Points make prizes.

08 Dec

You’re driving along a road and at the last minute you see a speed camera. You glance down at the speedo and you’re over the speed limit. They’ve got you. It could be a roadside Gatso, a fixed speed camera up on a gantry, a policeman at the side of the road or a police van with a camera sticking out of it. In unusual circumstances you may even be stopped by a couple of polis in a police car.

If it’s a camera then you work out how far above the speed limit you were, whilst still driving along. Your aim to be no more than 10% above the limit and then you might also have between 2-5 MPH wriggle room depending on the speed and the accuracy of your cars speedo. If your speed is above that then you have to wait for 14 days to see if a brown envelope comes through your door and you have to start filling in forms and prepare to have points added to your license and a dent made in your bank account.

Speed limits are there for a reason saving lives and making the roads safer. Outside schools between normal school hours it tends to be 20 mph. In town mostly 30 mph and then varying limits depending on circumstances. The faster you drive above the speed limit the more points you will be given and you’ll also get a fine too, which is means tested if you go beyond a fixed penalty offer.

I don’t think there are that many drivers out there, who drive outside cities anyway, who haven’t had 3 points or more. The speed limit set is a statute, which is legal, and a speeding conviction is a crime. The system does allow for appeals and for various discussions to take place between your brief and the Clerk of the Court if you are about to breach the 12 point ceiling. This usually takes place a short time before you are due to appear before the Magistrates and will be for speeds which are deemed to be too high or being awarded a further 3 points of more and which will meet the 12 point limit at which point you will be relived of your license. Above 12 it’s curtains for your driving career for a while unless you can demonstrate hardship if that happens. Then you get your points but you mustn’t have another speeding offence within the three years of the appearing in court. This is the usual way to keep driving but they may hit you with a mega ouch fine just so you know who is really the boss.

The reality of the system can be somewhat different. There is a Road Safety Partnership in Scotland who park their wee vans on motorway flyovers. Now rule one of citing a van is that it has to be at the site of an accident black spot. These flyovers aren’t. I was driving along a motorway in the central belt mid morning in very heavy rain. Suddenly lots of brakes lights were going on all around me and cars were all over the place. A huge lorry went rushing by me in the outside lane, which luckily was clear. He missed me by inches. The cause was a wee van on a flyover. They were actually making the road more dangerous.

The static cameras also cause a surfing effect. Cars brake for the camera and then speed up once they are past. The static cameras make you drive at a steady pace but it’s quite difficult to make sure your speed doesn’t creep up. If it does you slow down well below the limit to reduce your average speed. It means that the speeds vary quite a bit

I think most drivers recognise the need for speed limits and for enforcement but like far too many things nowadays the revenue they make from the cameras maybe, at times takes a higher precedent than the safety gain. The camera partnerships often don’t comply with the regulations and the final justice at times isn’t uniform.

One thing is for certain however, and that is the system pursues you regardless and quickly. Or it usually does. It seems to be a question of who you are. One chap, a good few months ago now, was exposed by his ex-wife as having forced her to take the three penalty points for his speeding transgression. The police have been very slow to follow this up. They are still investigating. Could Mrs Huhne, yes wife of he of governmental excellence, (okay I jest) have left central London after she had delivered a speech and driven to Stanstead in time to have been photographed by a speed camera in some road works?

How long would it have taken the Police to investigate if this had been you or I? We’d have had papers served on us within a couple of weeks and painful justice delivered to the guilty party.

Mr Huhne has a lot on his mind. He has the global warming scam to keep alive after all and all those lovely, cost effective and phenomenally efficient windmills to install and dream about. Mind you he will be able to dream about them just the same if he is in the Pokey. Mind you sleep might come less easily if he has to contend with sharing a cell with a global warming sceptic.

Best not mention the showers though.


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