Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Bleedin' Obvious

I've just heard an advert on Magic FM warning us not to cross level crossings when a train is coming. I ask you. It finishes LEVEL CROSSINGS: DON'T RUN THE RISK!

And they say there's no waste in government spending.

Coming soon: PETROL STATIONS: AVOID PUTTING MATCHES IN YOUR TANK!

PS I assure you I was only listening to Magic under severe duress.

70 comments:

Paul Halsall said...

How about not appointing ex News of the World editors as Tory Party PR men?

Raedwald said...

Back in the late '70s, just before the telly closed down at 11.15, they used to run a Public Information Broadcast on What To Do If You Catch Fire (the redundant capitalisation was theirs, from memory).

Apparently, many Britons caught fire at the time, and few had much of an idea what to do about it.

The answer, repeated at least three times during the broadcast, was 'lay down, roll over and put it out!'. A rug was offered as a useful accessory to self-extinction.

The success of the campaign can be measured by my own experience in never having caught fire at all. Public money well spent.

prj45 said...

People do run the risk though.

There's a crossing near me. Red light means speed up, some people even swerve round the barrier if it's coming down.

Anonymous said...

This government keeps many commercial radio stations afloat with "public service" advertising. No wonder nearly every news bulletin starts with the two most hated words in the English language "Gordon Brown" followed by a statement on whatever insignificant thing he is doing that day supposedly to save the world.

Dewi Harries said...

You'd be astonished at some of the antics at level crossings.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sc7XmX1ak2A

Not only puts the drivers lives at risk but has, tragically, derailed trains with more tragic consequences in the past. It's serious stuff.

JuliaM said...

"People do run the risk though."

Well, the Dawin Awards are hotly contested each year...

Unsworth said...

Yes, I'm utterly pissed off with being nannied by these cretins. They seem to believe that they can legislate and/or issue 'guidelines' for everything. Everything is being reduced to the lowest common denominator - sheer pap.

It's simply State interference with everyday life. Why? There is always risk. People should be treated as adults.

Patrick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Patrick said...

There does seem a lot of these "public information adverts" on at the moment. Its all very reminiscent of the late 1970s.

BJ said...

I agree, it's thoroughly annoying.

But I was surprised when I did some research into this at university a few years ago -- and found there was only one year between 1980 and 2001 in which the Central Office of Information had not been the biggest spender on commercial radio ads.

Today, the CRCA's website says: The Central Office for Information (COI) spends more on advertising on Commercial Radio than any other advertiser and has been the top advertiser now for the past 10 years.

canvas said...

Two teenage girls died when they were hit by a train at Elsenham station not so long ago. It actually happens quite frequently. When you're young ...you have no fear.

So, no, it's not always 'bleedin obvious', Iain. And it is not a waste of money - but improving safety precautions at level crossings is where funds should definitely be invested.

The UK railway network is so archaic. We need high speed trains, Crossrail and urgent upgrades everywhere to bring us into the 21st century.

BJ said...

Oh, and Paul Halsall wins the award for most pointless blog comment of the year, shurely?

DespairingLiberal said...

Many people are too stupid to realise they shouldn't. The result is that a great many perfectly intelligent and perfectly innocent people on passenger trains are endangered. If ads like this persuade some of the stupid drivers not to do it, isn't that money well spent?

This appears to be a misunderstanding on Iain's part of the PC debate - excessive use of PC is about _innapropriate_ corrections to behaviour or ones that are mere fussiness. Trying to stop morons killing train staff and passengers does not fit this pattern.

Ian Thorpe said...

If the government want to make sure there are no more accidents at level crossings its no good telling us Dont Run The Risk. They should tell the railway operators Dont Run The Trains.

Sorted.

Duncan Stott said...

A few stats from Network Rail press release:

There are 20 collisions between trains and cars on level crossings every week.

15 people died on them last year, and many more injured. A single death on the roads costs the government (and the taxpayer) upwards of £1 million.

