Friday, 15 April 2011

In which I surprise myself

You know the driver that you get stuck behind on a narrow road, the one who potters along sedately, somewhere just below the speed limit, untempted by long empty stretches of road in front, and to whom the notion of pulling over to let you overtake just wouldn't occur? The male of the species usually wears a tweedy hat; the female is a little short, sometimes having to peer through, rather than over, the steering wheel, and is sometimes me.

As I get older, my driving gets slower; some of this is because my route to the supermarket takes me past a speed camera, and, when going in the opposite direction, past a regular hiding place for a mobile speedtrap van. I know I'm a pootler, and I do try not to be too annoying about it, but I'm careful about speed and fuel consumption, and with a cycling son, extra alert for bikes.


So I was surprised and peeved when an unpleasantly-worded letter arrived recently from Northumbria Police, informing me that I had been driving at the speed of light 38 mph in the Middle of Nowhere, Northumberland, when I took Flossie to visit Fran. Me, speeding!

The letter is clearly composed to head off the angry and argumentative (not me; I'm all too quick to put my hand up to an offence, even if I am later reminded that I was an innocent passenger). Every line of feeble defence is countered in advance.

I was tickled to read that if I remained unconvinced of my guilt, I could view my offence online, where the filmed record of my transgression would be available to me. (I would love love love to know how many people log in to do just that. I bet they heckle their computer disbelievingly as they watch.)

But I responded to the threatening, accept-no-arguments letter, admitting meekly that yes, I was that driver, speeding along an empty road between sea and fields, dog in the back of the car, making nose marks on the windows. Serves me right; I have little or no sympathy with anyone ignoring the speed limit - but I just didn't think it would be me.

Another letter arrived; penalty time. I could choose between a £60 fine and three points on my licence, or I could take the Speed Awareness Course.


Which costs £84.

The key benefits of choosing this option are listed, including the opportunity to discuss my driving beliefs. Hmmmm....I've been very thoughtful since the leaflet arrived, examining those driving beliefs. Perhaps they've been entirely misguided, self-deluding.  Maybe I'm really a middle-aged speedster, a ruthless road hog, a reckless jumper of lights, engine-revving screecher of tyres, doing 0-60 in a nano-second, yet all the time believing that I am a sedate and steady driver.

Maybe those nose marks on the windows are not a sign of Flossie's placid gazing at the scenery, but an urge to hang her tongue excitedly out of the window and whoop "Faster, faster!"

(favourite brooch)

But I prefer to think I was just careless; I chose the fine and the penalty points. My driving beliefs may have to go unchallenged for now. I shall just pootle more carefully.

PS: I sound terribly conceited in this post; really, I would never pretend to be a good driver, just  - or so I thought - a speed-aware one.....

20 comments:

Toffeeapple said...

A similar thing happened to my partner, he was found to be doing 35mph in the middle of nowhere when the limit was 30. He chose to do the course to save his license (I think). It is easy to go faster than intended if you are off in a reverie.

frayedattheedge said...

I was all set to read an amusing account of your course ..... until I scrolled down far enough to see what it cost, and guessed you would just pay the fine! Malcolm says you have his sympathies - he got caught by a speed camera some years ago as we drove home from Glasgow airport. It was about four in the morning, not another car in sight. Stuart was once given a parking ticket in the middle of the night!

the veg artist said...

Also guilty, years ago.

I don't suppose you'd like to put the link so that we can all see you breaking the speed limit ....No? OK.

Sue said...

You have to pay for the course?! I thought doing it was the punishment. You may be avoiding the points but how can they say you're avoiding the fine?

I'd love to see it too!

Dan said...

Grr, this really annoys me. In North Wales we have a huge amount of camera vans and speed traps, but they always seem to catch the inadvertently speeding people on their way to work/holidaymakers (due to careful positioning) and not the boy racers who scream around with apparent disregard for any other road users.
Dan
-x-
(PS.maybe you could appeal by sending in a picture of Flossie with her toy)

Fran said...

All I know is, I wish AA DriveTech would get a copywriter to tidy up their leaflet. Their tick points are all over the grammatical place and there's a missing apostrophe. They should slow down a bit and get it right, tell 'em.

rachel said...

I would have posted the link to the film of the heinous offence, but the information required to log in to view it was contained in the letter I had to sign and return to the police.....

flwrjane said...

I always suspected a wild child hiding inside. I thought you were keeping her hidden till I came to visit, but no.

You and Flossie running on empty, running wild.

I'm sorry, but I'm amused.

xo Jane

June said...

No way you could shift the blame to Flossie, as a young and inexperienced driver, is there? Is it VERY CLEAR in the video that she is NOT driving?

HAZEL said...

I want that brooch!

BumbleVee said...

hahhaha....love your brooch.....

Juanita said...

Wow - a whole 38mph! You speedster, you.
That's the very minimum speed limit here in South Africa :-)

I love that brooch...it's so quirky!

lovethosecupcakes said...

Husband here was done for doing 34 in a 30 mph zone (and initially blamed me though we soon worked out he'd been driving at the time of said offence). He opted to do the course, with strict instructions from me not to crack any jokes whilst he was there. Someone I know did that and was threatened with arrest.

Preseli Mags said...

Blimey sixty quid and three points for a miserable 8mph. Next time put your foot down and get your money's worth!

Seriously though it does take such concentration to stick exactly to the limits especially when going from 40mph to 30mph. I sometimes wonder if that level of attention might be better applied to looking out of the car at the road ahead.

judy in ky said...

Who is behind AA Drive Tech? They must be making a fortune.

Poshyarns said...

Oh I love that brooch, fabulous, do you know who it is by?

I am one of those very smug non-speeders who is continually overtaken by those people who seem to have special speed limit exemption certificates, not sure how they get them but surely that must be why they sail past me in the 30mph zone only for me to undoubtedly catch them up at the next set of lights!

My Technical Advisor is a serial speeder and has done one of those speed awareness courses, he was involved in a accident right outside the centre, someone drove into the back of him!

Lucille said...

Me too 34 mph with a speed gun, going down a hill. Those points took forever to shift.

Pam said...

I was mightily stung too for going 5 k's over the the stated 50k speed limit. (Normal speed limit her in the city is 60k's.) No choices for courses, just a hefty fine. Seems revenue raising is the same the world over.

Marcheline said...

Great brooch!

I got nailed twice by the same camera, because a) I didn't know it was there and b) it took over a week for them to send my $50 ticket in the mail, so I hadn't received the first one before I transgressed again! Big Brother IS watching... sigh...

elizabethm said...

I got done for doing 37mph and I did do the speed awareness course! Some of it was quite interesting especially as the afternoon was spent driving with an instructor from the Advanced Institute of Motoring. I think they have quashed that part of the course now on the grounds of cost and spend more time examining your beliefs. I don't think it has made any difference at all to the way I drive!

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