Carping Cartoon of Rabid Report on Car Camera Claptrap
Well, well ~ what a surprise! Once again then, collusive correctness clamour for command control provoked polarisation from people who wouldnít have dreamed of booing Her Majestyís Goose even when itís been pinching ever more of their silver yet never laid so much as a brass egg never mind any golden ones! Some simple sums persuaded me to persevere on critical cartoons in other meldrewsims sufficing to stuff this story right up the proverbial porthole which has never any produced proper policies only mind-numbing mantras masquerading as model messages. Ironically, ďSpeed KillsĒ probably tops the list for money pocketed by parasitic pickers ever eager to grab the lollies dolled out by dunces.
Reflectively In round terms and simply to set scales, there are 30M motorists of whom 3Mpa will soon be camera criminalized (Darlingís personal projection from 1M this year) of whom around 300Kpa are involved in minor scrapes / injuries of whom around 30Kpa are causally connected with serious maiming / damage of whom around 3Kpa kill themselves and innocents. Inverting these numbers for expected intervals between occurrences per driver, we get 10 years (soon) between camera criminalizations, 100 years between minor offences, 1000 years between serious ones and 10K years between killings ~ or respectively odds of 5:1 on for camera crap and 2:1, 20:1, 200:1 against for the others during a driving lifetime of 50 years, The anomaly here is clearly camera punishment policy with frequency of finings up by a factor of ten against historical precedent for minor infringements that we used to call accidents.
Another way of seeing this silliness is to suggest that as a general rule 1000 people should be prosecuted not so much for every murder or even every manslaughter nor even every maniacal suicide because killing by car is so seldom intentional,, so freakishly extreme that no systemic solution could cater for its occurrence ~ as indeed evinced by the modest marginal even reduction in death from dangerous driving despite broadband breathalysing over the past two decades, Indeed, considering that a fair faction of moronic motorists kill only themselves and / or passenger participants in their madness (I have no idea of numbers of single vehicle fatalities but could conjecture high 100s pa), itís even akin to prosecuting people for an assumed arcane association with suiciders or extreme eventers of the sort who would never be approved for insurance cover!
Multiple fatality crashes on motorways or involving minibuses (especially both) had historically always been attributed to essentially inestimable elements like weather, drowsiness, illness, distraction, etc whereas nowadays the mantra means that blame must always be pinpointed and excessive speed almost always is posited as core cause or connection. Again I have no idea of these numbers but again could conjecture mid 100spa ~ indeed if it was possible / practicable to delineate all eventualities it seems entirely possible that it there might be left only a comparable residue (mid to high100s) accessible to one-to-one causal connection ~ but again I have no idea how many fatal accident convictions are actually attributable to speeding although of course widely publicised cases always emphasise super-speeding far in excess of the established 10%+2mph rule which ACPO amazingly saw fit recently to criticise as being too lenient!
Anyway my thread here, more a hawser, is manifestly against any meaningful message in the mantra by which 1M ordinary citizens were camera criminalized in the past year as irrational acts of atonement for the perhaps comparable number (mid to high 100s) of people killed exclusively due to excessive speed without any other intervening factors. The syndrome here (blame association or guilt dissociation by behavioural attribution) is an insane extension of the fashionable feeding frenzy for apologetic atonement that has also been fuelled by feely-touchy futilities of the present incumbents whose byword has been sales-speak as much and often as possible but otherwise actually achieve little and seldom especially on those things that really needed be done but then more often than not entailing actions aspiring to look good however irrelevant or ineffectual.