Add on the £1.8M cost of delays to trains, and the cost of level crossing misuse runs into many millions.

I agree that the government's advertising budget should be carefully controlled, but I can see how a cost-benefit analysis could come out positive with this issue.

Dewi Harries said...

From Network Rail:

"The campaign has been running since 2006, but in November 2008 the company launched its new hard hitting tv and radio advertising campaign that illustrates in graphic detail the tragic consequences of misusing level crossings by both motorists and pedestrians.
Figures revealed by Network Rail show that hundreds of drivers are dicing with death by ignoring warning signs and lights or weaving round barriers at level crossings.
Last year, there were more than 3400 incidents of misuse at level crossings. On average, more than three motorists a week were involved in a near miss, where a train narrowly avoided missing them because they ignored warning signs and lights or weaved round barriers. There were 20 collisions between trains and motor vehicles for those that didn’t beat the lights.
Pedestrians were also putting themselves at risk with more than five a week involved in near misses. If a train hits a person at high speed, there is almost always only one tragic outcome. Sadly, 15 people lost their lives at level crossings in 2008.
Last year, over 55 days of delays to trains and passengers were caused by level crossing misuse, costing Network Rail around £1.8million – money that can’t be invested into the railway. The real cost to the industry far exceeds this, as it does not include actual damage to trains or tracks or staffing time and cost."

Dewi Harries said...

Sorry Duncan - you beat me to the stats.

JuliaM said...

"If ads like this persuade some of the stupid drivers not to do it, isn't that money well spent?"

Well, there's the problem. Do they?

People dim enough to attempt to take a chance on a level crossing aren't likely to pay attention to public service radio announcements, because they don't believe they apply to them. They are for other people..

"I agree that the government's advertising budget should be carefully controlled, but I can see how a cost-benefit analysis could come out positive with this issue."

How are you going to factor in the people who were thinking about it, but didn't because they'd heard it on the radio then?

canvas said...

Any chance of Iain retracting or updating his hasty post? I doubt it... unthinking bravado?

Anonymous said...

Ok, I never comment on blogs but you would be surprised how many people ignore warnings about level crossings and think they can skirt round half barriers. You only have an average of 27 seconds between the warning and the barrier coming down (ok, I'm not a trainspotter I work in the rail industry) and you would be amazed home many people underestimate this and think they would be ok putting themselves, the train driver and all of the passengers at risk.

To quote Network Rail

"Last year, there were more than 3400 incidents of misuse at level crossings. On average, more than three motorists a week were involved in a near miss, where a train narrowly avoided missing them because they ignored warning signs and lights or weaved round barriers. There were 20 collisions between trains and motor vehicles for those that didn’t beat the lights.

Pedestrians were also putting themselves at risk with more than five a week involved in near misses. If a train hits a person at high speed, there is almost always only one tragic outcome. Sadly, 15 people lost their lives at level crossings in 2008."

Before you mock everything maybe check your facts!

Anonymous said...

Did a quick check on news reports - seems to 'normal for Norfolk'.

DespairingLiberal said...

JuliaM - maybe you are right and the ads don't work with the target audience. If that's so, then it's just a case of either making the ads work better or choosing some other method. I suspect however that you agree with the basic point that this is about moronic and suicidal behaviour which endangers other people who are neither moronic nor suicidal. Iain says this is "obvious" and yes it is, but that does not mean the authorities should not attempt to do something about it.

I often think one of the hallmarks of the more died-in-the-wool Tory is taking laissez-faire attitudes to unreasoned extremes. This is an example of that type of attitude.

Everyone in the industry by the way agrees that the best thing to do would be to engineer out all the automated crossings with bridges, road closures, etc, but the cost and/or nuisance to local communities is in most cases unacceptably high.

Anonymous said...

Agree with Iain on this. The sort of people who are stupid enough to risk being run down by a train aren't going to take any notice of nanny broadcasts advising you to be sensible.

Money down the drain.

Now for that bag of peanuts that "may contain peanuts"!

Anonymous said...

WARNING
this blog may contain nuts


like canvas.

Lord Mandelbottom of Marrakech said...

Jumping off cliffs may harm your height
Driving a Vauxhall may harm your street cred
Saying bad things about me may result in rumours about your yatching holidays...

canvas said...

Iain says "Am getting completely hacked off with anonymous blog posting idiots. Seriously thinking about going back to pre registered only. Views?"

yes, please do it. They are a disaster.

Martin Kearns said...

"I've just heard an advert on Magic FM warning us not to cross level crossings when a train is coming. I ask you. It finishes LEVEL CROSSINGS: DON'T RUN THE RISK!

And they say there's no waste in government spending...


Who might this mythical "they" be, Mr Dale? Those within the bubble? Try polling your readers about waste in Government spending...

Urban Tory said...

Iain, you kid nobody, magic fm was a choice, rest assured though bad radio station choices will not alienate the yoof of today, I still like you though

Anonymous said...

yes, please do it. They are a disaster.

July 22, 2009 9:08 PM

WARNING
canvas is going to cry.

John Henry said...

And don´t forget to breathe.

It doesn't add up... said...

Unfortunately during the recession suicide will increase. Being run over by a train has been a popular method since Tolstoy wrote Anna Karenina. I think these ads may actually increase the numbers who choose suicide by train.

Gallimaufry said...

Common sense is actually the rarest faculty. Never underestimate the sheer stupidity of people regarding their health and safety.

Mulligan said...

Personally I don't think the sort of person who is stupid enough to try and run level crossing lights will be that versed in Anna Karenina, but you never know I suppose.

Makes you wonder people breathe a sigh of relief every time they go back to their untaxed car and it hasn't been crushed into a neat little square.

DespairingLiberal said...

There is massive waste of taxpayers money. Featherbedded staff in Quangos. Huge overpayments to contractors, especially in the IT sphere. I could go on. But this is not one of them.

In a way, facile stories about PC-ness in the Daily Mail style play into the hands of those milking the taxpayer. They distract attention from the real crooks.

Still can't see anything in Tory policy about seriously getting to grips with contractors, although they have, credit where it's fully due, stated they will cancel the ID card scheme.

bladerunner86 said...

@ Anonymous said...
"Did a quick check on news reports - seems to 'normal for Norfolk'."

Iain why do you allow stupid comments like this to be published.
I am from Norfolk and find this offensive. Take it off now.

haddock said...

Classic FM is also running Nanny's warnings about being splatted by a train, hardly a targetted campaign.
as for "A single death on the roads costs the government (and the taxpayer) upwards of £1 million." , who was it who wrote about 'The National Guesswork Authority. ?

Surely if the person being squished is, for example, a dole scrounging, won't work, drug addict with Aids.... there will be a saving for the taxpayer, not a cost...

Anonymous said...

Iain you are becoming an absolute bore blah blah
July 22, 2009 9:34 PM

Shut up bum face your as bad as canvas.

Iain Dale said...

Bladerunner. You seem to find everything offensive.

bladerunner86 said...

Iain I don't find everything offensive.
I come from Norfolk and to say its 'normal for Norfolk' has a negative connotation saying we are all inbred.

Would you like people to say you are inbred? - I think not.

Barnacle Bill said...

I'm gob smacked for once I agree with everything Canvas has posted!

Iain Dale said...

Bladerunner, I am called worse every day. Norfolk people use this phrase, as I well remember.

Dewi Harries said...

Iain - any better ideas on how to save lives on level crossings? Don't you think this post was just a touch ill thought out?

Anonymous said...

I'm gob smacked for once I agree with everything Canvas has posted!

July 22, 2009 9:45 PM

That'll be the drugs working.

trevorsden said...

Or Mr PH - appointing alcoholic ex-pornographers as Labour PR men (or allowing financial swindlers as LibDem donors).

Meantime the Tories have that rarity - an honourable ex-newspaper editors.

