Know Your Limits

Know Your Limits

A speeding fine and 3 points on your licence doesn’t look good in any one’s “book” but with a government initiative offering first-time offenders the chance to have the slate wiped clean. Poppy Watt made an effort to find out more.

I wasn’t proud when I announced to my children that I was taking part in a speed awareness scheme, even though I would have liked them to believe it was their mother demonstrating to them that she was “doing her bit”. Nor was it an admission that I was keen to improve my driving skills.

No, the reality was that I had been caught speeding in a speed-controlled area and the only reason I was attending was that I had been given the opportunity to have the impending 3 points rescinded, which in these difficult times also meant my insurance costs wouldn’t take a “hammering”.

In truth, I was convinced it was all going to be a complete waste of time but it was the lesser of two evils!

My 2.5-hour session did not get off to a good start as I was late; the unreliability of our public transport system reminding why I choose to drive in the first place!

I entered sheepishly and took the last seat remaining at the front of a room populated by a mixed bunch of middle-aged men and women, my skepticism rising all the while. 

Our instructor introduced himself enthusiastically – an ex-police officer and now a motorcycle trainer who was very familiar with the dangers of speeding and reckless driving. As we settled into the course, I soon appreciated that his knowledge was impressive and the important points he made hit home with a cold clarity that surprised me. 

One particular area of the course involved analysing a road traffic accident, based upon a real-life event that had culminated in the death of a young child. We studied the photos of the crash site carefully. As you can imagine being a mother, I found it most upsetting and at one point I was contemplating a hasty exit from the room, such was my level of distress

In London, on average more than 4 people die in road collisions each week. Speeding is a factor in around a third of all collisions where someone is killed or seriously injured.

In Great Britain over 3,000 people die on the roads each year and over 300,000 are injured. Unfortunately for most of us, these statistics mean nothing – until we (or someone close to us) become one.

When I left the training session, I did so with a much better understanding of the speed camera concept; they are actually there for a legitimate reason and not just placed to catch us out!

Furthermore, pilot studies around the UK have shown a tendency for less re-offending after attendance of a Speed Awareness Workshop. Through discussion, training, and studying, the concept aims to reduce the number of collisions in which the excessive use of speed is the factor. The end result is the reduction of the number of deaths on the UK roads. 

There are 4 different types of safety camera;

Fixed roadside speed cameras – these are painted yellow and installed at sites where there is a history of a least three collisions in a three year period where someone has been killed or seriously injured. 

Red light safety cameras – these are placed where there is a history of someone having been killed or seriously injured due to drivers running a red light.

Mobile speed cameras – These are run from highly visible vans at emerging casualty hotspots and in areas of concern to the local community.

Digital safety cameras – These cameras are digitally linked to the Metropolitan Police. This means that offences are processed as soon as they happen.

In London , since the London Safety Camera Partnership has been established, casualties have reduced at safety camera sites by more than 50%.

I am happy to say that 16 police forces in the UK are currently offering speeding motorists a Speed Awareness Workshop as an alternative to 3points on their driving licence and approximately 80% of those offered the scheme choose to take it up.

My advice is not to speed at all. But if you do happen to break the law and are offered the chance to take the course then do it: you won’t be disappointed. 

If nothing else it is an education and that ultimately can only be a good thing. 

Poppy Watt

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