Accidents will happen?

My mind has been bothered by road safety issues in Jamaica for a while. I noticed headlines last week that showed an increase in road traffic deaths in 2014 over 2013 (12 to 10, as of mid-January). What struck me was a certain steadiness in the figure, despite official desires for the number to be lower (240 was the target last year, and the total was 304). car accidentJamaica’s road infrastructure, car ownership and daily activity patterns don’t change that much, so it would seem a difficult thing to see the number of accidents fall dramatically. That would imply a need for some major change in what goes on regularly in the island.

On any given day, we can see many forms of risky behaviour on the road. I’ll list a few activities I saw over the past few days just from random observations, with the regret that I could not take a picture of them all.

  • Boy (about 12 years old) standing on window frame of SUV, so that he was outside the vehicle as it was being driven by a much older man
  • Man riding motor cycle, clad in vest and baseball cap
  • Couple on motor cycle, with driver wearing helmet, while passenger wore swim suit and no helmet
  • Taxi overloaded: driver with no seat belt; passengers without seat belts; children on laps; children in front of vehicle
  • Driver with child on lap; neither strapped in
  • People running across busy roads without using designated crossings
  • Groups of school children running across roads in front of school to catch public bus; trying to urge oncoming traffic to stop
  • Vehicles stopping to let out passengers, without signalling or with little regard to position on road (sometimes blocking sight lines for passing or oncoming traffic)
  • Children playing on sidewalk, with no regard for fact that they were occasionally dashing into the road
  • Goats crossing a busy road

This is daily life on this little island.

What struck me about what I witnessed was that many of these apparently risky activities are not in play when accidents happen or lives are lost.

Few accidents happen during the heavily congested periods of rush hour. Vehicles can only move at relatively slow speeds. High speed is a major contributor to accidents. Traffic jams help.

Many, if not most, accidents in Jamaica occur because of speeding vehicles that run out of control and collide with other vehicles or pedestrians. ‘Overtaking truck collides with minibus, would be a familiar incident’.

We know that many deaths occur because a victim is unprotected, but the victims are not always the driver/rider or passenger, but a pedestrian. Safety belts would help some, but have also not helped victims in some instances (see testimonial).

Most traffic victims are young male drivers and pedestrians (30 percent of all fatalities)–of which, many are children.

Police department data (used in the Highway 2000 study) on causes of road accidents showed the following:

  • Error of Judgement/Negligence (15%)
  • Improper Overtaking (9%)
  • Following Too Closely (9%)
  • Turning without Due Care (8%)
  • Crossing Heedlessly (8%)
  • Losing control & excessive speed (7% each)

We could call that ‘bad driving’ in most cases. The impact of poor road conditions, or weather does not factor in that highly.

Education and signposts are important parts of the official fight against the number of road accidents. But, as my list above showed, what people need to learn goes to the core of how they see the life they lead.

Safety tips are clear and they have a good history of helping to reduce accidents. But, for all the signs about wearing helmets and buckling up, we have a nation that tends to not bother with that stuff. That has to change. We’re good at wailing about the deaths, but seem to be slow to take to heart the lessons. It’s interesting that the practices are as blatantly bad in so-called ‘upscale areas’ as in so-called poorer areas. It’s a national problem.

Pedestrian crossings are lacking and need to be increased. Proposals exist to increase these around schools. That said, wherever you see crossings, you’ll also see people crossing anyway they wish.

We have a society that is very lax when accepting rules. As regards road use, this has some serious consequences:

The notion of drinking and not driving is not one that people take that seriously. That said, official data show only 1 percent of accidents were due to driving under the influence (and we should include drugs).

As already noted, seat belt use is not seen as a must. Even scarier, is the fact that people seem to think that babies and young children can miraculously save themselves in accidents, so are often unharnessed in cars.

Head safety gear is not seen as a must by many riders. Some wear head-gear that is just impromptu or not really on the head as protection–the funniest I’ve seen is the Rasta with a helmet perched on his tam, like a football. Jah live!

But, we also have to understand that we have a society that lacks many of the support elements that go with a relatively high level of car ownership per capita (Jamaica ranks 73rd of 166 countries).

Many roads are single lane, raising risks that come with the need to overtake and judging that at speed. Highway 2000 should have reduced the frequency of accidents as it reduced the amount of traffic sharing road space with pedestrians and provided separate lanes in which traffic flows in opposite directions. But, the island is not filled with four-lane highways.

