Oversimplified messages damage safety says Safe Speed.

Responding to a recent case where a driver was prosecuted for eating an apple in her car, road safety organisation Safe Speed said that the idea of careful driving was being lost. The case reportedly cost 10,000 to bring against miscreant Sarah McCaffrey. She was fined 60 and costs of 100 were awarded against her for negotiating a left hand turn with an apple in her right hand.

Safe Speed's Paul Smith said that the case "raises a very serious road safety problem. It's not that eating apples is a real cause of road danger - it isn't - but nationally we're fast losing sight of what it means to be a careful driver.

Smith said, "If we take official road safety messages at face value we'd probably conclude that a driver who keeps two hands on the wheel and sticks to the speed limit is a careful driver. But this is a dangerous oversimplification. There is so much more to careful driving than this."

Smith outlined action careful drivers should take:

Take responsibility for their actions
Concentrate on the task
Anticipate the actions of others
Make conservative decisions and leave a margin for error
Stay calm
Never drive aggressively
Take driving seriously
Leave a margin for error
Set appropriate speeds
Smith said, "Driving is a complex task and a great responsibility. It cannot safely be reduced to a few simple rules. Road safety policy must concentrate on important factors - skills, attitudes and responsibilities. That's what we had when we earned ourselves the safest roads in the world, but for the last ten years we've had nothing but oversimplification and the damage is clear. Road deaths are up. You can't measure safe driving in miles per hour."