If, as some people who do not agree with this post (like the usual anonymous suspects) say ,there are still too many accidents at level crossings --- well why do not the railways, the govt and whoever spend some money on replacing all the half barrier level crossings with full barriers ?

(The fatuous COI would waste our money on something else then.)

Why? They cannot be arsed / its too expensive. Well that being the case I think its legitimate to complain about the banality of statin' the bleedin' obvious.

canvas said...

a message for all these Tory naysayers > Are the Tories going to consistently say "we can't do this, we can't do that, so we shouldn't even try?"

How about some positive and progressive ideas for a change?

Let's hear DC tell us his plans for a high speed rail network, crossrail...

?

Waiting...

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sarah said...

Iain you have to stop these anonymous comments. Its getting out of hand.
Please delete the previous one.

Neil Ward said...

Is it me or is their a noticeable increase in offensive comments and just plain stupid comments being posted on your blog lately Iain.

Anonymous said...

Is it me or is their a noticeable increase in stupid comments and just plain stupid comments being posted on your blog lately Iain.

July 22, 2009 10:36 PM

your right neil
canvas has a lot to answer for,

prj45 said...

Neil Ward said...
"Is it me or is their a noticeable increase in offensive comments and just plain stupid comments being posted on your blog lately Iain."

And that's just by the author.

Iain, do you still think nobody drives out in front of trains?

bladerunner86 said...

Why has blog approval been activated again?

Victor, NW Kent said...

The puzzling thing about our anonymous poster is that he or she appears to have quite conflicting views on almost every topic. That makes it hard to take Anonymous seriously.

Frogsquad said...

I work in the rail industry. Unfortunately, people really do behave like idiots on level crossings. In fact, the danger posed by this behaviour to both the drivers themselves and the crew/passengers of the train involved is now the biggest single safety risk associated with the railway (which is still low compared to the risk of driving). If you want to be really brutal about it, level crossing fatalities also result in really serious disruption to your rail services and mean that you get home from work 3 hours late.

Level crossings aren't as common as they used to be. This has an upside and a downside; a lot of people simply don't know how to deal with them. God knows you're unlikely to be tested on them while learning to drive. With that in mind, a public information campaign letting people know that level crossings are really bad places to be stupid (by the time you can see the train approaching, it is almost certainly too late) is actually not a terribly bad use of public money. At least, it isn't when compared to some of the other drivel thst the Government throws our cash at.

Thatsnews said...

Sadly, many people DO think they can run the risk of going over a crossing when there is a train approaching.

And I like the advert posters that say: "Would the xx number of people who survived trespassing on railway lines last year please spare a though for the xx who didn't survive?"

Hamish said...

Iain, could you please clarify the meaning of Comment Deleted entries.

Sometimes the body states:
this post has been removed by the author
Sometimes it states:
this post has been removed by a blog administrator

I'm not being pedantic, but I thought you made the posts on this blog, and we (and you) made the comments.
So, in the first case above, is it the person who made the comment who has withdrawn it, or is it you as writer of the original post who has done so?

Iain Dale said...

If it says Deleted by the author, it means the author of the comment has for whatever reason decided to withdraw the comment.

If it says deleted by a blog administrator it means I have deleted it.

Hamish said...

Thanks Iain for clearing that up.

Regarding anonymous comments, my objection to them is that they kill stone dead any sustained interaction with other commenters. I don't have a clue who is who among all the anonymice who comment here.

I have no objection to someone posting under a pseudonym, but the pseudonym should be unique and should not be confusable with a real name.

JuliaM said...

"I often think one of the hallmarks of the more died-in-the-wool Tory.."

Thanks for the info. I wouldn't know, not being one myself.

"I am from Norfolk and find this offensive. "

To quore Stephen Fry: "You're offended? So..." Ah, you can fill in the rest, I'm sure.

Anonymous said...

What is the difference between an anonymous post and a post written by someone with a stupid nome de plume?
Are their comments more relevant because they have a google account?