The island does not have enough overheard crossings to help people where communities have been cut in two by road developments–some are there, but not enough. People love short cuts and also love to do what they’ve done in the past.

Although Jamaica has terrible road conditions, bad roads are not often the proximate cause of most accidents. Jamaica has many hilly or mountainous roads, but they are not often the location of bad accidents. Bad or difficult road conditions tend to result in relatively more care and lower driving speed.

But, improving surface roads could reduce many accidents, at about the same rate as widening roads.

In rural areas, roads often lack sidewalks. In urban areas, more sidewalks exist, but many areas are without. So, people and car often mix in a lethal way. People walk a great deal and pedestrian interaction with traffic is high.

Jamaicans love to talk and text on cell phones while driving. Although data do not show this to be a proximate cause in many accidents, new legislation is proposed to deal with that. It’s part of a pattern of lax behaviour.

Whatever is being done in schools or workplaces is not enough to change what people do as a matter of routine. Whatever adverts are made to instruct are not having enough impact on what people do. Whenever transgressions occur, it is too easy for them to be ignored by police. What would one expect from a force that includes motorbike officers who use their phones while riding?

Our roads are dangerous. On top of the deaths, we have a large number of injuries– aAbout 2000.

Like the high number of murders, we are in danger of seeing the road accidents as part of an intractable problem that defies solution. However, unlike crime, I think what people need to do to overcome this problem is far simpler.

Those people who jump into their cars and just let themselves and their children ride along without belts need to understand what they are doing by not taking the simple safety step. It goes the same way with driving, though, it’s harder to judge what bad decisions are being taken as people hurry (needlessly, in many cases) to their destinations.

I’m sensitive to the messages, but are most people totally untouched? The carnage has become common place. It’s too easy to think that it wont happen. That action needed is personal, but as with many things about behaviour, it often takes a personal tragedy to force people to change. But, that’s always an expensive way to learn.

Feeling listless

Santa-listSomething about the human condition is improved by listing things. Lists help us organize, and humans like to do that–even if they are not very good at it. As the year-end approaches, the lists appear with greater speed. “The best…”, “The worst…”, “The most…”, “The least…”. If you want to annoy someone, put out a list with a superlative: each us will have our preferences and they become more important when someone thinks they can trump your choices. I think they also tell me about a certain desire to be superior, on the part of the lister–sort of, “I know better than you…”, which really can wrankle. So, what, if you’ve been to some places that you think are the best? If it doesn’t include my favourites, then I’m not going to be impressed. I had such a feeling yesterday, when I read a list of ‘best food found abroad’: it included nothing Jamaican or Caribbean. “Blasted American parochialism” was the expression that went through my head as I took out my hatchet hand. What about jerk food, or escoveitch? What about guava duff? Enough of them. I moved on. I yanked the Yankee.

So, can we resist that listing feeling? I think so. If I didn’t object to lists, I’d suggest making a resolution.

Listing, like forecasting, runs the big risk of being wrong very soon. I’ve done away with forecasting as a serious exercise, and I am doing all I can to avoid that listing feeling.

I don’t need post-it notes reminding me of things ‘to do’. If they are important enough, they will be done. If they’re not done, I don’t want to feel angst about things on the list that were not done. Listing them wont raise their priority in my mind. I don’t need to craft out my day in lines to tell me what the hours mean in terms of actions: that would ruin the fun of just drifting off and doing something different. That feeling may be stronger now that I live somewhere that nature has blessed with great weather most days. I don’t need to tie a knot in my hankie to remember to pick up my daughter from school–she’s so precious, that I can’t imagine forgetting her 🙂 If I were prone to hanging around coffee shops and yacking endlessly on my phone, I might need a reminder to get off the blower and attend to something important. But, I’ve not fallen into that way of life yet.

Lists are the front end of anal-retention. I can visualise that rear-end tightening and loosening as the items are piled onto the paper. Everything all neat and proper. I think of The twelve days of Christmas12days differently when I see it as a list. Similarly, the story of Noah: two turtle doves, check; two hairy elephants, check…

I understand that lists can be comforting, and the anal aspect of that may be less. But, what is comforting for some can also be enraging for others. When someone publishes a list of people murdered in Jamaica, it evokes both sympathy and rage. The same feeling comes when I read a list of casualties from another road accident on Jamaica’s roads. But, the big “Why?” has not been removed by the list; it’s become bigger.

