'Only stricter traffic laws can prevent accidents'
From the health point of view we are living in a marvelous age. We are immunized from birth against many of the most dangerous diseases. A large number of once fatal illnesses can now be cured by modem drugs and surgery. It is almost certain that one day remedies will be found for the most stubborn remaining diseases. The expectation of life has increased enormously. But though the possibility of living a long and happy life is greater than ever before, every day we witness the incredible slaughter of men, women and children on the roads. Man versus the motor-car! It is a never-ending battle which man is losing. Thousands of people the world over are killed or horribly mutilated each year and we are quietly sitting back and letting it happen.
It has been rightly said that when a man is sitting behind a steering wheel, his car becomes the extension of his personality. There is no doubt that the motor-car often brings out a man's very worst qualities. People who are normally quiet and pleasant may become unrecognizable when they are behind a steering-wheel. They swear, they are ill-mannered and aggressive, willful as two-year-olds and utterly selfish. All their hidden frustrations, disappointments and jealousies seem to be brought to the surface by the act of driving.
The surprising thing is that society smiles so benignly on the motorist and seems to condone his behavior. Everything is done for his convenience. Cities are allowed to become almost uninhabitable because of heavy traffic; towns are made ugly by huge car parks; the countryside is desecrated by road networks; and the mass annual slaughter becomes nothing more than a statistic, to be conveniently forgotten.
It is high time a world code were created to reduce this senseless waste of human life. With regard to driving, the laws of some countries are notoriously lax and even the strictest are not strict enough. A code which was universally accepted could only have a dramatically beneficial effect on the accident rate. Here are a few examples of some of the things that might be done. The driving test should be standardized and made far more difficult than it is; all drivers should be made to take a test every three years or so; the age at which young people are allowed to drive any vehicle should be raised to at least 21; all vehicles should be put through stringent annual tests for safety. Even the smallest amount of alcohol in the blood can impair a person's driving ability. Present drinking and driving laws (where they exist) should be made much stricter. Maximum and minimum speed limits should be imposed on all roads. Governments should lay down safety specifications for manufacturers, as has been done in the USA. All advertising stressing power and performance should be banned. These measures may sound inordinately harsh, but surely nothing should be considered as too severe if it results in reducing the annual toll of human life. After all, the world is for human beings, not motor-cars.