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Hoses of the Holy in the Parallel Universe

December 06, 2005


I woke up this morning, looked in the mirror and discovered that I am still a bloke, so here is another motoring story. Sorry.

Older readers will remember that, since July, there have been major roadworks on the M1, both sides, just South of Leicester between Junctions 21 and 20. The Highways Agency installed "Average Speed Check" cameras along this stretch and instituted a 40 mph speed limit.

For most drivers, 40 mph feels like having hot needles inserted under your fingernails. And there are two schools of thought on the "Average Speed Check" camera. A percentage of drivers clearly doesn't really believe in them. They think they're dummy cameras with no innards, or they think they can't possibly recognise number plates passing them at 60-70mph.

On the other hand, I should think that most people in Snottingham know (or know of) at least one person who has been fined as a result of the use of the same kind of cameras on the A610, which is the main road into Snottingham from the motorway. The speed limit for most of its length is 30mph, which fools a lot of drivers, who think that - as a dual carriageway - the speed limit is going to be 40. It was one of the most lucrative stretches of road in the country, but these roadworks have it beat.

On the M1 even now, there's an ebb and flow to the traffic which you can predict - people are still slowing down for the cameras, even though the signs clearly state, Average Speed Check.

Looking for the reason an hour was added to my journey time last night, I found this story, from early in the life of the roadworks. Back in the heady days of August, when we were young and carefree, the BBC reported that 2,000 fines had been issued in a fortnight. At £60 a pop, that's £120,000, thangyou, ker-ching.

These roadworks have been there for 23 weeks, around about. Since the start of July, and they're still there (should have finished last month). Even if the average rate of fining is a more conservative 500 per week, they've raised £690,000 and issued 34,500 penalty points. Divided by the 12 points it takes to lose your licence (is it?), that's around 2,875 lost licences. The points will probably be more evenly distributed, which means there are thousands of people who will have to think carefully for the next 36 months.

I said to my wife at the beginning of the roadworks, some of these people are going to lose their driving licences in two or three days. Because by the time the letters drop onto the doormat after even one week of the roadworks -if you've ignored them every day - it would be too late.

So that's good work, isn't it? A kind of baby seal cull of the more stupid and arrogant people on the roads.


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