I wonder if my feeling about lists would change if I knew or suspected that they were active. Imagine, seeing a list of corrupt public officials, and somehow having the list constantly updated, like the NASDAQ board in Times Square, New York. I think I would feel different if I could see names rolling in front of me as another bribe was handed over. 0421-nasdaq_full_600

But, if that were possible, then the problem is hardly likely to persist. Or, am I being naive? Think about it (names are random and imaginary):

  1. Cedric Palmer, J$5000; road project, May Pen.
  2. Hyacinth McPherson, J$18,000; school supplies, Yallahs.
  3. Walter Perkins, J$90,000; Customs, Port of Kingston.

You could only wonder what reception they would get when they got home or back to their offices, and the phone was ringing like it wanted to jump off the hook. Walking into the house for dinner would be a very interesting experience: “Why no kiss, honey?” would be met with “Honey? You mean money!”

I remember working on tax evasion problems in a Baltic country, while at the IMF. The head of tax administration in the country had the idea of publishing the names and amounts of those who were guilty of the offense. Well, whereas he used to be greeted at some premises with treats and actual phyical violence when trying to serve notices about delinquent payments, he now found his office awash with people who couldn’t pay fast enough. I know that publishing lists of delinquent tax payers has been tried in Jamaica, and wonder what effect it is having. It’s one thing to have a list of ‘good and great’, and something else to have lists of reprobates: most wanted for scofflaw.

Lists can be self-serving, feel goodie things, even though this can simply be implicit. Jamaica’s prime minister has been feeling the wrath of lists–though, she says that she does not follow news media (”I listen to positive criticism and I don’t listen to the negative ones , I don’t even watch the television, I let my husband watch and he tells me what is going on.”…”I have a minister in charge, he will respond to your query.”) Her listing of her style opened her up to a wave of understandable criticism. Since, a good number of people have made it known that they feel that she travels too much–they’ve listed her foreign trips and found them excessive in some sense–their frequency, the size of the entourage, etc. (lists within lists). Some have no real issue with the number of trips but want an accounting of what was achieved–a list, if ever there was one. Why would such a thing be difficult? Well, it isn’t, so when it’s not done, people start to list reasons why the information is not shared–and the reasons don’t come out looking good. What is wrong with transparency? Write your list of reasons and send them to the prime minister’s office.

Humans feel that lists somehow lessen problems. I’ve never seen an animal make a list, though, having said that I will now look more carefully at the antics of my wife’s and daughter’s Shitzu. Is he really making lists while he’s asleep at my feet? That might explain the constant grunting and whimpering that I hear. “How many times can I chase that golf ball? How many socks can I take from the laundry room?” Clearly, he’s troubled that he has so much to do and so little time on his paws. I don’t mind being different, so hear me when I say “The lists make me more worried, if they suggest that they somehow represent an end in themselves.” I think I will assume the sleeping dog lies contentedly because he’s not got a single list in his mind.

On that note, I’m going to head off to the gym and do some exercise. That’s one thing to check off a list that I’ve not made today.

Have a blessed New Year.

Christmas is here…well, nearly

“Rip van Winkle, wake up!”

The last few days of Tessannetasia have been like a 20-year sleep, allowing me to forget about the other Jamaica that was there before I looked the other way and tuned into The Voice for two straight nights. Now, I have to get back to what some would prefer us to focus on all the time–“serious news”, they call it. So, what did I let myself lost sight in Jamaica?

  • Crime, especially murders (some 1,100 and counting).
  • Road accidents (300 deaths for the year is quickly approaching).
  • Minimum wage increase (from $5,000 to $5,600 per 40-hour work week, as of Monday, January 6, 2014. Also, effective January 6, the minimum wage for industrial security guards, will be increased from $7,320.40 to $8,198.80 per 40-hour week–a 12 per cent increase, during a period when inflation has risen about 18 percent). IMF programme (US$30.8 million disbursed to Jamaica).
  • The PM’s travel schedule (with or without fatuous justifications from PNP politicians). I heard that she gave an interview to a local TV channel, so her relative silence with regard to the local media is no longer an issue: Jamaicans love nine-day wonders.
  • Vybz Kartel’s trial goes on. What’s new?
  • The Cuban light bulb scandal goes on. What’s newer?
  • Bad roads (Thank you Tessanne for making their “worst” condition an international issue :-)). Thank you Ministry of Works for taking the point.
  • Trinidad (Who’s still boycotting?). Their central bank just downgraded its growth forecast from 2.5 percent to 1.5 percent for 2013. Surely not because of you know what?
  • West Indies cricket (Can they win a match?).
  • Who is Clovis ridiculing?
  • The Jamaican dollar’s continuing decline.

