I will not claim to be the world’s greatest car driver. I have had the odd prang now and then and collected, admittedly 15 years ago, some speeding penalty points and I had a few near misses too. But I do wonder what you need to do to fail a driving test these days.
Yesterday, in what is becoming a weekly event, I received the wanker sign from a BMW driver for having the temerity to be in the correct lane and indeed stay in it. (Anyone who has been on the Sainsbury’s roundabout by the MOD gravy train buildings will know where and what I mean.) I drove up the M32 this morning, a road which has severe speed limits from its beginnings near Cabot Circus to near the Filton exit, not that you would know there were any limits at all from the number of vehicles tearing past way in excess of the limits. And don’t start me on motorcycles, the riders of which seem oblivious to speed limits and, like many of their pedal powered friends, use traffic lights as a basis for negotiation. Contrast with my experiences of driving round Bristol and adjoining areas during the week.
A few weeks ago, I was approaching the small village of Timsbury in Somerset when I noticed a police officer at the junction of the main road holding a speed camera. Given he was standing on a ‘give way’ junction and that his motorcycle was all over the pavement, I did think it odd that he was trying to catch people driving at more than 30 MPH. It seemed an odd use of resources when you see some of the high speed maniacs driving on the Avon Ring Road at any time of the day.
On a daily basis, I see the static speed camera van, catching people out, collecting sums of money from people barely exceeding the speed limit and it really bugs me. This is not traffic policing, as such. It is a means of fundraising.
I once spoke to a police officer who told me that it was not worth bothering to police certain areas in terms of speeding because it would generate other work, such as stolen or unlicensed and uninsured vehicles. Much easier to catch someone doing 26 in a 20 limit, far less (almost no) paperwork to complete, but another criminal to add to the list to allow the home secretary to point out how the government has been cracking down.
Due to matters of resource, I doubt that the police are able to fight things like crime so it must be reassuring there is still money to pay for scamera operators. You don’t catch the real criminals but it brings in a lot of money, so that’s a good thing, isn’t it?