And no, this has nothing to do with blonde policewomen.... at least I don't think it does, but I was banged to rights as they say, just the same.
I was proceeding in a leisurely manner, m'lud, when I entered a local village and noticed a van, in which a man operating a camera was looking in my general direction. I was just inside the 30 MPH area and when I looked at my speedo I was doing 35 MPH. Admittedly I was slowing as I entered the village, but that wasn't the point as I realised a week later when the dreaded letter dropped through my letterbox.
So I had 3 options. I could either accept a fine and 3 points, plus a hike in my insurance premium, or challenge the whole thing and go to court where the fine would be £200 plus 3 points if I failed, or go on the Driver Awareness Course at a cost of £90 and no points on my license. Guess what I opted for!
Actually it's not that automatic. You have to apply and there's a chance the police may refuse you, though they would rather you took the course in reality.
So, what was it like? Brilliant!
The 2 guys who ran the course treated the 20 people on it as responsible adults, rather than as naughty kids to be humiliated, and they understood what they were talking about. These are some of the elements that came out during the 4 hours we were there:-
- No one makes a profit out of the course. In Hampshire, once all hotel and lecturer costs are covered, any remaining money is donated to the Hampshire Flying Doctor helicopter service which is totally supported by charity rather than the NHS
- A car travelling at 32 MPH as opposed to 30 MPH will still be doing 10 MPH if both cars are braked together and the 30 MPH car has stopped. At 70 MPH that goes up to 50 MPH.
- At 20 MPH 85% 0f people will survive with minor injuries. At 30 MPH
- In an exercise, Hampshire police spot checked drivers for eyesight problems. Just over 25% failed badly. Amazingly this wasn't the older generation, but rather people in their late 20's who didn't want to admit they needed glasses and look nerdy!.
- Almost 80% of road accidents happen at road junctions and an amazing number involve cycles and motor bikes.
- A fixed speed camera can only be located where there have been 3 deaths, or major accidents in recent years.
- Mobile speed cameras of any kind can only be used where there has been a death or serious injury in the previous 3 years.
- Amazingly the outside lane of a motorway is NOT just for BMW drivers with a heavy right foot and a mobile, nor is it for lorries, caravans, or any cars towing something. Nor is it for use when the inside lane is available.
- There are very strict and defined rules as to whether a specific speed limit should be imposed. There has to have been an major accident with the last 3 years and the area must have street lights a certain distance apart before a 30 MPH limit can be imposed retrospectively. Some Hampshire villages still have a 60 MPH speed limit (the limit on a single lanes 2-way country road) going through them, purely because there hasn't yet been a major accident.
- Most people have no idea what ABS really does, how to use it properly, or even what it stands for, although they have it on their cars. Do you know?
- According to the Highway Code the average driver reacts to an incident in 0.7 seconds. In fact in road tests it's around 2 seconds.... and a lot can happen in 2 seconds even at 30 MPH!
- The year with the highest road deaths in the Great Britain was 1939! Since then it has steadily declined with a marked drop in the past 10 years, even though the number of cars on the road has increased incredibly.
- Since the Driver Awareness Course option was brought in the number of major road accidents has fallen considerably, likewise deaths.
Not one person on the course grumbled about the cost. No one moaned at the fact we'd been prosecuted in the first place and "why aren't the police out there chasing real villains instead of persecuting us poor motorists" (if we didn't speed, they would be chasing villains is one answer). The fact we all lost at least half a day's wages didn't occur to us; it's the price you pay for awareness.
We all thanked the two guys for an excellent course and promised never to see them again!
Blog on, Dudes!