Why don't we try something new.
Have a pilot scheme of 6 months where the Gummint don't advertise ANYTHING and see what happens. Its quite clear that all the stupid gimmicks don't work otherwise there would be no need for the nannies.

James Harris (not anon)

Unsworth said...

@ Canvas

"Let's hear DC tell us his plans for a high speed rail network, crossrail..."

Well, shall we start by asking who is going to pay for these expensive items?

Anonymous said...

victor said.
The puzzling thing about our anonymous poster is that he or she appears to have quite conflicting views on almost every topic. That makes it hard to take Anonymous seriously.

July 22, 2009 11:26 PM

I have a multiple personality disorder(like that woman in that rabbit book) and sometimes like to dress in ladys clothes but theres no reason not to take me seriously.

Adrian said...

You're being a bit dim yourself on this one, Iain. Although it would clearly be a waste of money if the government was just attempting to save the lives of idiots, I think if you were on a train when one of these idiots was thinking of jumping the red light, you might be more grateful that some of your taxes were being spent to make him think twice.

Anonymous said...

Iain, I rarely comment on yr blog, but following this thread is interesting, in how the conversation starts to cover all the bases of the topic as reader contribute their thoughts. However, anon comments seem to be used as pointless wind up posts, if and when you get the time .. just nuke em, i've seen more stupid comments by people 'registered'. some people like me like the flexibility of open comments on blogs, forceing people to register (whereever) is a pain and forces most blog comments sections that do this to be closed talking shops full of loonies (like Dan Hannans blog)Anon posts can post and contribute properly too, you know. Stay calm keep up the good work and don't let obvious wind ups get to you, just hit delete. If they have something valid to say then regardless of view I guess you'd allow them (like most of the MP holiday posts, which tbh was full of one eyed angry people)

As far as this topic is concerned.

Nuke the radio budget and run a tv ad slap bang in a bbc soap break (bbc should'nt charge for this methinks) I was in the states years back and in the station a vid was on loop showing a safty vid of how trains were much safer and tough to de-rail *que vid of test trains smashing into cars with dummies in them* now every time I drive over a crossing I flinch and look left and right anyway. maybe given the loss of life and cost etc etc makes this issue important enough to show real life resulting in death footage. if its that serious.

still darwins Law and all that.

regards

Toby

Anonymous said...

"LEVEL CROSSINGS: DON'T RUN THE RISK! "


Its aimed at Tories who don't like being told what to do and think the world revolves around them and we're all there for their benefit.

Osama the Nazarene said...

I'm afraid its the silly season. Guido is on holiday and resting from blogging for a month. Some of the more inane hangers on who comment on his blog seem to have moved over here.

Sally Roberts said...

It's not just Magic where they run this stupid ad - it is also on Classic FM and LBC. There are equally stupid ads with nannyish women enjoining us in various regional accents to pay our car tax and not to smuggle sausages through customs!

Boy on a bike said...

The problem with a campaign like this is that it is of no use to sensible people that see a train coming and stop.

Those that are likely to drive through or around the barriers (yes, people snap the arms off the level crossing boom gates all the time - they are now designed to snap off easily so that they can be reattached easily) are too stupid to pay any attention to the campaign.

So it's of no value to those that would pay attention, and those that it is aimed at will ignore it.

Total waste of money.

but I'm sure that someone, somewhere feels good about it.

PaulD said...

Well I quite liked the old public information ads. No harm done if they are kept low budget and infinitely preferable to the alternative - another bloody law.

The only one that actually works for me is "Think once, think twice, think bike". It does actually make you think.

Daryl said...

You've overlooked the fact that to counter the problem of drivers in a hurry trying to get over the crossing before the barrier coming down, they have *increased* the amount of time for which it is down by bringing it down earlier.

Now that, folks, is clever.

Falco said...

Perhaps we should have an obvious danger at crossings that should discourage all but the suicidal. Tons of metal going by at high speed for instance?

The problem is that there are no stupid proof systems and if people aren't discouraged from crossing by a high speed train then no amount of advertising will penetrate their feeble minds.