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At the beginning of last week, I attended a Speed Awareness Course, having been, ahem, invited to do so by Avon & Somerset Police.


Speed Awareness Course

Caught on camera

On our drive to Scotland at the beginning of December, I picked up my second-ever speeding ticket, this time for doing 57mph in a 50mph zone on the motorway somewhere in Gloucester. When Zöe, our fab postie, handed me the ‘time sensitive’ envelope with a look that said Oh dear, I think we both know what that is, I truthfully replied: “Well I’ve been speeding for almost 40yrs and this is the first time the UK police have caught me so, fair cop.” And we laughed.

Luckily, as it was my first driving offence and I wasn’t exactly tearing up the tarmac at the time, I was offered an alternative to a fine and penalty points on my driving licence. I could choose to pay for, and attend, a Speed Awareness Course instead. The price difference was negligible – £12 less for the course than the fine – but the opportunity to escape penalty points was a no-brainer. I opted for the course.

I chose an online course via Zoom on 8th January and it was to last 2hrs 45mins. I had to be in a room by myself and I would be visible to both the tutor and all other attendees throughout, as they would be to me. As the course date drew near, I began to think about what I might be asked, and the most logical question seemed to be: “Why were you speeding?”

Habitual speeders

There were two possible versions of my answer to that question. Firstly, the one I might proffer to the tutor if asked: “We had a long journey ahead of us and we wanted to catch the 5pm ferry rather than sit for 40/45mins on the quay at Wemyss Bay waiting for the next sailing.” This is in fact true, so I wouldn’t be lying. But then there was the bigger truth: “I always speed. It’s a given. As long as it’s safe and unless I can see a speed camera, or the red lights on the gantry are lit, I’m guaranteed to be speeding on the motorway.

And thinking about that, I realised the fact is, I’m pretty much always in a hurry.

I’ve been in a hurry all my life. For as long as I can remember, I have always walked quickly, friends with shorter legs complaining that they were practically having to  run to keep up with me. I have always undertaken every task with maximum efficiency and in minimal time; and I have always driven fast. Once I met Jack, a fellow speeder, we proceeded to speed through life at breakneck pace. And still do.

For us, the weekly food shop is like supermarket dash without the stop watch and with a bill to pay at the end. There’s no loitering and little browsing. We have a list, and we efficiently speed around the aisles getting what we need, tutting at the ‘doddering old folk’ (we have to be careful of using that phrase now that we’ve potentially joined their ranks) who loiter in the aisles while they browse the shelves, their trollies impeding our progress.

Going shopping for anything else, except interestingly, books, is an exercise in logistics, carefully planned and executed under Jack’s direction. Sometimes, when we’re out walking for pleasure, I find myself puffing and panting at his heels before pointing out to Jack that we’re racing up whatever hill it is we’re on. We never sleep in, regardless of what day of the week it is or how late we went to bed, and we need to end every day with the knowledge that we’ve achieved something worthwhile.

The Speed Awareness Course

My Speed Awareness course turned out to be surprisingly interesting and I learned a great deal. Not only about the Highway Code (I’ve become a highway code bore in the car) but also about the futility of speeding when I’m behind the wheel. Watching the ETA on the sat nav whenever we’re on a long motorway journey, if I’m honest, all I ever manage to save by speeding is 4 to 5 minutes. I learned on the course that in the event of having an accident however, 10mph over the speed limit equates to seven times more likely to be fatally injured and to fatally injure someone else.

I have to admit that, since reaching my sixties, I’ve begun to think maybe I should slow down a little. Perhaps all this running around and constantly being in a hurry is merely getting me to the grave quicker. But now that I’ve been on my speed awareness course, I’ve discovered that speeding doesn’t get you to your destination any earlier than if you didn’t speed.

So I can therefore confidently continue to speed through life without getting to the grave any earlier… just not when I’m behind the wheel. Good to know.


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