And beyond our shores?

  • Santa “is white” (I heard it on FoxNews, so it must be true). I guess that means Megyn Kelly believes he’s real (he is a man?).
  • Screen Shot 2013-12-20 at 5.39.51 AMThe Chinese are on the Moon. What does that mean for its environment and possible development options. Intergalactic logistic hub up there?
  • The UK has been battered by “severe weather”, with wind gusting at over 70 miles per hour. So severe that football matches have had to be abandoned or suspended mid-kick for weird things like hailstorms. What’s the world coming to?

Some people have taken the whole Tessanne-winning thing and seen it as a glimmer of hope in an otherwise dark time. How could they be so crass? Of course, what we all need is more despair and signs of insensitivity towards each other. We all need a good dose of more grief. Who has time to smile at someone’s wonderful achievements when they could be poring over the obituaries of persons’ lives snubbed out callously?

Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat/Please do put a penny in the old man’s hat/If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do/If you haven’t got a ha’penny, then God bless you!

The good, the bad, and the ugly (September 29)

Good
Tessanne Chin and bread and butter 🙂 taking the world by storm on NBC’s The Voice.

Bad
The JPS Foundation will be investing approximately J$2 million (US$20,000) to provide York Town Basic School, in Clarendon, with electricity, as part of the Foundation’s model school initiative. A Jamaican school that has been in operation for 73 years, WITHOUT ELECTRICITY! This is an insult to everyone of the teachers and students who have had to function at that school. INEXCUSABLE in a country that has 12 hours of sunshine or daylight almost very day of the year, or good wind almost every day.

Ugly
No doubt, the horrific bus crash in Manchester, Jamaica, which took the lives of four students from Holmwood Technical High School. So many pieces of loose action or inaction underlie this tragedy.

Fifth grader in a romper suit: my Jamaica

Imagine that the country in which you live were a child. Replace the trappings of childhood, and put in their place the laws and actions of nation states. What would you get? Mother P is always interested in her children’s progress.

Chief Justice, pookums, do you have the laws in place to deal with reckless driving on the roads?
“Yes, Momma. Yes, Prime Minister. I passed the Road Traffic Act, which sets limits for driver qualifications, road speed, vehicle licensing, penalties for infractions, and more.”
Why then did the news report a bus carrying children crashed killing four of them, and the driver was speeding, driving recklessly, and had over 100 traffic infractions?
“Good question, PM.”
Pookie? Come here! I want to hear what you have to say about the basement buses….

First-born children may be too uppity, so Momma looks to one of her younger brood.

Oh, goodie. Here comes my bright button education minister. I really want to check something with him before I go off to discuss how my country is doing compared to those in North America. I need to show them that we can do more than run fast, dance slowly, and drink Red Stripe.

Ronnie, honey! Tell me that all of our schools are as good as in America. Just a simple yes will do.

Strangely, the minister scratches the ground like a chicken looking for corn.
“Well, not quite, PM. We have a few shortages in equipment. Some of our schools don’t have enough chairs or tables for the teachers or students.”
The PM strokes her bangs.
In my Jumayka?
“We also have a few schools which don’t have any electricity, and they’ve always been that way.”
Ronnie, dearest. I know you revere tradition, but that’s a little extreme. You mean they have solar power and windmills to give them light? After all, we have so much sunshine, and I know you’re bright, my sunshine.
The minister now scratches his chin, and his face is reddening.
“We plan to expand technology and use of electronics nationwide.”

