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Momentarily Dazzling!!

November 26, 2010


Amble, England – If you have ever been ‘flashed’ by a speed camera, aka safety camera, you may well have experienced that sinking feeling for the next week or so when the mail man approached your door.

That brown envelope in his hand, is it another tax demand, the long-awaited hospital appointment or the notice of intended prosecution brought about by that momentary lapse of concentration you were jolted from by the blinding flash in your rear view mirror. OMG I’ve just been ‘done’ for speeding nicked by a sentinel of justice, the ever seeing ever on duty eye of the Gatso.

There was a justifiable sigh of relief a couple or three months ago when the Hon Philip Hammond, Secretary of State for Transport, announced the withdrawal of funding that supports UK safety cameras. Its back to proper road traffic policing, an end to the war on road users, it’s not only speed that causes crashes, its bad driving and riding. Its back to the hand on the shoulder, the personal touch, and the “look ere son if I catch you doing a ton down the by-pass again you’re be 90 before you get your licence back”.

Oh dear and the angst. The papers full of stories about the number of crashes rising. All those poor ex police offices who people the Road Safety Partnerships, who operated the safety cameras, out of work. Road safety policy in a shambles. Road safety charities going bust. Think of a bit of appropriate rhetoric and you would almost certainly find it.

Fear not it’s been sorted. By next April all the cameras will be back. The good folk who work on the camera end of the road safety business have come up with solution. All jobs saved, yep all the ex council employers, all the ex police offices who supply goods and services to the safety camera industry are back in business. One wonders if the meeting to sort this took place in Room 131, it probably did as no one actually asked you about, did they? BTW just how do you get a job in the safety camera sector? Humm perhaps I’ll give Grahame Maxwell, Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police, a bell on that one he may be able to help, allegedly of course.

Sorted, but how? Simples the money paid over by road users who are caught ‘just over the limit’ and agree to take a speed awareness course, avoiding the fine and points, will be recycled into the road safety partnerships and pay for the cameras that caught them in the first place. Ahh now wait a moment isn’t that called hypothecation and wasn’t that discontinued about five years ago. It gave the appearance that people were being nicked for speeding just to support the safety camera industry. Well yes, yes and yes actually, but what the hell that was five years ago and the great British public will have forgotten about it by now.

Here’s a prediction or two. The number of people offered a speed awareness course with triple in the next 5 years. The costs of a speed awareness course with also double, now around £60.00. The Association of Chief Police Offices will review their speed camera guidelines so that you will be offered a speed awareness course if you’re doing one mile per hour over the limit. Oh yes and even more police offices will take early retirement and set up companies offering, strangely, speed awareness courses.

I’ve got friend who lives in the Netherlands. He knows thing or two about passive resistance; he woke up one morning to find most of the Wehrmacht parked outside his house offering neighbours nice little train rides, and confiscating radios and bicycles sort of thing. The Germans didn’t like public assembles, numbers were restricted by decree. Things like football matches and the like would be restricted in attendance or people were ordered to leave simple by soldiers turning up and stating that only 50 could be present. So the Dutch developed a system of not attending or all leaving. It really p***ed the Germans off. It’s that thing about conformity and neatness they have.

So here’s an idea. Lets all observe the speed limits. Ahh you may say doesn’t that means ‘they’ have won. Actually no. If the take from camera fines and speed awareness courses fell to zero the system could not be maintained so we win. Mind you there’s bound to be another meeting in Room 131 to come up with yet another way to fund the cameras. All in the interests of road safety, of course.

Ride safe. Oh and that jingling sound? It’s not the front sprocket about to drop off its Santa behind you!

© Back Roads Rider 2010

2 Comments leave one →
  1. dave permalink
    November 30, 2010 3:25 pm

    Firstly, it’s not return to ‘proper’ roads policing as they’re being cut too and roads policing is not a priority for most forces. This means that there will be even less done about those drivers, and riders, who think traffic law only applies to everyone else.

    Secondly it’s more likely that speed awareness courses will be offered to those in higher speeding brackets rather than lower ones. Which is actually no bad thing.

    And finally if everyone obeyed the speed limits there would be no winners or losers. If casualty numbers dropped along with it then speed enforcement would come back with a bang at the expense of other types of enforcement and road safety intervention – like training. If they didn’t drop then we’d still have too many people getting killed on the roads and not enough ‘proper’ roads policing to deal with the huge number of people who drive as if everyone else is expendable.

    Of course this isn’t an issue as most road users don’t have the self control not to speed. By creating a ‘them’ and ‘us’ system we perpetuate poor road use.


  1. El Camino – The Road

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