Speed Kills | Automotive Writing
Speed kills … I detest that phrase, if nothing else, it just shows an ignorance or lack of understanding; speed doesn’t kill – just ask Wing Commander Andy Green (current holder of the World land speed record – 763.035mph).
But “inappropriate speed kills” doesn’t quite have the same snappy ring to it, does it? I’ve piloted vehicles at speeds north of 2.5x the national speed limit, actually getting closer toward three times the national limit, and I’m still here.
Am I telling you this to ‘brag’? Not at all. (and as I’m being deliberately elusive about the details, you can’t possibly make judgement)
It’s just that … there are so many points to be made, arguments to be had, remonstrations to be done, all in the name of putting a case forward to show that despite what you may read in some popular tabloids or press releases from road safety charities, speeding (when appropriate) shouldn’t be seen as similar to murdering someone.
My job is to write about all things car & motorcycle related … a wide-ranging brief that could be reporting on the rise of electric vehicles one day, or the most expensive number plate sold the next.
A recent article for PetrolPrices got me thinking though. It was about the rise (and fall) of the speed camera, or as they’re now called for political reasons, the “safety” camera. It wasn’t so much about what I was writing, although I did surprise myself by my conclusion, but more about the reactions of the readers; two firm camps – speeders, and non-speeders.
I admit, when I was younger, I drove like I was using the last drop of petrol available to mankind, it didn’t matter whether I had 50 horsepower or 500 horsepower, every single one of them would be used and abused, 3-figure speeds on the open roads weren’t just easy, they were almost normal, my immature brain revelling in the fact that I was such a hot-shoe.
The highest speed I attained? It was genuinely on an unrestricted stretch of a German autobahn, an indicated 204mph.
I no longer have the kind of vehicles that spur me on to such silliness, although my daily driver is still capable of reaching well over 100mph, it’s just that I’m happy just trawling along at 60mph on motorways, with the occasional burst of speed if it’s needed.
My body tells me that I’m growing old, my brain is saying that I’m not even middle-aged yet, I certainly don’t consider myself as ‘old’, but I must admit, driving fast doesn’t really entertain me anymore, or perhaps I should rephrase that … driving fast on a regular basis, on my daily chores, to the shops or what-have-you, just doesn’t seem like it’s worth it … I’d rather arrive relaxed and stress-free.
With that said, there needs to be some clarification; ‘making progress’ on good roads (forget motorways and big dual-carriageways) is the norm, but it isn’t so much about the higher speed, but rather just keeping up a good average speed.
I have a clean licence, I’ve had that for some time, the last speeding conviction I had was in 2003, although there was a close call back in 2017.
Travelling back from Lincolnshire one night, 12:58AM, I was literally the only car on the road for some miles, I passed through a speed camera at 68mph in a 60mph zone. Was that inappropriate? I don’t believe so. And according to the ‘higher-ups’, nor do they – with NPCC guidelines recommending a 10+2 tolerance (that’s 10% + 2mph). I should have been OK at that speed, but still got caught.
As I’d had a clean licence for so long, I was offered a Speed Awareness course, at the cost of £90 I believe. I felt aggrieved that I had to attend, that it cost me £90, and that I didn’t learn anything (other than they teach you that 1mph over a limit is hellfire and brimstone). Would I have been prosecuted had it been a real live police person that stopped me? Very very doubtful.
And that’s my issue with cameras – if they were produced with some degree of AI that could distinguish between speeding and inappropriate speeding, I’d be all for them, but they aren’t. Thankfully, their use is massively in decline, being replaced with smarter cameras that can catch not just speeding, but poor driving as well, and I’m all for that.