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Sunday, February 27, 2005

REVISED GUIDANCE FOR PRODUCING GOVERNMENT FIGURES

Saw this on
numberwatch:Reader Andrew went so far as to write to his MP about the Government claim that 30% of accidents are speed related. He pointed out that this figure was achieved by:

1) counting the proportion of accidents where excess speed was recorded as a factor, (Each accident could have up to 4 causal factors) and adding it to the proportion of accidents where 'speed related factors' such as slippery roads, driver being in a hurry, tailgating etc were recorded as factors to make 30% or so.

2) Then announcing that '30% of causal factors are speed related'.

3) Then sliding to '30% of accidents are caused by speed' in the hope that no one would notice the change of ground.

Andrew pointed out that accidents involving tailgating, drivers being in a hurry and so on may not involve excess speed at all, and that those that did would already be included in the count of accidents with excess speed as a factor and so were effectively being double counted.

This is clearly correct. The punchline is in the reply from the sub-minister involved which I will explain as soon as you have read it:
His MP received a reply from Lord Whitty of the DETR which contained the following:

"With regard to Mr Bent's claim about "double counting", the relatively low incidence of excessive speed as a stand alone factor in the report suggests that, where other factors such as slippery roads and drivers being in a hurry (sic), the police may consider it unnecessary to record excessive speed as well. We are addressing this in the revised guidance being developed with the police for officers who complete accident forms."

Only in Britain would you find a politician so honest (or stupid) as to explain to an opponent how he intends to fake government figures by issuing "revised guidance" to the police on how they are to officially but fraudulently record accidents. No wonder crime figures are falling. Mind you since police time is relatively expensive - it would be cheaper to have a clerk at the ministry write "& excessive speed" on all reports.

Comments:
Surely the correct figure is 100%. After all, if one driver had been travelling at a different speed, whether higher or lower, he would not have been in the same place at the same time as the other one.
 
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