Wednesday, 18 February 2009


Meandering homewards the other day, I noted the presence of four uniformed members of our local Constabulary, lurking in a side turning, with a Speed Gun aimed at the traffic on the main road. It set me thinking. They'd chosen what seemed a strange location for a speed trap, just short of a busy, traffic-light-controlled, junction where the traffic stream splits between straight-on and a right-turn lane. Not much opportunity to exceed the 30mph limit there in daytime traffic conditions.

But this isn't really about catching, or deterring, speeding drivers, is it? It's about being seen to do something. We live in a box-ticking age, my friends, and this little exercise works roughly as follows:

  • Late at night, especially at weekends, this bit of road is sometimes used as a bit of a racetrack by the local Boy Racers, with their silly exhausts and thumping stereos.
  • Local residents get understandably narked about this and raise the issue with Councillors and the Residents' Association.
  • In due course, the concerns are relayed to the local Police Commander. "The residents of Bloggs Street are bothered by anti-social speeding drivers."
  • So, when the local cop-shop has a few spare officers on the day shift, they send them out with the speed gun to haunt a local road.
  • Result? They stop a few drivers and lecture them earnestly about the deadly danger of doing 32mph. Job done!

But hang on a minute....wasn't the original problem Boy Racers going Vroom Vroom late at night?

Maybe so, but the point is that (a) "we're doing what the community wants"; (b) a number of Fixed Penalty Notices have been issued; (c) it's much safer to send the officers onto the road in broad daylight; (d) the night shift are busy dealing with fights outside pubs & clubs; (e) by doing it in the daytime, we can invite the occasional local busybody to join us, parade about in a yellow jacket and play with the speed gun; (f) the people caught will mostly be local residents, so we'll be able to feed the local paper with patronising claptrap about how every motorist is a deadly sinner.

Many boxes duly ticked!

Meanwhile, on Friday night, the boy racers with their silly exhausts and thumping stereos will still practice their handbrake turns around that junction, and the local residents will still wonder why nothing's being done about their concerns.

Ho hum!
(lest you wonder ... No, they haven't got me. No sour grapes here. Just irritation at the waste of resources!)

1 comment:

Matthew Rudd said...

I've always said that the political party which pledges to scrap speed cameras, mobile or fixed, would walk a general election. The cameras are part of the problem, not the solution.