Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Fine By Me

Imagine you entered the ‘Dragon’s Den’ television programme with a proposal that depended on a seemingly endless supply of people willing to break the law on an improbable scale as the basis of your money making scheme, you just might just get laughed off the show.

You surely couldn’t find such people.
Well – You could.
They are known as motorists. And they simply won’t stop breaking the law when it comes to the speed limit.

A camera on the M6 near Carlisle, installed along with cones, barriers and signs as part of a system to protect workers carrying out repairs, is expected to net £168,000 from fines issued up to last week.
In total, 5,569 motorists were caught breaking the 50mph limit. But because of limited resources, only those driving faster than 60mph - about 2,800 people - will be prosecuted.

Claire Armstrong, co-founder of the Pressure group Safe Speed- which campaigns against the use of speed cameras – had a different, if predictable, take on it saying,
"We're pretty disgusted. It's obviously got nothing to do with road safety.”
But in this case however, we’re talking about the safety of motorway workers. And you would like to think that driver might consider this. But they don’t. They drive up each other’s arses like myopic sheep.

She added, "You don't measure safe driving in miles per hour"
But driving through a half a mile of roadworks at 70mph rather than 50mph saves you all of ten seconds. Not even enough time to make a call on your mobile.

She also claimed that, "The fact it's raising so much revenue will add to the police/public divide and continue to make people believe it's just about making money."
But it’s the law! You have the choice whether to break it or not.

Using the dodgy ploy of analogy, Safe Speed poses the following on their website:

“Would you use a hammer to fix a clock?”
“Would you use a speed camera to improve road safety?”
“Neither would we. They are both the wrong tool for the job”.

On the other hand:

Would you use a hammer to fix a clock?
Depends on the size of the clock e.g. the Great Clock of Westminster.
Would you use a speed camera to improve road safety?
Maybe not. But I might use it to penalise drivers who break the law and raise a few quid at the same time.
So might we. They may in these circumstances be the right tools for the job

If organisations such as Safe Speed can produce scientific evidence to support their case – then the Government should listen. But if drivers continue to get caught speeding there will be little incentive for cash-strapped councils to remove the cameras.

What would Walter Arnold make of it all? Walter, of East Peckham in Kent, was the first person to be convicted of speeding in the UK. On January 28, 1896 he was fined for speeding at 8 mph (13 km/h), thus exceeding the contemporary speed limit of 2 mph (3.2 km/h). He was fined 1 shilling plus costs.