Go, speed racer, go !!

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.


  1. hey bro..heheh didnt know about this whole episode i must confess..hmm hey go for the camera spray..:-) bet that would go down well at top gear!:-)...hope family r all ok "family driver"...

  2. So what's the difference between a 70 and 80 limit zone then? [according to the speed cams].

  3. @sppadic: I thought I told you.

    @Azuka: Legally, 70 mph is the fastest you can drive in this country.

  4. Did they tell you all this on the course? It disturbs me a little that they are trying to deter the lesser offenders by telling them how bloody useless the system is...

  5. @Rob: Nope. I got all this information from the letters they sent me when I got the ticket, and the wonderful, wonderful Internet !!

  6. Wow, that was lucky, getting to do a course instead! V interesting info there. Technically I've been 'caught' a few times over the speed limit, but have never received a letter or fine, so must be what you mentioned above.
    I agree with you about speed cameras and reckless driving though. Yet there are so many idiot-drivers out there :|

  7. Yes, here you can go to "traffic school" which is an 8-hour deal - you can go once every 18 months to get the ticket removed from your record.

  8. Oh, you got caught by those speed camera's. Pele. I'm sure you'll be more careful now. Getting one of those flashes and then a letter in the post some days letter always does that to you.

    Wish my man had been given the option of that course. We've been caught twice in the past 2 years and thats 6points so far. Trying very hard to avoid another in the nearest or distant future.

    Regards to la famille. Cheers.

  9. [...] Calabar Gal: Oh, you got caught by those speed camera’s. Pele. I’m sure you’ll be more careful now.... [...]

  10. Free Logic Thinker4 September 2007 at 16:56

    Your story is biased and brain washed by those guys at the speed awareness course, who’s to say one persons views are right over another’s You are associating safe driving as being a figure in mph, anything over know as Speeding as bad driving, the concept of driving fast, safe and smooth obviously eludes you road conditions, weather, time of day are different, and most importantly driver skill levels vary widely, 70mph to you probably feels like 100mph to me. People get caught speeding because they fail to acknowledge information made aware to them ,cameras sites are sign posted either fixed camera or to let u know they can and usually do enforce with mobile if they please and temporary camera sites partnerships have to display a speed enforcement sign, to inform the public + websites are available on the internet. I slow down for villages town’s ect but what harm does one cause to go over 70mph when the conditions allow, the Germans proved this with their Autobahn network. People who tail gate, do 60mph then brake then indicate just as they turn off, people who don’t look and pull out at roundabouts junctions, switching lanes, turn in-front of without looking are far more dangerous + many other bad habits. People who were prone to speeding before being caught don’t stop after they get caught, speaking for experience here + know loads more, just teaches you not to do it in enforced areas. People who are antisocial idiots, reckless , inconsiderable bad drivers before, added to their inappropriate speed does make a bad combination but as they say don’t tar people with the same brush, Police Motorcyclist and Advanced drivers speed are they dangerous, do they deserved to be punished ? is it impossible for others to posses similar driving ability?