9 MAY 2022


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Article from BTNews 9 MAY 2022

COMMENT: Speeding and the motorist *

Your Editor-in-Chief has to admit that in recent times he was apprehended for speeding, 35mph on a Sunday morning in an empty main local thoroughfare.  He had no excuse and opted to pay a fine, and take a speed awareness course rather than have points on his licence.

The course, organised as a video link, was excellent and run by a retired civil servant with no police connection who made it very clear from the start that he was a keen motor cyclist and that if he was ever to be caught for speeding he would lose his job.  The organisers, Hertfordshire County Council, plan to continue with the scheme, originally created due to Covid-19.

There were nine participants, some more active than others in contributing to the conversation.  The course lasted three hours including a refreshment break with the proof of one’s participation staying on the record for 3½ years after which you have a clean driving licence.

The advice from BTN is that if you have broken the law and don’t wish to have points totted up against you, take the course.  You can only learn from the discourse.  

Asked by BTN's Editor-in-Chief if one’s driving ability declined with age the response by the course leader was that experience balanced out youthful exuberance. A driving refresher course was recommended and it did seem a good idea as an 80th birthday present.

Were you aware dear reader that a taxi driver was booked by the City of London Police for driving at 21mph?  The law is the law and whilst a Chief Constable can decide not to prosecute under special circumstances you can be charged as a speed offence for going at 71mph on a Motorway.

What was much more worrying, as discussed, was the steady proliferation of 20mph speed limits on main roads, and more road calming.  No one can question the use of speed limits outside schools but BTN does question the unbridled use of a speed limit slower than a sprint runner (Usain Bolt has been timed at nearly 28mph) on wide single lane carriageways.  Do we have a red flag next?

Those in favour note a saving in lives and analysis shows that in fact driving fast hardly saves any time.  The eco argument does not hold as we are now going quickly electric and the modern car is vastly less toxic than when BTN's Editor-in-Chief started motoring. Experienced motorists note that 21st century brakes are far superior, handling vastly better, and tyres are in a different league when it comes to stopping, particularly in the wet.  Speed limiters have been suggested for all cars making it impossible to go over 20mph in the suburbs. Technology would allow for it.  How does frustration fit into the Highways Code?

BTN was given short shrift when the question of cyclists was raised, road users who contribute zero to the cost of the highway and have no requirement to be insured.  Raising the subject was deemed outside the session’s remit.

The National Speed Awareness Course, costing £90, is a plus in the Department for Transport’s road safety armour.


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OUR READERS' FINEST WORDS (All times and dates are GMT)

All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum

John Scent, United Kingdom

Since speeding continues to be such a problem in the UK, perhaps it's a good idea that all new cars sold here will be fitted with GPS speed limiters from later this year.

Edward Harrison, England

I do wish people would stop with the "cyclists contribute nothng to road mainteance". The road fund licence is simply part of general taxation just like Insurance Premium Tax, VAT, Income Tax etc. - it all goes into one pot. The road fund licence is not hypothecated to fund the roads.

Allan Schoenherr, Prague, CZ

I do a lot of cycling and running (and walking I guess) in both the UK and Czech Republic and something I noticed recently was how much more considerate UK drivers are to pedestrians and cyclists than drivers in the Czech Republic. In the UK (Norfolk) I found drivers would slow and wait behind me until it was very safe to do so, respectful of the fact that operating a larger vehicle brings with it responsibility to ensure safety of other road users. In stark contrast to the attitude often found on Czech roads which is more "I'm bigger than you, you get out of my way". Having said that I am not sure why cyclists should pay any tax or be forced to buy insurance given that the amount of damage to the roads and environment causes by motor vehicles vs bicycles and the fact that it is much easier to injure other road users in a motor vehicle than on a bike?

Paul Valon, Mexico City

This is a subject that cannot be commented on in 100 words, so suffice to say that Common Sense, logic and fairness left the house a long time ago, never to return.

James Luckhurst,

I enjoyed the editorial about your speed awareness course. Weirdly, I appear in a video that’s shown on the course – all about stopping distances. All the best!