If you’ve been driving anywhere recently and found yourself plunged into unexpected darkness, or perhaps at the mercy of traffic controlling systems which appear to be malfunctioning, it could all be due to the recession and thieves who want to earn a quick buck at UK drivers’ expense.
Yes, MPs in Westminster have been hearing that the road network is now being targeted for metal products which can be sold on for thousands of pounds dependent on the price of copper and various other metals.
This type of theft used to only be a problem on the railways, apparently, but these are desperate times and the wire used in street lighting has already been plundered in some areas, along with cable connections used for motorway signs and CCTV cameras.
West Yorkshire police has reported metal cable thefts worth more than £200,000 and the AA has reported the unlawful removal of road signs, some of which are hazard warning signs, which can make driving in certain areas very dangerous.
The Government has announced the introduction of a task force to tackle metal thieves and the scrap dealers who buy their illicit gains, but Norman Baker, the Local Transport Minister, has said that the country may need new laws to tackle the trading of stolen metal. So, it could be time to give the 1964 Scrap Metal Dealers Act an overhaul.
Mr Baker told the Transport Select Committee, “British Transport Police has indicated that it would be helpful to have new powers. There is a general concern, which I am very happy to share, that the legislation in place isn’t designed for the spate of thefts we are seeing.”
As a young driver on the road, I can only say that things are difficult enough already without selfish people stealing signs and making the roads more difficult and dangerous to navigate.
If you find yourself at the mercy of faulty signals and lighting, my advice would be to keep calm, slow down, and, if in doubt, stop when safe to do so, so that you can either call the proper authorities or work out a new route which avoids the areas where thieves have been at work.
And if you’ve got a telematics box, like insurethebox’s Clear Box, fitted in your car, at least you can be safe in the knowledge that should an accident occur, there will be people looking out for you, making sure you are okay.
Image © MJmerry via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence