‘My name is Keith Adams, and I am a speeder.’
Seems like a foolish thing to say online, but I guess I should qualify that before I get inundated by complaints from readers accusing me of reckless endangerment. The truth is I was caught, and I’ve paid the price – in my case, a four-hour Speed Awareness Course.
It was New Year’s Eve, and I was driving back home from a few days’ break in Cumbria. I was driving along a quiet dualled section of the A66, not too far from Scotch Corner, on a sunny, cold afternoon. Like everyone around me, I was settled in a relaxed 85mph cruise in my quiet, cossetting and rather wonderful Citroen C6, thinking about the evening’s plans, contemplating whether traffic would scupper my intentions to get home at a reasonable hour.
I was concentrating on the road ahead, but not enough, clearly – and I spotted the white speed camera van in the lay-by just a little bit too late. Shucks… Unsurprisingly, a few days later, the Notice of Intended Prosecution arrived on my doorstep. I’d been clocked at 82mph on a 70mph stretch. Bang to rights, guv.
Like everyone offered one of these courses, I took it gratefully. Three points on my licence is far less desirable than spending four hours in a Peterborough classroom. Anyway, in reality, I had never resented being papped by the ‘van – it’s my first time caught speeding in the UK since 1998 – and it’s certainly not the first time I’ve been known to speed.
Needless to say, the course was very interesting indeed and, contrary to what you might expect, it wasn’t at all patronising. The AA was responsible for delivering the course content and, along the way, we were shown a very interesting video, which went on to say that stopping distance isn’t the major factor you should take into account, but the effect additional speed has on your potential impact… OK, that’s a little contrived, but it’s certainly an effective way of getting people to consider their speed and the result of even ‘marginal speeding’.
What was also highly interesting was the sheer lack of knowledge of our rules and regulations that a number of the people on the course had. Basic understanding of speed limits seemed missing in many people, as did an understanding of the hazards posed in daily driving. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a basic course, but all of the drivers on it were at an age and experience level that should see them through a day’s driving and know (pretty much) what the speed limit is in any given place and situation.
I certainly found the course to be exceptionally useful, and a great refresher in many ways – given what I do for a living, that’s never a bad thing. But what I’ve taken away from this is that I shouldn’t ever be complacent when driving, continue to be ever vigilant and expect the unexpected. Fingers crossed, it will allow me to maintain my clean (since 1998) driving licence.
It also backs up my opinion that there should be compulsory driving re-tests (or, at least, refreshers) for all drivers at least every ten years. Anyone who argues against regular driving checks clearly doesn’t spent enough time on the UK’s roads. Come one, who’s with me in getting this on the driving agenda?