It seems that the Government intend to raise the speed limit on motorways to 80mph in 2013. Their rationale is what you’d expect: the current limit has been untouched for years and vehicle safety has improved dramatically in that time and driving on motorways is ‘safer’ than on other roads.
But in an interview with The Times, Philip Hammond (the
Transport Secretary) said that he believes we operate in a
‘democracy of policing by consent’. He reckons that if 50%
of the population are breaking the law then it’s the law
that needs looking at and not necessarily the law-breakers.
He’s probably got a point because few people stick to 70 or
below on a motorway in my experience.
Predictably road safety campaigns are up in arms about it,
but there again they won’t be happy until we’re all
pedestrians in any case. I have to say that I’m with you
Phil! You’re a refreshing change! Stupid rules, or rules
that are perceived to be stupid, just don’t get followed
and frankly we (as a country) don’t enforce this particular
law very well anyway do we? So why have it?
Phil’s argument got me thinking too. You see at the moment
one of my key strategic priorities at work is to do with
getting people to work safely because they want to and not
because they think if they don’t they’ll get told off by
Although we’ve been making progress on this (which is just
as well as part of my bonus is riding on it!), I wonder now
whether we’ve been coming at it from the wrong angle. Maybe
the biggest lever for change is really in understanding
what safety rules and processes need to be changed.
Arguably if people choose not to the follow some rules and
there hasn’t been an accident surely the rule is a waste of
time. I mean, if the rule was to wear eye protection when
doing X, and people don’t wear the protection when they
should you’d expect there to be more incidents involving
stuff getting into peoples eyes when they do it,
If the rule is really important, why hasn’t it been
enforced harder either by the line manager or
organisationally? After all, organisations don’t make up
rules for the sake of it, most consider them very
carefully. So if it’s that important it should be
Just like if the 70mph speed limit on a motorway is that
important there should be more tickets given out but there
isn’t. Why? Because the police are too busy dealing with
other more serious issues like murder, scum mugging old
ladies and drug dealers.
To help me get my bonus (I have a new drive to pay for)
we’ve set up some focus groups with front line employees to
talk about some of these things (not mugging and drug
dealing, I mean safety rules!), and hopefully we’ll come up
with some stuff that we can ‘police by consent’. In other
words the rules we’re left with are the really important
ones rather than what we might have now: really important
ones and a whole heap of other non-important stuff that we
get upset about when people don’t follow them! And of
course, fewer rules the more chance you’ve got of people
So my challenge to anyone reading this blog is to have a
think of things from a different perspective: are you too
worried about getting people to conform to a rule when what
you should be wondering is, is that the right rule is in
place? Only when, you’ve confirmed that it is, should you
try to change people’s behaviours.
Now I’ve got my head round that, I just need to work out if
Phil is Conservative or a Liberal Democrat – after all I
don’t want to give credit to the wrong party do I, you only
get one vote!
Ah, thank the Lord for Google, he’s a blue!