I have been driving for twenty-seven years – and am an extremely cautious person on the road, watching my speed zealously. I am regularly overtaken by the impatient who, annoyed with me for driving at the speed limit, tailgate, stick fingers up and then zoom past me.
Yet, twice this week (once on Saturday and then again today), I have received notification through the post informing me that I had been clocked by a Speed Camera driving in excess of the 30mph: Once I hit a dizzying 35, the other a monstrous 36. On both occasions, the same camera and same stretch of road was involved!
Fair enough actually: I abhor speed-related problems on the road and, if I have inadvertently gone over the limit, fair cop as the saying goes…
But, I have a very real concern about all of this, hence my ‘Empty Gesture’ designation for this post.
I feel that the Speed Camera system is teaching those who abuse the speed limits on a regular basis to avoid cameras rather than the all-important avoiding of excessive speed. You see, it is very easy for those who have no intention of curtailing the adrenaline rush afforded by driving well over the limit to learn the positions of all cameras in their local area – and to jam on the anchors at the approach to any one of them, and then mimic a bat out of hell once safely past.
I shall be going on a Speed Awareness Workshop as a result of my crimes – and what will I learn?
It is a genuine question. A valid point. Will it teach me to be more worldly-wise, more cynical? To map all speed cameras out in my mind and only slow down when I see one? Will it make me a more careful driver?
Everyone I have told thus far has said the same thing in incredulous tones: ‘YOU??!!’
Of course I shouldn’t have exceeded the limit. I do not in any way condone my own actions. But, the morass of moral uncertainty remains, does it not? Because, for every law-abiding driver who made a mistake (and feels genuine remorse, fear and unhappiness – as I do), there are many more who will pay the fines, collect the points, go on the workshops, even lose their licences – and, basically, not give a shit. There are those so hardened, so certain that they have a right to drive just as fast as they like, that the threat of a camera catching them in the act is a completely empty gesture.
I do not know what the answer is – but I do suspect that, when I go on this workshop, it will be predominantly made up of people like me – and that career speeders, those who have learned to play the system to their own advantage (if no one else’s) will not be represented in significant numbers.
I will try very hard to be even more careful in the future – not just because of the trauma of the past few days, but because I would never forgive myself if my driving caused injury to another.
I wonder if the two drivers who screamed past me this morning – both going at around eighty on a fifty mph road – have ever been caught? If they have, if points are gathering on their respective licences, it clearly has not taught them that all-important lesson, has it?