But what is happening now? They’re dropping like ninepins. Swindon led the way, and other authorities such as Oxfordshire and Wiltshire are following. Obviously this is in response to government budget cuts, but if local councils genuinely believed they were effective, surely they would be fighting to keep them and cutting other areas of expenditure instead. In reality, cuts are being used as a cover to beat a retreat from a discredited and unpopular policy. And, despite the shroud-waving anguish from pressure groups such as BRAKE and RoadPeace, I would confidently forecast that we’ll see a further fall in road fatalities in 2010, following the very encouraging figures in 2009. I’m sure Paul Smith will be looking down from above and feeling thoroughly vindicated.
And this underlines the point that, however permanent and entrenched something seems to be, it is not a law of nature that anything endures forever. You don’t have to “accept it” and “move on”. Nobody can predict whether the wheel may turn full circle. No doubt in the early 1920s US Prohibition was widely seen as “here to stay”. But it wasn’t.