FOR all those people out there who think that the UK’s roads have become a lawless place, here’s a cautionary tale for you. I was on a very quick late night run in a Nissan Qashqai when I had my first brush with the law for a wee while – a timely reminder that there are traffic cops out there, and that they’re keeping a watch on the roads, even if sometimes it feels as though they’ve given up and handed over their duties to the GATSO camera.
It was my own fault, really… it had been another long day, and I was dying to get back home and crawl into bed. Exiting a roundabout, I gunned the 2-litre dCi to see what was really under the bonnet, and headed up the long uphill dual carriageway that followed with my foot hard on the floor. Now one thing that I like to say I do have when driving are observational skills – so when the set of Xenons came into view behind me at a discreet distance, I took a long look in the mirror. They seemingly appeared from nowhere (which would indicate they were going fast), and yet didn’t catch me. Nor did they drop back.
Gently easing back to 75mph on this NSL stretch, I waited to see what would happen – that knot in my stomach already starting to tighten, even though this wasn’t a positive sighting yet. At the next illuminated roundabout I approached, I could just make out the car following was a silver current-model Vectra, and for me, that amounted to a positive ID.
For another three miles, the car remained behind me – and on this now single carriageway stretch with varying limits, I decided to stick to the limit, plus ten per cent, just to see how this would pan out. And then, as we approached a built up area, the blues and twos came on, with me pulling to the side as soon as it was safe to do so. The ensuing chat was polite and business-like, and after asking me if I’d been drinking, and whether I knew why I’d been tugged (yes I did), a quick licence and vehicle check had me on my way again without even a telling off…
I didn’t even feel aggrieved really, because I did deserve it – and at the same time, it was a reminder that intervention with a traffic officer is always going to be preferable to the cold, hard, clinical timed diffidence of a ‘safety’ camera. And the reason why… it’s called judgement.
So be careful out there, and if you must speed – as we invariably do – then keep a very close eye on your mirrors.
Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...
Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.