“War On Motorists” – Who’s actually to blame for pedestrian deaths though?

“War On Motorists” – Who’s actually to blame for pedestrian deaths though?

Yesterday (Saturday 27th January 2024) protestors took to the streets of Birmingham city centre, and lay in Great Charles Queensway to “represent the 25 road deaths that occur in Birmingham every year”.

As reported by the Birmingham Mail:

A road safety campaign group in Birmingham took to a busy city street to stage a ‘die-in’ protest calling for changes after deaths on the city’s roads. Around 50 protestors gathered in Great Charles Street Queensway, opposite the entrance to University College, to voice their concerns after two more pedestrians were killed in the past month.

Former Crossroads actress Charmian Abrahams, 96, who played Mavis Hooper in the Midlands motel soap died after she was struck by a vehicle in Ladywood Road in Harborne on Monday, January 15. And a woman in her 40s was killed after being hit by a car in Witton Lane, near Aston Hall Road, close to Aston Villa’s Villa Park ground, just before 9am on Thursday, December 21.

And in Belgrave Middleway in the city centre a pedestrian was rushed to hospital with life-threatening injuries after being hit by a car at around 6.30pm on Saturday, January 13. The incidents, just days into 2024, prompted Better Streets for Birmingham to hold a protect calling for ‘no more road deaths’.

The protestors staged a ‘die-in’ with around 25 people lying in the road, with chalk outlines drawn around them, while colleagues halted traffic. Children also gathered and chanted for ‘no more road deaths’. The 25-figure is the number of annual deaths on the roads, according to the Birmingham Road Harms Reduction Strategy.

“‘Die-in’ protest held in busy Birmingham street after deaths in city” – Birmingham Mail, 27th January 2024

Just as an aside into the poor quality of local journalism, the above quote is copied verbatim. It was actually “Lordswood Road” in Harborne, not ‘Ladywood Road’, and this group held a ‘protest’ not a ‘protect’.

Now let me make this clear: while I don’t drive and have never owned a car, I am in no way considered “anti-car” or “anti-motorist”. As someone who gets around either as a pedestrian or via public transport, I do agree that there are a lot of dangerous and reckless drivers who have no regards for the Highway Code, and I would like to see fewer of them on the road.

This particular group may appear to have noble intentions on the surface, but in reality they are very much ‘anti-car’ and ‘anti-motorist’ though.

It is always tragic when someone loses their life, but in many of these cases there is important context being missed.

Co-chair of the Better Streets for Birmingham group, Mat MacDonald, gave a speech to those gathered. He called for an end to the ‘senseless loss of life on our city’s roads in collisions’.

He said: “Over the past few weeks, tragedy has struck yet again on our city’s roads. Two women have been killed, whose only misdemeanour was to have the temerity to walk around the areas where they lived.

“Two women who were expected back home and who never returned. And now two sets of families dealing with the unimaginable trauma of such a sudden, unexpected and violent loss. And a whole city who know, any of our loved ones, any of us could be next.”

He said ‘our roads are not safe’ and the ‘systems for removing dangerous drivers from them are not working’. He said the deaths were ‘grimly predictable’.

He went on: “Every single fortnight in Birmingham someone is killed on our roads, while every single day someone is seriously injured.” He said leaders have ‘failed’ to properly tackle the problems streets face.

Mr MacDonald said there were ‘too many cars in Birmingham’ and ‘too many of them are driven dangerously’. He said road safety on many roads was ‘a mere afterthought’. He said: “Car excess, anti-social driving and unsafe roads blight our communities, bring fear, misery and death to every corner of Birmingham.

“But from Harborne to Hay Mills, from Edgbaston to Erdington, we are standing together in anger, in anguish and furious solidarity today, enough is enough.”

Yes, it is true that there are a number of idiots who choose to race around everywhere and ignore the Highway Code. And their actions have resulted in pedestrians being needlessly injured or killed.

It is also true that the word ‘idiot’ is now considered offensive and will result in your comment being ‘deactivated’ on Reach Plc sites for breaching their ‘community guidelines’.


However, in the grand scheme of things, is 25 that great a number? But my big question is how many of these 25 deaths were entirely preventable, if the victims had chosen to cross that particular road in a safer manner?

Too often, we’ll see some story in local news about some pedestrian being run over and either seriously injured or killed.

But “what actually happened” will never get reported, so in most cases it remains a ‘mystery’. All you ever read is ‘pedestrian killed’ or ‘seriously injured’, so most of the time people can only speculate as to what might have ‘actually happened’.

I would hazard a guess that in most of these cases, this pedestrian has been maimed or killed through their own stupid fault, by attempting to cross a busy main road where or when it was clearly not safe to do so.

I see it all the time, particularly in Sparkbrook near where I work, all along the Stratford Road, people are blindly walking out into moving traffic, despite a plethora of controlled pedestrian crossings, or central reservation refuges. And what alarms me most is people walking out into the road either carrying children, or dragging them by their hands.

And then of course there are the ‘smartphone zombies’ who just casually step into the road while staring at their iPhones.

In just the last few months, I have seen news stories about pedestrians being killed after being hit by cars on busy dual carriageways, and my first thoughts are always “what were they doing in the road there?”.

So come on, lets have some truth please, how many of these pedestrian deaths were caused by their own carelessness rather than through any fault of the motorist?

It sounds  to me like this group are going about things the wrong way, maybe they should be doing more to educate and inform pedestrians on how to cross roads more safely, that would be a great way to reduce injuries and deaths.

Maybe it’s time to bring back the Green Cross Code?

Sadly, I think this is just a front or a cover for a more ‘anti-car’ agenda. But the “war on motorists” is just a ‘silly conspiracy theory’, right?

I repeat again, yes, there are a lot of people who drive cars recklessly and dangerously, and they should be caught and taken off our roads permanently. But it is unfair to simply assume that “all drivers are dangerous” based on the actions of a lawless minority. I’d say the majority of motorists do drive carefully and within the law.

However I do feel a lot of pedestrian injuries and fatalities could be reduced if people took more care when crossing roads, and were more aware of what is going on around them.


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