As you may know by now, I was recently busted by a speed camera for doing 37mph in a 30mph limit. To be honest, that stretch of 30mph seems absurd (it used to be 40mph) and I know that camera catches a lot of people. I could go on to say that it looks like a cynical money-grabbing exercise.
But I’m pretty bored with motoring journalists banging on about speed cameras. It’s been going on for at least 20 years. The fact is that there was a sign, the camera was yellow, and there were those photogrammetry lines on the road. I wasn’t really paying attention. I cocked up.
Annoying, really, because I try my best to stick to urban speed limits. Most of them are fair enough. But I’m only human, and I make mistakes.
So do you. So does everyone who drives, including the righteous members of road-safety groups and anti-speed campaigns. ‘Well, you were caught,’ comes the cry. But the offence is not being caught, the offence is speeding.
So; morally, everyone who drives must immediately go down the cop shop and hand themselves in. But that isn’t going to happen, and we can’t have a society that makes everyone a criminal, because it would become meaningless.
And in any case, a lot of people will simply have made a mistake. We arrive here at a complicated philosophical conundrum – making mistakes is the lot of humanity, and legislating against that is nonsense.
Here’s a suggestion. We can have speed cameras, we continue to paint them yellow and all the rest of it. But you can speed, say, six times in a year before you get a fine. But you don’t know how many times you’ve been caught until you’ve done it six times and you get the letter.
Sounds tyrannical, doesn’t it? But it’s actually perfectly fair, because it goes some way to distinguishing between people who have merely erred occasionally and those for whom it’s a genuine bad habit. And let’s say you get a written warning after the first three.
The point of speed cameras, we’re told, is to stop people speeding. This system still does, but avoids the moral effrontery of punishing them merely for being human.
Tell me why I’m wrong, please.