I thought that your readers, or at least those among them that are motorists, might be interested in an experience that befell my son recently. I would stress that he, although still a teenager, is no tearaway, but a great motoring enthusiast with full respect for law and order.
He was returning from Salisbury to his home in Parkstone when his dipping mechanism ceased to function. Deciding it would be unwise, even dangerous, to stop on the highway, he made for the square in Ringwood where he knew there would be light and space to investigate in safety. Negotiating the roadworks entering Ringwood, he came up behind another driver, and as he appeared to be dazzling him he courteously switched to sidelights as he was unable to dip. It was only a few hundred yards into the town, and he had stopped and was examining his lights when two police officers approached and asked why he was driving on sidelights. He explained the position, and was immediately handed a £6 fixed penalty notice and left to his own devices. What a change from the days when a decent Bobby would have given a youngster help and advice in such a predicament!
Fortunately he was able to ring me and I had to fetch him at one o’clock in the morning, and then rise at six in order to go and get his car and put it into a garage in time for him to get to work at eight o’clock. So sure was he, however, that if he attended court and explained the circumstances he would get fair treatment, that he declined to pay the fixed penalty and decided to take his chances with the bench. Alas for his faith
in British justice, he was fined £8, £2 extra, presumably for daring to try and excuse himself.
The point of greatest interest, however, is the reply he got when he asked what he should have done: “Leave the car at the roadside, find a telephone and ring a garage to come out to you.” When you consider he was on a strange, dark, secondary road, at nearing midnight on a Sunday evening, is it any wonder he did the “wrong thing”?
So beware if you find yourself in the Ringwood vicinity and your horn, or wipers, or indicators, or anything else packs up that the law says must function whether or not you are using it. Remember you must immediately abandon the vehicle, find a telephone, and get your nearest friendly garage to come out to you. Oh, and don’t forget, if it should be a bulb gone in your sealed beam headlights, make sure they bring a new unit with them!
At a time when the police are more than ever seeking the co-operation of law-abiding citizens, it does rather make you wonder when a decent youngster can receive this sort of treatment. Vandalism is rife in Ringwood, as indeed it is practically everywhere, but should the law be criticised on this account their invariable answer is “lack of manpower”. They have enough manpower for two officers to hide in lay-bys in expensive foreign cars to bring the full farce of the law to bear on the very type of person to whom they would appeal for help if they were in trouble themselves. Makes you sick, doesn’t it!
Parkstone, Dorset R. E. L. MILES