As analogy, albeit inadequate, consider city centre booze-cruising crime dismissed (at least when I drafted this) by politicos as boisterousness for fear of alienating the racketeering mafias that they encouraged to move in as a cheap way of revitalising run-down central areas. Most cities quite probably endure killings every week that can be attributed to drink dehibition so why not criminalize and fine thousands or so randomly selected from the several thousand impaired by alcohol and so deserving disorderly detention on the basis that any thoughtless acts could conceivably unintentionally kill ~ simply not on, is it! So itís the arbitrariness that stinks here ~ cameras are cheap and convenient and not confrontational so they make ideal cash cows for the unsavoury characters that are lured by the prospect of quick killingsÖ meaning all along the links in a chain that stretches from suppliers to operators through buyers from policymakers and politicos playing percentages with polled opinion warped by pressure from apocalyptic playmakers in league with media meddlers in turn manipulating their own leverage and all involved in this unholy alliance doing it for personal promotion not public benefaction.
Okay, so much for the diatribe but what about the substance that spawned it? Well, the spawners themselves are suspect insofar as the major player remained a silent partner in this hullabaloo ~ no mention of PA-C in anything I saw or heard, only headlines for UCL inevitably assumed an impeccably impartial invigilator supplying services to the community in the best traditions of academic ambivalence. Well, and unusually for me, I bothered to download the report itself ~ not so much because I intended to play Mickeyís Marlow (Spillane that is) but simply to see what the numbers looked like before and during treatment, looking beyond the post-operative pap that was published. Iíll get back to that later but bigger by far than the suspect stats was the suspect sourcing of this stuff. Itís a DfT funded thing remember but turned out it entailed an unholy alliance of inadequates drawn from dubious dregs of vested interests ~ suffice to say that behind the politically prettified Partnerships parcelling were lurking such unsavouries from across the supply chain.
Inevitably as anchors were Local Authorities whose track-records as seminal experts have seen ludicrously large lootings for lining and laning and humping and hashing that one inevitably is tempted to wonder whether / what part kick-back played in all these easy-money excesses, invariably renewed and extended annually whatever the budget burden whilst roads have got ever more rundown for want of attention that used to be routine but now is only a rarity. Indeed increasingly in recent times doing anything at all has been dictated more by fear of prosecution for contributory negligence to damage or injury than by any sense of duty to supply in return for whatís always been obligatorily prepaid as taxation on account. My own experience exemplifies incompetent inadequacy manifested in the uniquely renowned fiasco wherein one-inch of one-degree snow gridlocked an entire city for upwards of 10 hours earlier this year, amusingly just a day after the city expert appeared on local telly to tell everyone the weather was nothing to worry about because his fancy (ie exorbitantly expensive) computerised thermometers ensured the right things would be done in the right places at the right times! If you donít know / canít guess where it was and then google it (ďsnow gridlocked city uk midlandsĒ) for an avalanche of embarrassing entries!
Anyway my ire at not so much as even an apologetic hint from the mayor (too busy by far Iím sure ~ indeed deposed since I drafted this!), merely excuses alleging exceptional ice (at never below one degree under?!), has just been compounded by a threat of punishment to follow should I fail to trim my tree overhanging the pavement by 6Ē less than the regulatory clearance of 8í6Ē would you believe when 6í6Ē suffices for domestic doorways. Staggering isnít it with all that should be done to make things better money can be wasted chasing me to lop my leaves which were hardly a hazard to anyone, at least anyone not in desperate need of medial attention for extreme gigantism. What a tasty irony, then, taking snapshots of half a dozen council trees below my waist (and Iím a pygmy) and all within a few minutes walking from my front door, not to mention many more below my head height. Uhm, I always wondered what these idiots did instead of doing what theyíre paid for and now I know it really is nothing worthwhile, thatís for sure!
Anyway, after that aside aiding me in setting my scene, the main point is that when I got the infamous report it turned out the Partnerships had appointed PA-C to do the legwork yet PA-C had been invisible in all the ritualised triumphal trumpeting that accompanied its dissemination, as ever nowadays with London Luvvies so embroiled into the media machinery. The report however was topped and tailed with oodles of PA-C pap on how good they are at everything, pretty much as I would have expected in anything theyíre associated with. So why such media modesty? Moreover why did the modesty extend to PA-Cís website whose searcher even failed to retrieve anything on he story of the week, never mind its absence from their front page which is where Iíd expected to find it bannered. Well one trip googling ďPA-C speed camerasĒ extracted an avalanche of entries that sufficed to reveal something I hadnít expected ~ namely, that awkward questions have been asked in high places (even to the House of Lords) about allegedly vested / conflicted interests in this arena ~ Iíll say no more here so youíll have to look for yourself if youíre intrigued.
