The Container uestion • L .-1 0R some time past there has
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been considerable doubt as to the position of the container in respect of taxation. In some cases local licensing authorities permitted removable containers to be regarded as separate from the vehicles carrying them, when the unladen weights of the latter were under, cOnsideration. In other districts the containers had to be included in these weights. The result has been much confusion, and we have received scores of inquiries, which the ambiguous nature of the wording of the regulations made it extremely difficult satisfactorily to answer.
Recently an effort was made to clear up the situation by an amendment to the Finance Act, but the proposed remedy proved almost worse than the disease. Now, however, there is hope that the position will be clarified. At the moment of writing the matter has not been definitely settled-, but we have been advised that the authorities have agreed to a further amendment, which will allow a container to be considered as distinct from the unladen weight and, therefore, not subject to extra taxation. This is but another example where suitable representation, backed by powerful road-transport interests, has achieved recognition.
Should Pedestrians Be Controlled?
THE Briton is proverbially jealous of his socalled rights, and no better example of this can be found than in the case of the average pedestrian in his use of the road. This fact is conclusively proved by the various inquiries into road accidents when, so often, a vehicle driver is, rightly, exonerated from blame when fatalities or injuries have resulted from the crass stupidity of persons who have looked upon the road as giving them the same freedom of movement as the footpath. Almost any driver who spends long at the wheel can say with truth that he is constantly saving lives. The most striking example of the attitude Of many of the public is that displayed towards the crossings laid down for their convenience and safety. People will obstinately walk across main thoroughfares quite close to such crossings, often weaving their way through dense traffic. Many countries, the roads of which are much less congested than ours, have found it advisable to institute control for walkers. It might well be asked why, here, there should be such strong control of drivers and none whatever of the public in this respect. In Berlin and some American cities the jay walker is fined on the spot, and he has been brought to realize that this is entirely in his own interest. We believe that the police would. welcome some legal power with which to back their efforts in promoting safety. At present they often give advice, but this is so seldom heeded by the hurrying mob that it produces little effect. At first, any control might be resented, but we think that public opinion would soon veer in its favour, particularly if its effect became apparent in a reduction of the number of accidents. Frequently it is not the jay walker who suffers, but he may be primarily the cause of damage to vehicles or injury to other road users.
Trouble Ahead for the Law Breaker WHATEVER one may think of the law as it stands, it must, until such time as it can be amended, be observed. The Licensing Authorities are determined that it shall be respectedby all and they are prepared to take strong measures to that end. They are, moreover, well aware of the doubtful practices existing within the industry, and are suggesting means for preventing some of them.
Maintenance is a matter to which even closer attention will have to be devoted by operators. The standard of vehicle ,condition has risen since the introduction of the 1933 Act, but it is not yet entirely satisfactory. Stricter supervision over operation under Contract A licences may be exercised in the future, whilst steps will probably be taken to prevent unfair competition by the use of trailers behind private cars. The farmer C-licensee who works for hire or reward may also receive the attention of the authorities.