Monday, October 10, 2011

Speeding, its fun yes, but dangerous too.

OK I shall start by acknowledging how hypercritical I sound by even writing this entry, but I thought it was needed. It all came about when I was driving down the M1 last night on the way home from Derby. To be more precise, while I was stuck in a huge tailback lol.

Since I started driving I have done lots of stupid things, had a few bumps, and I am ashamed to say a couple of speeding tickets. But at the same time there are also a lot of occasions that I have not be stopped for speeding, but driven like an idiot all the same. For someone aspiring to get a job in the motoring industry and be governed by the DSA this is probably a stupid thing to say, but in my eyes it retrospective and educational.

I would think that its fair to say that at least 90% of drivers have, and quite regularly exceed the speed limit. With about 15-20% of them doing it knowingly, intentionally and in excess of 20% over the limit. This has been recognised in a very open way, and the intended raising of the motorway speed limit to 80mph reflects the recognition of the new "average" speed on the UK's motorways. However it is also fair to say that it is far from uncommon these days to be passed by vehicles WAY in excess of 100mph. A speed I too have driven at, and been caught and punished for.

I dont honestly know where this entry is going, but I guess the point of it is to say this. I have been driving for over 20 years now. In this time I have received 6 points for speeding, driven all kinds of cars in all kinds of fashions, but over time have matured somewhat. My cruise control now sits at 70mph on the motorways these days, and I rarely find the need to drive in any form of aggressive manner (im talking hard driving, not road rage). So being an onlooker now, I am constantly surprised at what people do behind the wheel of their cars.

The roads have become an increasingly dangerous place. With cars getting safer, lighting being better, road surfaces improved (in some cases anyway) you would think the opposite, but just like anything there is always room for human error. And sadly we humans have a habit of scrweing things up, thats why manufacturers use robots. We get tired, disinterested, distracted, and mentally wander off somewhere else. Which at the wheel of a car is a worry.

If im honest, I dont think the speed is the issue, its the drivers and their distractions that are the biggest worry. Doing 100mph on a quiet piece of motorway is illegal, period, but... and its a BIG but... If the road conditions permit it, and traffic is light, its does not have to result in a crash. The police travel on the motorways at 120-150mph regularly, granted with blue lights and sirens going, but these dont make it safer, just more visible. A blow out will still cause a scare or a big accident, a driver not paying attention and pulling into their path will still cause an accident, but travelling at that speed will NOT cause the car to self destruct, or immediatly crash. its the human element, and the unknown, unpredicability of the people you are sharing the road with that is most likely to cause problems.

Throwing your car from lane to lane at 90+ is going to end in tears at some point, driving unroadworthy cars at speed, or even regularly is irresponsible, and will not only cause issues for you, but probably at some point for other people too, in the aftermath of your catastrophic accident or breakdown. Common sense evades people these days. Only last night I watched a man in all dark clothing running up a single lane in a contraflow back to his broken down car, at night. He was greeted by a Highways Agency officer who was less than impressed, and told him how he felt about it.

So in short what I think I am saying is... There is a time and a place for everything, and I have sometimes got that decision wrong, and for that and anyone I inconvinienced, I am sorry and recognise I acted like a dick. I have enjoyed high speeds in cars at the right times and places, and understand the thrill, the buzz, and why people would want to do it. But after so long driving now, and being in a position where I am happy to get there alive, not buzzing with adrenaline, finally I can see how dangerous it all really is. So many innocent people are affected by the stupidity of others, from long delays to hospitalisation or even death, just because someone wants to drive too fast for the condition, or cant be bothered to maintain their car.

So for me, I am hanging up my stupid cap, and becoming a fully fledged member of the sensible drivers association. But not without a final plea. Please drive according to the road conditions, be thoughtful of others, drive a safe car, and as Hampshire Police told me... 'Arrive Alive'

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