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With Reasonable Diligence

For those of you in the UK you may find, like I, that the whole traffic offence situation is getting more then slightly tedious. It’s not that I do not appreciate exquisite driving and safety on the roads, I do unquestionably. However, I find the current “nannying” culture of UK traffic policing a Royal pain the ass.

I’m not even speaking from naivety, I’ve travelled, I’ve lived in other countries for very extended periods of time, I’ve experienced first hand how other cultures adopt a more humanist approach to “slowing down” the traffic.

In the UK June 2007, we have an estimated 12,209 speed cameras, yes I know, that’s plain dumb. 12,209 cameras on differing points ready to “snap” your licence plate as you hurtle passed the thing doing more miles-per-hour (MPH) than you are legally allowed.

So what’s the outcome? – well a big juicy fine and points deducted from your driving licence, you typically get 3 deducted for each offence, 12 points later, no licence. The trouble is you see, it is the penalising nature of this system which aggravates me, you are punished unquestionably for doing a few MPH over the limit, and penalised in a most aggressive and fascist manner.

In reality the great speed camera of the UK has become an income generating revenue stream, where hundreds of thousands of pounds are taken daily. This is common knowledge, councils will actively seek out potential “black-spots” for income generation. I do know a guy, working in this field who informed me this is part of the sales pitch for new cameras!

The humanist approach (as is apparent in Italy as example) would be to have speed detecting equipment which throws up a warning sign saying slow down, and for particularly vulnerable areas, like busy towns or school entrances have speed activated traffic lights, and then if the lights are jumped THEN fine.

Speed cameras in their current state do not make people drive slower, they make people drive slower passed those cameras only. A whole database industry exists which creates daily updates of all known cameras and once dumped into your PDA gives you a warning of an oncoming speed camera.

If you do get caught (rather than politely warned, oh no that’s too intelligent) bear in mind you DO NOT have to pay up immediately, they have to prove it was YOU driving the vehicle, and with reasonable diligence.

In this first instance ask for photographic evidence of the crime scene, which must be provided.

Secondly, ask for proof that the camera equipment had a recent calibration, again this must be provided. Thirdly, if that comes, and you cant not be identified, you can enter into a “without reasonable diligence” plea as it could be anyone driving the car.

Here is a handy letter you could use in your dialogue with the traffic police.

Dear Sir

I refer to your letter dated xxth month 2007, in relation to an alleged traffic offence.

I thank you for forwarding photographic evidence of the said offence, which does indeed show the car registration mark xxxxxx as being present, of which I am the registered owner.

However, the evidence does not identify who the driver was, and as stated in your letter “the purpose of the image is to place the vehicle at the location at the time and date specified and it is not intended to identify the driver of the vehicle”.

In light of this evidence it is proving to be extremely difficult in identifying the driver of the vehicle for this date and time and I cannot, with reasonable diligence, ascertain who this was.

Yours faithfully

What do you think, is it just me, do you like speed camera, why, couldn’t there be a better system?