A big puzzle for me has been the lack of media attention to these angles ~ with the press pack baying for Beckhamís blood a few weeks ago surely they should sniffed out this juicy jar? My money is on the London Luvvies not wanting their own little anti-auto feeding frenzy spoiled by smelly suspicions as to how PA-C with UCLís help managed to pull 100 intact chicks out of the pan of 2000 or so sterile scrambled eggs that they started with and Bayesianly bad ones at that, substituting a twice thrown tetrahedral dice with a single shot dihedral one. Iíll say no more on this than was said in my earlier meldrewism ~ well except that UCL donít exactly smell virginally sweet smell either, not with a track record as long as both your arms in so-called traffic management matters that are all inhibitory so far as can be seen in skimming their websites.
So there it is, then, percy public paid to have this exercise conducted by vested interests and to have it evaluated by their fellow-travellers with not so much as by-your-leave for commonsense clarity never mind sympathy for the 30M silently motoring majority nor the 1-3M camera criminalized community. As if that wasnít enough we even had to endure the Partnershipsí Principal polemically pontificating puritanically that anyone denying the findings would have bloodied hands ~ itís absolutely astonishing we have all stayed so silent whilst our long held societal stoicism has been so systematically stifled by arrogant apparatchiks paid from percy publicís purse and all the while aided by feely-touchy-greeny-luvvy layabouts ironically milking money from same central source courtesy of good old GB generosity shelling out on the so-called good causes championed by these charlatans.
Anyway, thatís enough question marks about context of this catalogue so what about itís content? Well, I only skimmed it because itís both deadheaded and immensely overstretched ~ in excess of 100 prettified pages mostly on a scale from pap to pulp (fiction?). However apart from numbers (more below), one feature that flew out was the case for cameras claimed on cost-benefit balance. From memory in round terms, it claimed £200M benefit accrued from claiming 100 saved lives and 4000 reduced injuries. No idea how much the perpetrators were paid for doing that bit but you can get there in one line by assigning £1000K per death, £100K per serious, £10K per slight and adopting rule of thumb ratios 6:1 for slight, serious: death such that 6 times 6 times 100 gives 4000 or so and each unit of 1 death plus 6 serious plus 36 slight is valued at £2M and 100 units gives £200M.
Okay so £200M is plausible as an actuarial association but of course itís a falsified attribution in respect of actuality for public sector costs insofar as the death component is overwhelmingly a private sector liability for insurers as indeed in practice is also some fraction of the serious component. For present point-scoring then we might as well assign all of the distortion into the death figure and so immediately halve the notional national benefit of cameras from £200M to £100M ~ and that without querying the appropriateness of actuarialities to actualities other than comment they are invariably high-sided. This thing alone collapses any case for supposing there is credence in the widely lauded impartiality of these people predisposed by vested interest to finding in favour of cameras, thereby also reinforcing fears that the media also have been manipulated as dissemination drivers because the background contra case was always there at the touch of a google button!
