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Speed awareness courses – Convenient cop out or a useful community service?

Posted by joe
8th February 2013

Having recently been the victim of a covert road toll camera (sorry, traffic safety camera) whilst travelling on the M25 at 04.30 am, I was offered the choice of paying the toll (sorry, I mean fine) and three penalty points or taking a speed awareness course.

Frankly for me the fine was pretty irrelevant. As a road toll it represents fair value when compared to the French autoroutes. Even the 3 points really weren’t a deal breaker. But I was intrigued to be offered the option to attend a speed awareness course. Whatever my preconceptions or financial motivations I came to the conclusion that it would be a “no brainer”

Therefore, this week, I along with 24 other speeding offenders duly sat down to a 4 hour briefing on the mechanics of speed awareness. For anyone who has been on these courses and anyone who may at some point in the future be offered the opportunity to attend, here are my nonjudgmental observations on the content and its benefit.

  • The people who deliver the course have no axe to grind. They are not in the employ of the police and they are not there to catch you out or judge you, they simply say it as it is. My two tutors for the day were Phil and Paul, who managed to deliver relevant, punchy and interesting content whilst maintaining the interest of 25 people all with mixed lifestyles and mixed opinions on the benefits.
  • Speed kills. There are no two ways about it. We all have different views on speeding and why we do it, but until you sit down with “experts” like Phil and Paul and go over the statistics you honestly have no idea of the implications of your actions. Check out www.drivingcasultiesdown.org
  • Stopping distances increase exponentially with quite small increases in speed, this leads to quite shocking differences in impact speed when you hit the object in your way. If you are lucky, people can sometimes walk away from these accidents, more often than not, they don’t, look in to your conscience and see how you feel about that.
  • We don’t like them, but speed limits (I think usually) are there for a reason and perhaps sometimes we all need reminding why.
  • Over 4 times as many people die on our roads than die as a result of violent crime, think of your neighbourhood and consider your reaction to murder and violent assault, then compare that to your views on speeding (who recalls the recent story of Andrew Priest – if you’ve not heard of him, google him – get a grip man, what on earth were you thinking ??)
  • Driving is a skill, but it is an also everyday routine and it is important that drivers of all ages remember the responsibility we have to other road users. It’s easy to pass our tests, then forget what we were taught and the importance of what we were taught, let’s not kid ourselves that we know it all. For me personally, this course was a great “refresher”

Spend some time thinking about speeding, spend some time thinking about how much you know about the highway code and spend some time thinking about how you would react if someone you know is killed or seriously injured in a road traffic accident.

I’d like to say that you’ll never catch me speeding again. Sadly, I drive a car capable of doing 155 mph, therefore however virtuous I may appear I’m going to struggle with that dilemma. Fortunately Germany beckons and with their road, race tracks and lane discipline I’ll look to confine my urges to a more controlled environment.

Posted by joe
8th February 2013
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