Right, so I got done for speeding. The second time in a month in all the years I’ve been driving. It seems to be that cameras are appearing left right and centre which just makes me want to trade my car in for a push along scooter. YES, I mean the ones that kids have! Driving has become no fun and I am constantly on the look out for speed traps and the sound of my ever pinging ‘sat nav’ alerting me to the fact there are obviously plenty camouflaged in hedgerows of which I am unaware. I was extremely annoyed to have received another fine in the post and three more points to add to my sullied license, which at this rate could be taken off me in 4 months. However, there was an option to attend a ‘ Drivers aware course’ instead, releasing you from your points if you spent half a day listening to them.
“Can’t be that bad” I imagined “And I’m sure it’s free”
I thought about it for a while because I can’t sit still for 20 minutes never mind a whole 4 hours but figured it would be an experience. I sent my letter back indicating my preference of attending said course and a week later I received instruction on how to book it online.
“ Blah, blah, name and address..uh huh...” I typed.
“ Enter my personal speeding code..OK, right....choose date...yep, I’ll go for that one in a few weeks” I said out loud to my Mac.
“ Morning or afternoon...hmmmm....7am?!! ERRRRR are you kidding me! PFFFT..let’s go for afternoon, OK 12.15, that’s better, although..” I mused “I’m sure someone mentioned you get croissants at the morning one...” I am easily distracted and tempted by cake like fodder.
“ No, no, it’s too early.. proceed to booking and payment...HUH? EH? PAYMENT? ....NINETY POUNDS! N.I.N.E.T.Y POUNDS!!” I have to say I was outraged and close to calling the police there and then and demanding the right to change my mind and go for the points and the £60 fine instead. Apparently it USED to be free, but like most things it’s been farmed out to the AA (no, not alcoholics anonymous) and now costs the same price as a Ryan Air ticket to Venice.
On the day of the event I was not in the best of moods at having to attend this 4 hour berating that had cost me a small fortune for just going 6 miles over the speed limit. I waited in the queue of eclectic mix of speeding criminals as Mr AA jobsworth, with his yellow lanyard and official clipboard ordered us to sign the register and produce our licenses. We then proceeded into a meeting room with tables and chairs where I made a beeline for the back seat for a quick exit if necessary/possible/if I could contrive a way to escape.
At this point our lady presenter introduced herself in a high pitched, shrew like manner and indicated that if you did not finish the full course you would be in trouble with the police so no ‘disappearing’ to the toilet and not coming back. They have their eyes. Bit like the cameras then. Damn. I remember thinking what’ funky’ tights this lady was wearing for her age and yet she appeared to have not brushed her hair or put any make up on. Why would you not do that and yet wear jazzy tights? I was perplexed by her behaviour but her shrill voice cut in again making me wonder how I was going to be able to listen to her for the next 240 minutes without getting ‘drivers aware course rage’. It was at this time I started praying for a fire alarm in the hotel.
She proceeded to tell us about the 3 ‘E’s and trying to evoke responses and guesses from the captive audience. This is when you start to see who the know all’s of the group are, who like the sound of their own voice and are likely to keep you at the event longer than necessary by asking pointless questions.
“The three E’s” she continued loudly are “ Education, Engineering and Enforcement”
My mind began to wander as I took note of how many people were in attendance. 25 of us. That’s 25x £90 = £2,250.00 PLUS there was one this morning. They’ve landed 4.5 k in a day doing this.
“ Our intention is that you WILL ALL walk away with something from this course today” she boomed.
“Yep. Probably having lost the will to live” I thought spitefully.
I began to scribble on my paper what my 3 E’s were:
Expect. me to fall to sleep any minute.
Elect. someone who has a musical tone to deliver your presentations.
Evian. is not going to see me through the afternoon. The need for alcohol is great.
And on we journeyed through the worksheets and highway code. Speed limits and hazards and so on. Halfway through we were allowed a WHOLE 15 minute break where I had to buy the worlds most expensive and disgusting coffee and a packet of cheese and onion crisps which I chose deliberately so nobody would talk to me.
In the next half of the session something happened to me. I found I was paying attention. I found myself finding more than one thing that made me stop and think and reconsider my moaning and whining and most importantly my speeding:
The national stats of just police reported accidents for 2010 were this:
All general accidents - 208,648
Killed in a year on our roads - 1,850
Seriously injured - 22,660
Now the seriously injured stat is the one that got to me most. When they say ‘seriously injured’ they mean someone who has lost limbs or has spinal damage and will never walk again. Maybe a child that has suffered serious brain damage. Not only are their lives ruined but so are those that maybe have to give up their job to look after them and suffer forever seeing a loved one in this way. That’s 22,660 in a year.
25% of which are caused by speeding. The single highest factor of road deaths than any other.
69% of us exceed the limit of 30 MPH in urban areas where most road injuries and deaths occur.
Now, like me you may be thinking “I was only doing 36 miles per hour for goodness sake”
Let me tell you when you watch a video of someone being hit by mile at a time increments and the difference it makes, you would be shocked.
At 30 MPH you have an 80% chance of survival - That’s why it’s 30 MPH on urban roads.
At 35 MPH (known as the killing speed) it’s only a 50% chance of survival.
At 40 MPH (just 40) you only have a 10% chance of survival.
Look at your reasons for speeding and ask yourself this - If you were to hit someone’s child and cause a serious life changing injury or death do you think your reasons for speeding would satisfy the mother of that child?
So if you see me now, I’m the one driving at the precise limit, happily upsetting the tailgaters behind me, keeping a safe distance away from cars in front and being aware of what’s going on around me. If you get the opportunity to go on this course then take it. Alternatively I hope some of what I have said has made you think and you too will kill your speed.