Book Reviews, February 1969, February 1969

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“Road Accidents—Prevent or Punish?”, by J. J. Leeming. 233 pp. 8 3/5 in. x 5 3/5 in. (Cassell and Co. Ltd., 35, Red Lion Square, London, W.C.1. 36S.)

It is refreshing to find a book about road accidents which is very much on the drivers’ side and not anti-motor vehicles. This book is certainly that and one hopes, without much confidence, that it will be compulsory reading in all Police colleges, Council Offices and certainly in all M.o.T. departments. There are chapters by other qualified authorities and the author is a B.SC (OXON), A.C.G.I., F.I.C.E., M.I.STRUCT.E, M.I.MUN.E., and a F.INST.H.E, so let no-one say this is cheap and sensational journalism.

What this book does is to analyse road accidents from every possible angle and with great care and detail, in the pursuit of a solution. It is particularly welcome when the fog disasters on M1 and M10 are causing the Police and the M.o.T. to blame drivers for criminal negligence, as usual. What happens on Motorways in fog is panic—if the slow lane is blocked by a crash following drivers, fearful of being rammed, tend to turn on to the hard shoulder or, if this is already occupied or blocked, to swing into the next available lane, and then, from fear of being rammed, to speed up. The only solution is to close Motorways in times of fog, as airports are closed, so why did these two Motorways aforesaid remain open?

Mr. Marsh has a duty to perform, to read this book and tell us, the road-users, what flaws he finds in it and whether he has learned anything from it on which he proposes to act. He might, for a start, take especial cognisance of the following :—

“Are our laws really calculated to reduce accidents? We have assumed that they are, but the tragedy of the situation is that they most certainly are not.”—Page 5: “Blame for accidents seems to me to be at best irrelevant and at worst actively harmful. My object is to stop accidents and I am not interested in blaming anyone.”—Page 5; “The country is littered with assorted ironmongery meaning little or nothing or much, like Gilbert’s book of despair, and the motorist naturally—and rightly—pays no attention to it.”—Page 93; “Abuse of the drivers is the worst possible type of propaganda . . . Things are said about motorists which, if they were said about Jews or Negroes, would produce an instant prosecution under the Race Relations Act.”— Page 105; “The Law offends our ordinary notions of morality, involves lack of respect for human dignity, and gives rise to a wholly deserved disrespect for the Law itself.”—Page 169; and “Instead of promoting the traffic flow, the Law appears more concerned to hinder it. Road traffic law consists of don’ts rather than dos.”—Page 174.—W. B.

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“The F.I.A. Year Book of Automobile Sport, 1969” is available in this country from PSL, 9, Ely Place, London, E.C. 1., at 25s., or 26s. 6d. if sent by post. It answers many queries about rules governing International motor sport, colours of Nations and F.1 teams, recognised cars, addresses of Team Managers, racing-car makers and tuning equipment manufacturers, and has a calendar of 1969 races and rallies.

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Castrol have published their annual “Achievements” book in a new form this year. Instead of being a simple pictorial record of 1968 Competition successes achieved with Castrol oil, it is an informative full-size book, with a wealth of colour pictures and articles on divers subjects by such journalists as Winstone, Britton, Freud, Young, Davenport, Rous, Taylor, Marriott, Phillips and Jenkinson, and other articles by authorities, like B.M.C.’s Competition Manager and Ford’s Rally Manager, who turned into journalists at Castrol’s behest. Flying, hovercraft, motorcycling, boats, town cars, turbines, dragsters, the Red Arrows and transporters are covered, apart from rallying and motor racing, and there is the GTX Girl, in bikini on 3-litre Ford prototype, a colour picture which would never be permitted in Motor Sport. Curiously, the older cars have been left out. But this edition of “‘Achievements” is well worth having, by all except vintage-car enthusiasts, especially as it is available free, if you mention Motor Sport and write for a copy, to Castrol Limited, Castrol House, Marylebone Road, London, N.W.1.