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The Laz Word....on speed camera

Larry Neild on lovely Devon coppers and the conscience of the driving classes

Published on August 9th 2010.


The Laz Word....on speed camera

Should Merseyside abandon its 32 speed cameras and 29 traffic-light cameras, all eagerly waiting to snap a juicy, money-earning photo of the back of your car?

I like the idea of making all roads in Liverpool 20mph, apart from dual carriageways where the limit, if suitable can be 30. Motorways (especially those with bus stops and shops) should remain at 70mph.

Those metallic cameras, with their tell-tale yellow ‘brains’ are seen as a money earner for the authorities, a form of surrogate taxation on unsuspecting motorists, raking in millions of pounds a year in fixed penalties.

Ever since speed limits were introduced on Britain’s roads motorists have been tempted to step on the gas.

Police years ago had mobile radar sites, often positioned just out of sight, roadside honeytraps, with the fines all going to the national treasury.

A USAF officer based at Burtonwood once gave me a clever remedy to avert being nabbed by the radar traps: place rolled-up balls of metal foil inside your hub cab. According to this helpful American, when a car went through the invisible ray the meter went berserk because of the tiny balls. I never did try out the theory.

On a long, long run from Dover to Devon (I thought it was only ‘just a few miles along the coast’ I crawled most of the way before hitting a fast dual carriageway on the approach to Plymouth. It was after 11pm and I needed a hotel.

My foot hit the floor in what was a 50mph area. Blue light behind. This is how the conversation went:

PC: Do you know what speed you were doing?

Laz: 70

PC: Why were doing 70?

Laz: That’s the speed limit on the motorway

PC: Oh, so the road you were travelling on was a motorway?

Laz: Yes

PC: Where do you come from, Liverpool? Do you have motorways there?

Laz: Yes.

PC: And do the motorways in Liverpool have things like corner shops, and bus stops and houses alongside.

Laz: Hmm, not sure

PC: It’s not surprising you didn’t see anything at your speed of 90.

The really nice PC accepted my sincerest and humble apologies and sent me on my way with a ticking off on the promise I would never exceed the speed limit during my stay in Devon.

Today, on Britain’s even busier roads, speeding cars are a problem. Speed cameras do slow us down.

Except many drivers get past the camera and speed up.

I like the idea of making all roads in Liverpool 20mph, apart from dual carriageways where the limit, if suitable can be 30. Motorways (especially those with bus stops and shops) should remain at 70mph.

On a recent trip to the US I was in one town where at school times the limit, even on fast freeways, is 15mph within a few hundred yards of any school.

I’d like the police to go even further: introduce ‘sin bins’ for inconsiderate drivers who weave in and out or tailgate motorists in an intimidating way. Putting them in a roadside lay-by for an hour or so, reading the Highway Code, will soon bring them down to zero.

More controls, though, would be accompanied by better systems to keep traffic moving. Traffic light junctions that turn red for all routes to allow non-existent pedestrians to cross would be banned. I’d allow left-turning traffic to treat red lights as a give way sign, as they do in many countries.

And I’d spend a fortune on new cycle lanes to provide a fast and safe alternative to the infernal combustion engine.

Speed cameras to go? Of course not, they are our roadside conscience.

Government figures show the cost of a fatal accident costs £1.6m. This includes police and emergency services time and loss of earnings of the dead person.

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17 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousAugust 9th 2010.

Lock 'em up!

Tony SchumacherAugust 9th 2010.

Alas I'm doomed either way...I'll scuttle off back to the shadows!

Tony SchumacherAugust 9th 2010.

Everyone is a critic!

AnonymousAugust 9th 2010.

Why not allow women drivers to use bus lanes. Good idea that.

Miss S NailAugust 9th 2010.

Taxis are among the worst speeding offenders. They have this Death Race 2000 mentality as they head back to town at weekends at breakneck speed to collect half p***** clubbers.

Joseph BaxeyAugust 9th 2010.

Taxi Driver moves 999 ambulance because it was in his way!www.google.com/…/ALeqM5ibW5nUobe2Eq5wTT8ISA6Qsco5BQ…

AnonymousAugust 9th 2010.

I agree, lets keep cameras and also reduce the urban speed limit to 20. It was on the telly last night that in Oxfordshire, where they have turned off the cameras, speeding has increased significantly. We need protecting from ourselves, and from each other.

Sturmey ArcherAugust 9th 2010.

The troublesome sort of cyclists don't understand the rules of the road Dig, that's why they inflict terror on the pavements. The police should apply on-the-spot fines for people riding bicycles on the pavement

Marquess of GranbyAugust 9th 2010.

I said no such thing!

DigAugust 9th 2010.

Cyclists are the worst offenders (although not for speeding). Red lights don't exist for them. Roads and pavements are both fair game for them to get to their destination that little bit quicker. I wonder how many cyclists actually drive a car and understand the rules of the road? I think if a cyclist doesn't have a driving licence or has passed a cycling provisioncy test they shouldn't be allowed on the road. Would you let your children out on busy city streets or main roads if they didn't understand the rules of the road? How can a cyclist keep themselves and other road users safe if they don't know how to use the road properly?

AnonymousAugust 9th 2010.

Marquess I was being polite. I didn't want to actully say Granby Street, but if you insist.

ProDriverAugust 9th 2010.

Sunday drivers! They are the worst of all, in their little neat Micras, doing about 18 as they head to boring shops on the retail parks. Even their little pedal cars look terrified to be out on the roads. Here's an idea - why don't they walk (they'd get there in just the same time) and leave the roads to those of us who can handle heavy traffic. Alternativel let them display 'S' signs on their cars to let everyone know they are Sunday drivers out for a run, though I use the word run reservedly.

WappingAugust 9th 2010.

Driving instructors don't teach people to drive properly, they teach them to pass the Test. Things like knowing what's going on around (including behind) them and why they should care are totally missing from today's young Schumachers' skill sets. As for the cameras, of course some are very useful but getting points for doing 39 in a 30 zone on a clear road at 4am on a Tuesday is insane - cameras don't do discretion, isn't that what traffic police are for?

Victor VauxhallAugust 9th 2010.

Wht do journalists always hold up the backward U.S. as something we should unquestioningly copy? It would make far more sense for us to use civilised countries in Europe as our exemplar.

WappingAugust 9th 2010.

Is that your bobby's helmet showing there TS or are have you got your cabbie's hat on?

Peg LeggeAugust 9th 2010.

The law must have been changed already to allow shaven-headed, bull-necked men with tattoos to park their expensive black cars in disabled spaces.

AnonymousAugust 9th 2010.

I often see cars pulling up in the middle of the road so the drivers can have conversations with friends (customers!) they see on the sidewalk. It's as though they don't care. This happens a lot in L8. I feel like winding down the window and shouting, excuse me, this is Princes Park it's not the bleedin' Bronx. But let's be honest, would you want to join in their conversations. Easier just to wait patiently.

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