have been advocating the idea that the statutory speed limit for built up areas in Scotland should be lowered from 30mph to 20mph. This would undoubtedly save lives and make Scotland a better place to live. Not only would it be relatively cheap to do, but it is also within the gift of the Scottish Parliament. The power to vary speed limits was devolved, along with the power to vary the drink-driving limits, as part of the Scotland Act (2012). The Scottish Parliament has exercised the power to change the drink-drive limit, from 5th December 2014 the permitted blood alcohol limit for drivers will be cut from 80mg to 50mg in every 100ml of blood. This has to be a good thing. However, the powers to vary speed limits has, so far, only been used to raise the speed limit for heavy goods vehicles using the A9. This is a retrograde step as Holyrood does not have the power to change the Laws of Physics, and therefore this will in no way make the A9 a safer road.
As I have said elsewhere, it has been known for well over 30 years that, as traffic speed increases, so does the risk to pedestrians:
Hit by a car at 20 mph, 3% of pedestrians will be killed – 97% will survive
Hit by a car at 30 mph, 20% of pedestrians will be killed – 80% will survive
Hit by a car at 35 mph, 50% of pedestrians will be killed – 50% will survive
Hit by a car at 40 mph, 90% of pedestrians will be killed – 10% will survive
Hit by a car at 50 mph, >99% of pedestrians will be killed – <1% will survive
Many drivers don’t think about the fact that at 30 mph, a vehicle travels 44ft (roughly three car lengths) every second and at 20mph a vehicle travels 29.3ft (roughly two car lengths). The average reaction time of drivers is between 1 and 1.5 seconds. Then it takes time to actually stop, and to stop safely drivers have to think ahead rather than just try to react to the situation. Lowering the speed limit allows drivers more time to think and therefore reduces the frequency of accidents collisions. There are people out there who think that they are a good drivers and that it wouldn’t happen to them – I would suggest that they read about the experiences of this Hertfordshire GP, who used to think it wouldn’t happen to him.
Once again, I call on the Scottish Government to lower the statutory speed limit in built up areas from 30mph to 20mph, this will save lives. If you agree with me write to your MSPs today and tell them so.
This post also appears on the Pedal on Parliament website, in a slightly modified form.
Occasionally you come across a video which just makes you say “Wow”, Beautiful Scotland – Aerial / Drone Showreel by John Duncan is one such video. “Living in Edinburgh we’re fortunate to have some truly magnificent sights on our doorstep”, need I say more? Enjoy!