Does Bad Driving on the Road Make You a Criminal?

This may sound like a rhetorical question, as most law-abiding citizens would assume, quite rightfully, that breaking a speed limit, or driving in a dangerous manner is a breach of the law. However, is it a criminal act? Most people would, quite correctly, assume not.

The majority of motoring offences are civil offences rather than criminal offences, and normally result in the issue of a fixed penalty notice, together with licence endorsement points being awarded to the driver.

The more serious motoring offences, such as causing injury or death by dangerous driving cross the boundary, and become criminal offences, carrying custodial sentences upon conviction.

So, does bad driving make you a criminal?

Bad driving does not by definition, make the perpetrator a criminal. However, there are proven scientific links between bad driving and a criminal past.

Generally, a person’s character and behaviour remains constant across a wide range of situations and circumstances. An individual who is habitually willing to break minor regulations will also demonstrate a tendency to disregard more serious laws and regulations.

In a New Zealand analysis of over 1500 drivers convicted of serious traffic offences, it was found that they were highly likely to have a criminal record for violence and anti social behaviour. It would appear then, that those who have accepted violence as an acceptable behaviour, would also continue to exhibit this behaviour when driving.

A study in 1998 focused on over 1000 individuals involved in serious motoring offences such as driving whilst disqualified, driving without insurance, and taking without owners consent. Of these offenders, 56% had six or more previous criminal convictions for offences such as theft, burglary, criminal damage and violence against the person.

Illegal parking is a frequent offence, even amongst inherently honest people. This may be because it is perceived as a very low level of dishonesty. An individual may assess the chance of receiving a parking ticket as an acceptable risk compared to the time and inconvenience of finding an authorised parking space.

However, parking in a space specifically reserved for disabled drivers is regarded differently. Honest and Ethical drivers will rarely park in such bays. Society generally finds this type of illegal parking as particularly contemptible, bearing in mind the status of the users entitled to use such spaces.

A study conducted by the UK’s Home Office Department (Chenery, Henshaw and Pease, 1999) revealed that of the cars parked illegally in disabled bays, 21% warranted immediate police attention. This could be due to the keeper being wanted for a crime, or where the vehicle registration was incorrect for the type and make of vehicle. This compares with less than 2% for those parked legally.

A third of disabled bay abusers were cars registered to keepers who had a criminal record, and in almost half of all cases the vehicle itself had a history of being used to commit traffic violations.

In 18% of disabled parking offences, the vehicle was known or suspected of being used in the commission of crime.

It is reasonable to assume that those who casually park in a space specifically reserved for disabled drivers when legal parking is locally available will also display greater delinquent behaviour in other aspects of their driving behaviour.

Recently, South Yorkshire Police released a report on the subject of Dangerous Driving. Preliminary research indicates that in a fatal road traffic collision, there is a fifty percent chance that the driver responsible holds a criminal record.

The BBC reported that research has also found that Van drivers, and drivers of Trucks involved in a collision are amongst the most likely to have either previous motoring offences (40%) or a criminal record (28%).

It would seem that an individual likely to engage in hazardous activities such as crime is also highly likely to take that acceptance of risk into the driving seat.

So, next time you are pushed for time, and can’t find a parking space, don’t be tempted to park in a disabled bay. Not only will you be denying the convenience of parking to someone who really needs it, but you may find that you are under scrutiny for other reasons!

Is the Carrot Wagging the Horse?

