Last week, the Salisbury Journal offered proof you can make statistics say anything you want them to say.

In a somewhat sensationalist article, ‘Stonehenge found to be one of the top landmarks for causing road accidents‘, which bemoans the phenomenon of ‘rubber-necking’, it is stated that:

SCORES of drivers have crashed their vehicles while eagerly trying to peek a view of Stonehenge

but then goes on to state that:

Research shows that eight incidents occurred on the busy stretch of road directly to the south of the stones

There is no analysis into the cause of these accidents, and indeed, differentiating between those driving westbound afforded a spectacular front on view, or eastbound where the view is much less rewarding, would seem one obvious question. 

Given the number of vehicles using the A303 on a daily basis, 8 accidents in a five-year period would seem to indicate a very tiny percentage. On the other hand, the number of accidents at or near the Visitor Centre itself suggests a much higher percentage. The site of the highest number of accidents was at the Longbarrow Roundabout designed and introduced by Highways England – need anyone say more?

“Rubbernecking’ has developed from spying an accident on the motorway, to drivers actively slowing down on the many roads straddling famous landmarks to get a peek. The problem has become so severe in recent years, that authorities have put forward plans to build a tunnel next to Stonehenge, to put a lid on the issue.”

…and suddenly, the raison d’etre for the tunnel becomes clear: 8 drivers (in 5 years) out of the many thousands that use the road every day!