Anyway, the clowns introduced cost-benefit so letís poke a little deeper into that pit. 30M people paying premiums for obligatory cover quite conceivably contribute around £10Bpa of which £7Bpa would be actuarially associated with 3500 deaths and pro rata injuries except they donít pay for injuries (at least not if you believe that bit of the rabid report) but then thatís pretty much balanced by perhaps an average of £1Kpa on perhaps 3Mpa incident claims so it still leaves £3Bpa as plausible guestimate of what would be a pretty reasonable 30% nominal gross margin. Moreover if injury costs were bundled onto private side of this fence then motorists could probably expect premiums to be increased by 30% or so. However these sums are small beer compared with motoring money pinched for the public purse ~ road tax £100pa say) is an almost trivial element coming in at £3Bpa compared with fuel tax ~ 75%+VAT doubles the pump price so 50% of £4pg and 250gpa (10Kmpa) is £500pa each or £15Bpa! Ö none of it really hypothecated to greenhouse gremlins so thank goodness for that small mercy at least!
That still leaves the highways elements of national and local taxes, the latter perhaps £50pa or 10% of perhaps £500pa as 30M motorist average and former must surely make massively more than matching contribution as £50pa would be merely 1% of a notional £5Kpa (25% of £20Kpa national average taxable earnings). Even so thatís still another £100pa each or £3Bpa, a number that could probably be doubled and possibly much more if one wanted to pejoratively promote that case even without resorting to exaggerations akin to those adopted by the assessors. Okay so a wrapped up figure on the public side of the fence would be well over £20Bpa, maybe more like £30Bpa to be compared with the £3Bpa or so we actuarially inferred (in line with the reportís per capita basis) for public costs of injuries not met from insurance.
In fact as Iím keying this I just noticed the advert ďOK Mr DarlingÖĒ which asserts only 20% of road tax is actually spent on roads so even if we revise this component up from 3 to 5 in above guestimates (hauliers pay much more, maybe 1K and private pay 125 not the 100 used above) that would mean only about £1Bpa spent on roads, seriously peanuts against the £5B or so costs inflicted by accidents and no more than equivalent to hazard eradication that might well reduce deaths etc by 20%. In fact this bit shows more than anything so far just how cynical our correctness culture has become in contriving storms of so-called public concern from so-called public partnerships but in reality is merely tinkering with inexpensive irrelevances like cameras which in any case are not just self-financing but actually covert cash-cows for cowboys coppers and their companion claptrappers keen to create a climate of uncapped criminalization in pursuit of profit. Just how low will these characters go in what was once the worthy name of public service but is now manifestly no more than grubby gambling for private profit and personal promotion. Itís worth remarking here that the Darling advert called for one-lane widening of all major motorways, perhaps a few £10Mpm or a few £10B for the entire network, say £5Bpa tops over the period of policy planning against the £30Bpa revenues wrenched from the pockets of persecuted payers.
Enough of all that at least for here and now ~ so having decimated the rabid report on its money manipulation and set that stuff in its correct context letís do the same for its proverbial porkies playing death dice. In fact Paul Smith already described his own destruction within a day of the reportís appearance, citing a stats specialistís detailed demonstration of how regressive distortion dominated their determination. In fact thereís not a lot I can add on this aspect beyond what I jotted down whilst skimming the stuff ~ at least not a lot when I drafted this thing but Iíve now done a pretty good destruction job of my own. In particular Smithís man showed how prior subset selection predisposed what they wanted as their positive position that ďcameras workĒ, inevitably so if only from frailty exacerbated by greed to get more money from duplicating the same stories rather than having to start from scratch on something completely different ~ thereby losing time doing nothing to enhance professional progression whilst hawking for prospective punters in alternative arenas.
Tempted to say thatís also a regressive distortion in its most perniciously primitive guise and alarmingly prevalent in present era of performance progression. Getting bonus brownies for delivering desired results played no part in sound science until the accession of apparatchiks and their bean baggage, nowadays sadly for science making all the moves in moronically manipulative machinery that has minced meritocracy into mundane mash. Single-sided sampling was never peer-permitted other than as a comparator in two-sided sampling, for example in discrimination of asymmetries such as in turbulence so as to distinguish the complementary roles of burst and sweep events in scavenging of mass, momentum and heat by wall friction ~ I canít imagine anyone has ever been so silly as to sample only one set and reject the other as an irrelevant shadow ~ they are companions, two sides of the same coin just as the full datasets on cameras should have been treated even-handedly as basis for worthiness of discriminatory criteria and judgement on plausibility of outcome. Extraordinarily silly to have set aside some and just forget about them ~ indeed, it beggars belief that this could have happened even with any self-respecting first year research student, never mind campus careerists and their companion consultants.