Momma P ponders this and her hands are pressing on her temples.
“We have lots of very good students, Momma, passing more exams than letters in their names. That’s something! We also know when brown shoes help studies or when black shoes help studies. We also know that khaki helps the mind focus. Of course, we lock the children out of school if they wear the wrong shoes and let them figure out what to do while their parents are at work. That helps their critical thinking skills. We teach!”
Portia’s bangs are gripped in her tightly clenched hands. Ronnnnniiieeeee!

20130928-072909.jpg“Oh, and don’t forget, we have children who wrote on slates and they will be wizards on iPads. Jamaica to the world?”
Ronnie was heard reciting a verse from Psalm 23 as his kind mother was in the yard finding her favourite broom….

Momma Portia went back inside to fold up some clothes before heading out to work. She caught a glimpse of the apple of her eye, Peter. She could always trust him with the family money. Such a good boy.
Peter, did you count up the shop money?
“Yes, Momma. But, I think Daddy took some to go to buy a flask of rum. Oh, and Miss Ivy asked for some flour but we had none, so I lent her some money. And don’t forget that you asked Ronnie to get new books. So, I gave him the rest.”
So, the money’s counted but we don’t have a cent in the house?
“No, silly mummy. Mr. Grabbe at the bank passed by to look for you and said he would lend us a few dollars till we got back what was owed. Except Daddy’s rum money. Then he called his friend in America to lend us a little bit more because he saw that we had no car and thought buying one would be a good idea. So, we have lots of money!”
Peeta! You will be the death of me.
Peter was just about ready to start shaving and his dimply face began to itch.
“I wonder why Momma sounded so angry,” he said to himself, then went to look for his favourite abacus.

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Kill or be killed

Most of us come close to a life-changing tragedy every day: we are on the roads with motorized vehicles.
image

Jamaica has an awful record of road accidents, with figures running annually near 350, or about 15 deaths per 100,000 people. However, on a worldwide scale, these figures put Jamaica somewhere in the middle of the world (ranked 98th out of 192), with the highest being Namibia (53 per 100,000) and the lowest being Maldives (about 2).

Yesterday, I almost ran down a schoolboy. Ironically, I was on my way to the hospital. I was not driving very fast and the road was not busy or wet. I saw the boy on the street corner, looking to cross, and as I approached the corner, he stepped out, seeming to think I would turn ahead of him. Yikes! I slammed on the brakes just as he was in front of the car. “Sorry,” he said. Thank God, I thought.

When I got to the hospital, I met a family of a bike rider who had been hit by a car. He was in intensive care. They did not know how the accident had occurred, over the weekend, but were going to check with the police.

You often see the evidence of recent accidents on highways and they are often featured in the news, sometimes with very graphic details. I don’t know what constitutes enough advice, but a constant campaign is waged to inform people about better road safety practices. However, people tend to drive and ride motor vehicles fast here. Add to that roads with serious defects–pot holes, unevenness, debris, poor sign posting, etc. (I was driving slowly through a Kingston neighbourhood yesterday when I got to a crossroads and another approaching driver asked if I hadn’t seen the stop sign. I looked around and eventually saw it perched on a wall and covered with the branches of a tree.) Most roads are narrow, and some are very windy. My impression is that most major accidents occur on the straight strips when people think they have better chances of overtaking and bad judgements get made. Speed kills!

Taxi and minibus drivers push too hard on the road. Money! Time! Overcrowded!

I suspect that more deaths than necessary occur because assistance is inadequate. We know that there’s a shortage of ambulances and fire tenders.

Compared to practices in some other islands, drivers tend to wear seat belts, but I’ve often seen passengers without belts. Taxis, often overloaded, are great examples of that, with a back seat sometimes with five passengers and their bags all scrunched up together, plus two on a front seat, and the driver, one hand hanging out of the window with his money.

Most bike riders do not use helmets. Many of the helmets look like army surplus types. Helmets are often perched on a head, tilted back to accommodate a lot of hair (Rasta dreadlocks or braids) or some other headgear, like a baseball cap. Pillion passengers sometimes have helmets while the rider doesn’t. This was the sight yesterday with a schoolboy riding behind an adult. You’ll often see children being carried on a bicycle crossbar, maybe with book bag in lap, and father pedalling in tee shirt, shorts and sandals. After all, this is a tropical island, man.

Pedestrians line many roads and sidewalks are not always available. People saunter and sometimes walk carelessly into roads, like the schoolboy. Animals are often walking along roadways, especially in rural areas, but also in Kingston. Goats are ever present, but sometimes cows are around. Dogs and cats add to the menagerie.

