Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Speeding

Driving back up the M50 tonight to my place of residence I couldn't help but notice I was really driving rather fast. Somewhat above the 120 km/h speed limit, in fact. I didn't feel remotely bad about this as there was absolutely no traffic around and my car felt well able for it. However, I was in no particular rush, as is sometimes the case when I break speed limits. More often than not though, I'm simply thinking it would be nice to have a cup of tea/ browse the net/ watch TV/go to bed/ see my ladyfriend ten minutes or so earlier than I would be able to do these things if I stuck to the speed limit.

All of which got me thinking: Do only assholes speed? Do only assholes, plus me, speed? Am I an asshole? It has been pointed out to me recently that I'm starting to become the kind of driver I've always given out about - speeding, lane-hopping for quick overtakes, tailgating (I really think I don't do that one but I'm told otherwise), even the occasional use of the phone. I recognise these things as wrong and try not to do them, but can't help wondering how others feel about the speeding issue. Doesn't everyone do it to some extent? Should we have laws more like Germany, where on parts of the autobahns you can do whatever bloody speed you want? Or are Irish people in general too incompetent as drivers to be trusted with that? It strikes me that people drive whatever speed they feel reasonably comfortable at, rather than what they are told to, particularly when its late at night and there is zero chance of being caught by a speed trap.

Which brings me to my next point: http://www.independent.ie/national-news/twothirds-of-speeding-drivers-get-off-the-hook-1367599.html
Recent figures showing that two thirds of drivers caught speeding get away without paying the fine or receiving any penalty points, simply by claiming they never got the summons of fine notice. Now, does this not make everyone incredibly ashamed of both our government and our police force? (Actually, mostly just the government, I'm certainly of the opinion that the average garda on the street is doing a wonderful job.) To me it just beggars belief that this can be the case. And it will surely get worse, now that the less cute whoors out there have been made aware of just how easy it is to get away with it. Despite my casual approach to speeding I have yet to be caught. But I fully accept that it will happen and, when it does, I believe I will hold my hand up and say "Fair cop guv". I really do think I hold the attitude of "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time."
This debate is already raging over at the Indo link I posted above but, if you're not speeding away already, I'd love to hear people's thoughts on this topic. Do you speed too? Does Brian Cowen speed? Is this speeding fine shambles the kind of thing that should bring down a government? Do we need a more liberal approach to speeding or a more zero-tolerance one? Am I just an asshole?

8 comment(s):

Darragh Doyle said...

There's a speed limit for a reason Andrew. Sorry, but unless you're rushing your pregnant wife/dying grandfather/president of Ireland who's just been shot to a hospital then there's no excuse. You're just not thinking of others, not realising how badly out of control your car could go at high speeds and how much damage it could cause and you're not being a responsible driver. And that's not good.

A discussion like this is though.

I know what you mean about the lack of prosecutions. I think people should be made aware a lot more of the harm caused by speeders - not just the tragedy of a death in the family but a visit to the rehabilitation hospitals where accident victims have to relearn to walk, or to see the damage of scars.

Everyone has to take responsibility for this, the GardaĆ­ need to have the backing of the public and the government but also the organisation and the right tools to effectively combat this.

In answer to your question, no to zero tolerance but as close as you can reasonably get.

Lottie said...

Firstly - I am oagree that speeding leads to a large percentage of road traffic accidents here in Ireland however I don't believe that it is the only contributing factor. We have a huge problem with aggressive and careless drivers. I refer mostly to the BMW, Merc and Range Rover drivers of the world who for some reason don't feel that the law applies to them. Being in an Industry where I deal with RTAs day in and day out I can say with certainty that they such luxury vehicles have a much higher liability ratio even in comparison to what we call the "boy racers".

Secondly, I do not subscribe to the belief that the GardaĆ­ are doing a "wonderful job". I appreciate that there their job is to patrol the streets & that paper work takes a back seat but when frivolous actions are taken against the wrong people due to lack of investigation who has to answer for it? The ACCUSED!!! They get footed with the bill of a defence that should never have had to have been raised! Unless they are entitled to legal aid - but in my experience being a decent tax payer on a 30k job and a mortgage disqualifies you form the privilege of legal aid while Mr. Coke-head in the corner is embraced with open arms.

And Finally ( I accept the fact that this is more of a post than a "comment" at this stage) but this issue is one of my bones of contention....anyway...finally - OF COURSE IT'S THE GOVERNMENTS FAULT. or should I say the Bureaucrats in government who allow toll hikes when our Motorways are in dire conditions. Those who allow public transport hikes when commuters are left standing on platforms for hours on end. And those who ignore the desperate need for judges in the Court Services but give themselves nice juicy rises.

In the words of Howard Beale: I'm Mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore"

Rant Over.

Andrew said...

Thanks guys, strong and honest opinions are exactly what I'm looking for.
Darragh, I like your idea of speeders having to visit hospitals - we need more punishments to fit the crime in this country.
Lottie, you're spot on about luxury vehicle drivers being huge culprits on the road. When someone is tailgating me I usually notice its an Audi, for some reason.
For a fairly humorous and relevant story check out http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/west_midlands/7396901.stm Its even funnier if you know who the guy is, cos he was a prick as a footballer too.

Andrew said...

Thanks guys, strong and honest opinions are exactly what I'm looking for.
Darragh, I like your idea of speeders having to visit hospitals - we need more punishments to fit the crime in this country.
Lottie, you're spot on about luxury vehicle drivers being huge culprits on the road. When someone is tailgating me I usually notice its an Audi, for some reason.
For a fairly humorous and relevant story check out http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/west_midlands/7396901.stm Its even funnier if you know who the guy is, cos he was a prick as a footballer too.

darrenbyrne said...

I'm content to just call you an asshole.

Stop speeding!

Really though, cars scare the bejaysus out of me. I've put off learning how to drive for years now, and I will continue to put it off as long as I can. Speed limits are there for a reason and shaving a few minutes off our journeys is not worth it when you consider the risks.

You're not an asshole - just human.

Andrew said...

Cars are should scare the bejaysus out of you, its the only way to have any respect for them. I was terrified when i learnt to drive and people didn't make it any easier by pointing out that you're riding around in a killing machine. But being able to drive reduces your fear eventually, as you learn how to handle a car and how to be safer on the road.
I'll reconsider my attitude towards speed but I do think my point about there being certain parts of motorways and dual carriageways where limits could be raised still applies. After all, its still a relatively small amount of road deaths that actually occur on these types of roads. Winding country roads are where its most lethal to drive fast.

Grandad said...

Darragh & Darren - Speeding does NOT cause accidents. Accidents are cause by assholes using inappropriate speed which is an entirely separate thing altogether.

If I am on a straight stretch of road with no junctions, houses or other traffic, and my car is up to it and I am a competent driver, how can speed kill me or anyone else?

Accidents are caused by people overestimating their driving skills, being totally unaware of their surroundings and having no concept of the unexpected.

I have held a full driving licence for over forty years. I am a cautious driver. I frequently break speed limits because the limits [at that spot] are ridiculously low. I also frequently drive below the speed limit, because the limit is set ridiculously high.

I am a patient driver. I will overtake only if it is safe to do so and if the car in front is too slow [and I mean well below the norm for the conditions]. If I were on the M50 and the conditions were right [good visibility, dry road, little traffic] then what difference does it make if I do 140?

Andrew - you are not an asshole. Unless of course, you are an incompetent driver!

Lottie said...

@ Grandad - 40 years? So you are one of those lucky ones who escaped the driving test then.

& @ Gradad - QUOTE "I were on the M50 and the conditions were right " - What M50 do you drive on?