Sad to say that despite the devastating destruction delivered by Paul Smithís academic adviser, there has since been inevitable closing of campus ranks at UCL whereby their own specialist statistician conceded faults but only by managing to muddy matters in mixing his expertise with opinion favouring cameras absolutely everywhere ~ and not so much as pause for breath on the implied impact for massively increased numbers of criminalized innocents! Well it would have beggared my belief if offence triggering was to be held at its present punitive threshold (ACPO note is clamouring for increased stringency but then they would, wouldnít they being principal winners from cameras as cash cows) but if the threshold was to be raised to some sensible set-point as discriminator of really rampant risk-taking then cameras might just begin to serve some functional purpose, indeed even be boosted by more monitoring for extreme excursions.
Certainly APCOís Principal on this thing is potty ~ just listen to BBCís R4 Today website recording of his airtime politicking ~ whoever heard of Chief Constables campaigning in earlier eras when commonsense courtesy commanded humility from such servants supposedly serving percy public. APCO was silly allowing its name to be exploited by their Principalís call for thresholds to be set below half the excesses adopted as standard by most motorists including traffic police and including most who have never been involved in any injury incidents during lifetimes of motoring ~ but then silliness is sadly now also a marker for qualities deemed desirable by apparatchiks and luvvies who choose these characters, like the Partnershipsí plonker now famously fatuous for his banner grabbing ďbloodied handsĒ jibe at campaigners forlornly searching for some semblance of sensibilities anywhere in this arena.
Thresholding leads on neatly to my penultimate point about the rabid report, specifically absolute absence of endeavour to engage with determinism available for adoption from many decades of ground truth data delivered as insurance claim records. I donít have any numbers (Iím sure they have been regurgitated ad nauseam but not in the rabid report) but I have proffered profiles in accordance with experience and indicating implications for policies that at least donít fly in the face of commonsense like so much of what we have to endure nowadays. My picture portrayed in an earlier meldrewism plausibly smoothed the stats to show just how nigh impossible it is to extract any reliable reading from such a sparse set. Continuing in similar style, we could conjecture a linear decline in accident incidence with age over say 60 years from 20, accompanied by an assumption that 1/3rd of all motorists are women and that women have half as much chance of an incident as men. To keep things simple Iíll suggest the age dependence for men declines from 6 units (arbitrary scale) in their first driving decade to 1 unit in their final decade ~ spanning from the first group commencing say somewhere between ages 15 and 20 to the final one terminating somewhere between 75 and 80, six in all as suggested. Not right in detail of course but unlikely to be unacceptably flawed as crude approximation and in any case valuable as a simple platform from which some guestmates can be gauged without hindrance from the mush that always accompanies real data. Okay this is so simple we can extract some guidance without resorting even to a spreadsheet because linear profiles superpose also as averages. As decadal age blocks, incident incidences for men appear as ľ of 22,18,14,10,6,2 and half these figures for women, in all then as ĺ of 11,9,7,5,3.1 With premiums going pro rata with claims this looks rather flatter than reality (would a 20-year old lad really pay only twice what his 50-year old father pays, all else being equal?) although it seems pretty much aligned with over 50s Saga-ism insofar as 5+3+1=9 is ľ of total 36, not so far removed from the kinds of discounts that avalanche into our letterboxes nowadays. Iím not going to try incorporating no claims bonuses but you can see how they must be derived relating maturity age to chronological age either way by experientially defined factors.
