Those of you who have me as a friend on facebook, would know that I was caught by a speed camera a few weeks ago. (And those of you who don't send me an email, and we'll fix that).
It was a Monday evening, about 6pm, it was raining heavily, and I had just come back from a days' work at a customer site in London. I had gone to my wife's office to pick up the car, picked my daughter up from day care, and decided to do the nice thing, and pick up my wife from work, so she wouldn't have to walk in the rain. I was clocked doing 37 mph in a 30 mph zone. In my defence, I have always thought the speed limit on that road was 40 mph.
Fortunately, instead of getting 3 points on my newly acquired license (which would have led to increased insurance premiums), and paying a £60 fine, I have been offered a 2 1/2 hour speed awareness course for £74, which I have gladly accepted. Coincidentally, there is a recent article about this course on the BBC News website, here.
Speed cameras are meant to make roads safer, and reduce accidents. However, in my case, this whole episode has, if anything, made me a bit more reckless on the roads. Let me explain.
Anyone who knows me, knows I do not speed when driving. If anything, I can be accused of driving too slowly (and my wife does this on a regular basis). I have always driven like this, at university, I was called 'family driver' by my friends, due to the fact that I was driving like I had my family in the car, and was being careful/slow. So, I'm not exactly a 'boy racer' or a daredevil. However, on occassion, when driving on slower roads, I tend to lose concentration, and go over the speed limit every now and then, not by much, but I do go over the limit.
Well guess what? The speed cameras do not enforce at the beginning of the zone. In a 30 mph zone, that means that you don't get caught unless you're doing 35 mph or more. 46 mph in a 40 mph zone, 57 mph in a 50 mph zone, 68 mph in a 60 mph zone and a whopping 79 mph in a 70 mph zone. Plus, Thames Valley Police has 330 fixed speed cameras, of which only 22 are in action at any one time. (According to the BBC article mentioned above) So the probability of you getting caught if you are speeding? 6.6 %. Just oveer 1 in 20. The engineer/mathematican in me tells me that in the event that even if I'm over the 'real' limit, the odds are in my favour.
Please note that the figures above are for Tmaes Valley Police Speed cameras, I can't confirm for other police forces.
Unlike a lot of people, I'm a fan of speed cameras. I don't like people who speed, I think it's dangerous, and I've seen how bad driving can destroy lives, not only for the drivers, but for innocent people as well. Left to me, more speed cameras the better. If I'm over the limit, I should be punished, because I'm breaking the law.
So to find out that the cameras are not as effective as I thought, I'm actually quite dissapointed.
You're only offered the speed awareness course if you're caught in the first few mph of the enforcement zone:
30 mph zone - 35 -39 mph
40 mph zone - 46-50 mph
50 mph zone - 57-61 mph
60 mph zone - 68-72 mph
70 mph zone - 79 -83 mph
Anthing higher than that, and you have no option but the points and the fine. Points on your license translate to higher insurance premiums. Plus, you can only do the course once every 3 years.
Let's just hope I don't get caught again anytime soon. Otherwise, I'll be seriously considering buying this.