Carelessness and inattentiveness must also play a part. Distracted driving may not be a major culprit, even though Jamaicans are deeply in love with their mobile phones. But, sometimes, there are too many things to watch for. I’ve been driving to the university a lot. Near the entrances, you have a set of signs with too much information about locations; you may read two items but not five or more. I sometimes pass a roundabout with about five exits, and I cannot read the destinations before I enter the circle. I have to make a turn on a road with a blind curve one way and an obstructed view the other. If I’m not very careful, I suddenly see a car approaching as I start to pull out. And so on.

I’m surprised that so few accidents occur when taxis are picking up or dropping off passengers, in their random fashion.

Clearly, the heavy costs of accidents haven’t sunk in. Jamaicans tend to regard life cheaply.

Wheel and come again

Jamaican drivers would be described by many foreigners as ‘reckelss’, ‘dangerous’, ‘Kamikaze’, ‘suicidal’, etc. In other words, when in their presence on a road, you’re taking your life in your hands or better put, you’re putting your life at stake by taking to the roads. Trouble is, you have few alternatives for getting around the island.

Drivers would argue that they take calculated risks, and so accidents will happen. To add to the speed at which people travel in motorized vehicles, you have to add that many people are also using their cell phones. Road accidents take an horrific toll in lives here, and while cell phone use may not be a major culprit, it’s notable the the government is planning to ban cell phone use while driving.

20130827-162105.jpgLegislation has been discussed for several years and is still to be enacted to ban cell phone use and impose large fines for transgressing. This would be under a new Road Traffic Act, the last one dating from 2004.

During the three months since I arrived I’ve seen some stunning examples of phone use while driving, or riding.
*Policeman riding his motorbike with no hands and texting 😮
*Woman driving with both hands on steering wheel but cell phone poised so that she could look at screen while steering.
*Many instances of one-handed driving or riding, with cell phone propped on shoulder and ear, while chatting.

Admittedly, none of these drivers or riders appeared to be driving very badly. I’ve not yet encountered a speeding driver who was also using a cell phone. On the contrary, I’ve often noted the use with the abnormal slowness of the vehicle, perhaps getting key instructions about directions or the last moments of a TV soap opera. That beats the random stopping midway in a road when a driver decides to let out a passenger or pick someone up.

As has been the case in the USA, drivers who are accustomed to certain ways of driving may have a hard time making the change. People habitually use their phones while driving here, and it’s not yet illegal. I see little sign that drivers are weaning themselves off phones.

I’m often calling friends and they answer saying “I’m on my way to…with the kids…” I usually suggest calling back when they’ve reached their destination, but often get “No, man, mi cyan talk.” I’ve still hung onto my modified US behavior, of not answering while driving. I end many of my road trips with missed calls, not that I get many. Or, I check calls when I make a stop for gas or food. If I have a passenger their role is to handle my phone calls or messages: my little daughter knows this well.

But, it’s part of a laissez-faire attitude that may make road use much more dangerous than it needs to be. Data released by the National Road Safety Council indicate that between January 1 and August 27, 2012 in comparison to the same period in 2013, road fatalities have increased from 170 to 194, while crashes have jumped from 148 to 173. These figures represent a 14 per cent and 17 per cent hike in road deaths and road crashes, respectively. The nation has a target to reduce road deaths to 240 within three years.

During 2012, Jamaica recorded 260 road fatalities. This was the first time in 13 years, and the first time since the launch of the four-year-old ‘Save 300 Lives’ campaign that fewer than 300 persons died on the roads. From what I’ve seen and read, most accidents result from speeding, but are made worse by overcrowding vehicles, poor maintenance of vehicles, and poor road conditions, either due to weather or damaged surfaces.

20130827-173052.jpgI’ve seen the results of one major road accident every week I’ve been here so far. In addition, I’ve read, or heard, about at least one accident on a stretch of highway on which I was driving within 24 hours of my being on that stretch. That’s a bit unnerving. I drive with care, I think, but I am also adjusting how I drive and am driving faster and taking more risks than I used to. But, road conditions are different and require different tactics. I know that behind a lot of the speeding and overtaking is the frustration that comes from being saddled with an limited road network and its restrictions on how quickly journeys can be made.