It’s a cold, brisk, yet crystal clear Saturday morning, as I sit here in Costa, with my habitual Java in my hand. I have been people watching for a relaxing half hour, just chilling out, and enjoying the weekend. 
The tidal ebb and flow of pedestrians on East Grinstead’s London Road pass before the window, snuggled against the cold in thick jackets and scarves. However, in the main, they appear happy, probably due to the azure blue skies, sunshine and the lack of any sort of wind. 
I have been idly reviewing the week of newsworthy items, and I spotted an article that was definitely worthy of my consideration and subsequent fact-based ridicule. 
It seems that the UK’s population of Vegans and Vegetarians have got their delicate knickers in a twist over the discovery that minute traces of tallow have been used by the Royal Mint in the production of the UK’s new polymer five pound notes. 
Amidst the electronic squawkings in the twittersphere, it seems that a petition was raised to have the Bank of England change the manufacturing process of the notes. Predictably, the Bank of England is now “Looking into alternatives”
Now, let me try and put this into perspective.
The current working population (16 – 64 years old) of the United Kingdom is 38 million according to the Office of National Statistics. A page on the National Health Service website states that there are around 1.2 million vegetarians in the UK – about 3.5% of the adult working population. (www.nhs.uk) and less than 1% of that population are Vegan.
A quick tap on the calculator shows that the vegan population is estimated as a staggering 380,000,  
The petition managed to gather 120,000 signatures, enough to be considered for parliamentary debate – but this tiny figure represents just 31% of the vegan population if considered in isolation, or 0.1% of the total vegetarian population.
Pardon me if I come across as being just a little incredulous here. But Really? Truly? 0.003% of the adult people within the UK can trigger such a furore over a matter largely unimportant for the vast majority of people, and subsequently for a major institution to commit a sudden volte-face on the issue. 
I wonder how much this will cost the UK government? Any project changed mid course and without warning will incur costs, and these costs will be recovered from the taxation of working people. 
Whilst I am generally very respectful of the opinions of others, and having three or four vegetarian friends for whom I have cooked meals, this is, quite frankly, ludicrous.
Engage Grumpy Old Git Mode….
I am now looking forward to seeing the next Vegan/Veggie revolts on other highly contentious issues such as banning Beer and Wine due to the brewers use of Isinglass – a clearing agent made from fish bladders. Naturally, they will all enjoy the new alcohol free world in which they will live. Or maybe pay far more for beer and wine cleared with synthetic (and possibly much more dangerous to health) substances.  
Those Vegan ladies will have to stop using a great majority of perfumes due to the addition of Castoreum used in the manufacturing process. (Interestingly, castoreum is obtained from the Beaver’s castor sac).
Many plastic items, including supermarket carrier bags, and bicycle tyres use stearic acid in the production process. It is used as a “Slip agent” to prevent plastics sticking together, hence its use in banknote manufacturing. 
No Vegan Parents will be able to have soft and cosy laundry, because fabric conditioners contain dihydrogenated tallow dimethyl ammonium chloride in them, in order soften the fabric’s fibres. This product is obtained from the rendered fat from cattle, horses and other livestock.
No more sugar either in their brave new world, as most sugars that have been refined use bone char during refining. Bone char is the residue collected from the ashes of burnt animal carcasses. 
Protected Lovemaking? Well, that’s out too… condoms are made from latex, together with casein a product extracted from animal milk. This product is used to lubricate the condom.  
Oh no! More bad news for Vegan women. No more nail varnish ladies. This is made with Guanine, known commercially as “Pearl Essence”. In reality it’s made from fish scales, and is one of the four base components of RNA and DNA, the building blocks of life.
Crayons have animal fats in them as well, and whilst thinking of children, let’s consider confectionery. Red coloured food products are tinted using the crushed bodies of the Cochineal Beetle. Glazed chocolate confectionery uses an edible shellac known as “Confectioners Glaze”. In reality, it’s extracted from female Lac Insects. 
Breakfast will never be the same again in Vegan households, as a number of Orange Juice suppliers are adding Omega Three fatty oils to their products. Omega three is extracted from fish. This is a relatively new thing, and is known as “Nutraceuticals”, the addition of products essential to well being into food. 
I shall never eat another bagel again either, as researching for this article revealed that a product called L-Cysteine is used in their production. This product is manufactured from bird feathers and human and pig hair. Yuk!
Toothpaste contains Glycerine another animal product.
The list is almost endless. 
Man has been involved in animal husbandry, farming and cultivation for thousands of years. Homo Sapiens are biologically optimised to operate on a mixed diet, hence the provision of teeth such as incisors and canines to enable the cutting and ripping of flesh, and molars for the grinding of pretty much everything consumed. Stereoscopic vision enables man to be an effective hunter of lesser life forms. 
Naturally, man has also evolved philosophically and culturally, and many now consider the taking of animal life for sustenance as unacceptable, conveniently overlooking the fact the vegetation is also living matter. 
Everyone can make their own choices in terms of their ethics. If you don’t want to eat meat, that’s fine. If you make that as an ethical decision rather than a dietary one, then you should also stop wearing leather, stop riding a bike, driving a car, in fact doing most things that are an intrinsic part of living in the 21st century. 
I do have some sympathy with the protestors. Regardless of the minute amounts of animal product being used, individuals are effectively being forced by the state to handle something which they find offensive and over which they have absolutely no choice. 
In due course, I guess the fiver will become so devalued it will eventually become a coin, in the same way that the old pound note did. This will stop the whinging, unless of course, a way is found to make base metal out of old cat pelts.
So, at the end of the day, in our topsy-turvey world, the process of society is being driven by a loud, vocal, and possibly ill -informed minority, and political correctness means that fewer people feel able to turn round and say “Suck it up Cup Cake”.