As another simple indicator the two lowest age groups comprise 5/9th (over half) of the total and if split 2:1 men: women it would means men under 40 contribute nearly 40% of total incidents over all ages and for both sexes. Whilst the number canít be assigned any confidence band on this basis it doesnít exactly conflict with everyday experience of associating elevated accidental risk of with aggressive driving style ~ and thatís my purpose here, to suggest that in correlating anything with anything in this arena you start with whatís known (age dependence reflected in insurance premiums) to platform behavioural associations having at least some prima facie good reason for believing may be causally connected rather than randomly regressed. Continuous real-time monitoring of behaviour could be done and cheaply but that wouldnít make money for cowboys cops and robbers ~ indeed the cost could even be covered by discount incentives from insurers benefiting from access to individual characterisations as basis for premiums rather than merely broad age group foresight and individual claim record hindsight. Even so, only having access to age is not so bad as an overall indicator although of course itís unfair on those whose maturity exceeds their chronology.
I made a meal of it because I think it links neatly to the notion that younger drivers drive faster until theyíve experienced firsthand fear of fatality ~ arguably it takes a near death experience or two to help cap testosterone trips taking things over the limit like the first few times over 100 on a motorway to slick switching on urban roads in relief of the unutterable tedium tootling along lined up with boring old farts. Not even a hint of recognition for such statements of the obvious in the rabid report but being on speed, style should manifestly have been material to the matter. It was this sort of stuff that took me toward conjecturing a correlation for age-dependent acceptability of excess declining from excitement through impatience to discomfort. Experience tells me that very few drivers of either sex in any age group are troubled by excess 10mph over a 40mph limit, this including traffic cops who traditionally policed speed at firsthand with rules of thumb that complied with commonsense ~ indeed didnít baulk at 10mph excess on suitably straight pedestrian-free urban ring roads, often with speed guns set at +10mph for cautioning and +15mph for ticketing, neither triggering resentment in my experience unless for some reason the limits werenít as clearly marked as deserved for fair treatment. Nowadays of course it almost always feels like an ambush injustice because it often / usually is and done intending to maximise money to justify expenditure and keep the bean baggers happy! Anyway, itís my feeling that younger men find excess 10mph unendurably tepid so feel quite uninhibited about stretching it to 15mph or even 20mph. In a 40-limit the former is seldom problematic in terms of emergency reaction but the latter seems crazy to this old fart or rather should say now seems crazy because Iím pretty sure it didnít when I was a young tearaway in my first motor!
So finally Iím there (as subsequently captured and cartooned medlrewismically) ~ so far as perception is concerned itís only all about response relative to the road, not an arbitrary absolute imposed by some anonymous apparatchik covertly cameraed and webbed, for whom the height of excitement is probably peeking at porno pages when no-one is watching! I did an earlier medlrewism on this thing considered as exposure in emergencies to make pressure points that limits logically should be vehicle dependent (trivial extension for auto-policing) whereas here I had in mind more the hazardous irritation caused by distraction on what seems like endlessly surprising speed checks dictated by wretched robots that may or may not be watching and never quite sure what threshold setting their mean-minded masters have used for throwing the switch that steals your money and marks you up another notch toward the red card! Itís appalling psychology as anyone who isnít an apparatchik would attest if only they were given a chance thatís usually denied nowadays at least outside that motley mob of thinkandlookalike london luvvies.
Anyhow, itís a trivial matter to see that eliminating 10mph excess over 30mph takes a second or so at comfortable 1/3g deceleration and this is pretty much comparable with attention response time from first sighting off camera road marks so it may well be interference (in a scientific sense) between the two that exacerbates the irritation although itís definitely amplified by young tyros slamming on g+ brakes 20 cars up the line! To some extent these facets can be reflected pseudo scientifically in so-called kinematic migration models of the kind that I have dabbled in since nearly thirty years ago in connection with the flowologies of multiphase mixtures. Iím still hobbying this extension angle to my cartooning with a view to a few final meldrewismic moanings on this motoring miasma so watch my space if you can bear my brutalities!