Thursday, June 03, 2004

Too fast...

I have a thing about speeding and speed limits, thanks to an accident I had many years ago, when I knocked down a schoolchild who ran out in front of me. Now, she was OK, and my car was repairable, but having duly noted the damage that was caused when I was travelling at around 25mph, I resolved always to obey speed limits in built up areas. Living in a village with narrow pavements has only reinforced that resolve, since I know exactly how dangerous it feels walking around with traffic zipping by two feet from your left ear.

However, I am much more ambivalent about speed limits on the open road. For instance, the speed limit on UK motorways is still what it was 40 years ago, and is roundly ignored. I actually have a sneaking feeling that if it was abolished, safety would improve, but no-one's going to take that particular risk. Nevertheless, in nearly 25 years of largely trouble-free driving, I like to think I have developed a pretty keen sense of what is safe and what is not, and I tend to drive a little faster than is legal if conditions allow. Take a week past Saturday, for example. I was running a little late, having been at the 'Tidy Tip' (it's the rubbish dump, really) and I needed to get to Luton to pick up some tiles, so I was probably trundling along a little faster than normal, southbound on the A5, just on the way in to Hockliffe. If you look at that link, you'll notice that the road is particularly straight, owing to it being the Roman Watling Street. It's also wide, and slopes gently downhill. The weather was perfect, and there was very little traffic. I could see probably getting on for 2 miles ahead, and there were no apparent dangers. I was driving at what I considered to be a safe speed. Unfortunately for me, there was a van with a camer in it at the bottom of the hill which took a slightly different view.

Yesterday I got home to discover I had been sent a Notice of Intention to Prosecute. Deep sigh. I can't really complain - I know the rules, and I was breaking them. It'll mean 3 points on my license and a small fine. After all these years, it is kind of annoying, though. And I wonder if all this technology mightn't be better employed somewhere where it might prevent accidents, rather than punish those driving safely in safe conditions. I know the police - sorry, the 'Safety Partnership' - would argue differently, but I see dangerous, often downright reckless, driving every day, and I don't ever see people getting 3 points for that. Oh well. You live and learn, I suppose.

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