THE BEST RULE OF THE ROAD
[To the. Editor of the SPECTATOR.] SJR,—There is now being pushed forward in Safety First and County Surveyor Committees, a patchwork plan which if adopted—as it will be if quiet road-users do not wake up—
creates evils, taking years to get right again. It has its excuse in the present stupid want of authoritative guidance at cross-roads, where the tracks of vehicles cross, with no indication of which has precedence. To remedy this the surveyor's plan is to mark the second-class roads by road- signs, leaving cars on these roads all the risk. If there were no alternative the plan should be considered. But it has glaring drawbacks. -
It bestows a new and-death-dealing charter of irresponsibility to titers of main (first-class) roads, who henceforth can shoot past danger points (as all bad drivers do now), with no check except the ineffective speed laws. It reverses the present common law of absolute equality of rights between users of major and minor roads, as repeatedly laid down by High Court Judges. It is absurdly incomplete, for while it deali with drivers emerging from a second-class road to cross a line of traffic, it closes its eyes to another driver five minutes later, who turns out of the main' road, and crosses the same line of traffic to enter the same minor road at the same junction.
The right remedy is legally to enforce (by Act of Parliament if necessary) the present R.A.C. rule recommended for drivers at such junctions, viz., " Give way to any vehicle approaching you from your right," which carries with it the permission, " Take precedence of any vehicle approaching you from your left."
This keeps it a direct issue between the two drivers in danger of collision, who at first glimpse of each other know instantly which has the precedence, without reference to a' road-sign fifty yards to the back of the head which ought to have been seen out of the corner of the eye. It Misses nti, possible instance, and if four cars coincide all are pulled up, until mutual consent send one pair (on the main road) on safely. It ultimately compels all drivers to do as all careful drivers. do now—slow down at cross-roads—where the obligation (enforced at county, coroners' and police courts) is equally liable to occur to any driver. It is not unfair to main-road drivers, for it gives them precedence over vehicles suddenly emerging to turn and cross their track from those dangerous minor roads on the left. Otherwise every driver on every class of road has equal possibilities of having to hold back at danger points.
The two plans are antagonistic, and cannot exist together. Neither deals with crowded traffic in towns, which must still be alleviated by officers on point duty, or the new American block plan. I claim that the makeshift road-sign plan would increase the present unbearable and :death-dealing spirit of irresponsible driving on main roads, while the simple com- pulsory rule would lessen it.—I am, Sir, &e.,