Thought for the day - 19/08/2013 - Clifford Longley
Research shows that the average British motorist rates himself as better than average, which is mathematically impossible when you think about it but does contain a surprising grain of truth. The World Health Organisation tells us that on a global league table measured by people killed per thousand head of population, the country that comes out top, the world champion of safe driving, is Great Britain. That's something to celebrate, or even gloat about next time you're abroad. The fatality rate is half that of France, and only a third of that in Italy.
It puts into context the recent controversy about the extra powers the police have been given to issue fixed penalty fines to drivers who drive without consideration for other road users. I was struck by the reaction of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, who said giving the police these powers was all very well, but what really mattered was driver education. If the police just went around issuing spot fines for every technical infringement, the Institute said, that would not make the roads any safer.
That comment perfectly illustrates the difference between the three main systems of ethics in Western thought. There is consequentialism, which in motoring terms means not causing injury or damage by having accidents; there is deontological ethics, which in this case means obeying the law whether it makes sense or not because that's our moral duty; and there is virtue ethics, which puts the emphasis on acquiring the right habits and skills to be a good driver...
Available since: Mon 19 Aug 2013
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