Letters from readers, June 1973

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[N.B. – Opinions expressed are those of our Correspondents and Motor Sport does not necessarily associate itself with them. – Ed.]

Stop clobbering us

Sir,

I was delighted to read of your magazine’s efforts on behalf of motorists to have the 3-endorsements rule reconsidered. How refreshing it is to find someone having a go! The significant points to my mind in your April editorial are the mention from the solicitor’s letter, namely:

1) The speeding offence is classified as a “Criminal” offence.

2) That it has been my experience on four occasions to find that police, far from being sympathetic to the motorist, regard motoring at large as some sort of big game hunt where all is fair in love and war.

I am a thrice-convicted “speedster”, where in each case the maximum “exceedence” was by 12 m.p.h. I am also a responsible business man who makes pretty massive contributions to the Inland Revenue. Upon that criterion I put myself forward as a stable, reasonable citizen of this country. However, over the past five years I have been alarmed and disturbed by the attitude of police officers in their interpretation of their duty when applying the law towards motorists. In two instances, about one of which I wrote to you at length last year, it has been to an absurd point and, had I not in both instances taken the opportunity to cross-summons the officers in question, proceedings could have become protracted, to say the least.

What concerns me most it that in two separate parts of the country treatment and attitude of the officers concerned has been identical; boorish, officious, contemptuous. On the last occasion, Sunday night January, my wife and I were stopped for exceeding 40 m.p.h. through a village in the Pembrokeshire outback (52 m.p.h.) and were to be detained indefinitely pending enquiries as to whether our car was stolen and also for a road-worthiness check. I was polite, my hair is short, my wife’s car was a perfectly respectable 1.5 Riley. This case I ultimately took to the Home Secretary and enclose for your perusal my contribution towards such behaviour in the local press.

It is high time someone started to dismantle in rational manner the jungle quagmire of rules, regulations and legislation pertaining to the motorist. Since its conception, the motor-car has been viewed by people in authority as some unreasonable monster which must be bled to death, persecuted, hounded together with those who enjoy them through either pleasure or necessity. We in this country have gone legislation mad, with a result that over the years it is impossible not to commit at least two dozen offences in driving to collect the Sunday papers! It is truly a pathetically fatuous situation. It is a situation, however, which is becoming cancerously dangerous and it is manifest that such laws are now outraging decent, respectable citizens who, but for them, would never see the inside of a court room in their whole lives.

Speed limits are only sensible when they are rational in the area in which they are applied. The 30 m.p.h. or the 70 m.p.h. on Motorways are, in this age, utterly futile. How can anyone respect a law which is flagrantly disregarded in every major city in the UK? London traffic flows in and out of London at some 50 m.p.h.

Motorway traffic flows at at least 80-90 m.p.h. This is not speeding but is a sane, safe and competent speed set involuntarily by the average motorist. How completely insane to 20-ton lorries to proceed at a legal 70 m.p.h. and yet restrict well-engineered family saloons to the same speed! Yea, the law is truly an ass!

Such laws are bad laws; I do not know whether we are in need of another war or similar to occupy the minds of these dreamers in authority, but my blood boils when I am subjected to these legislative opinions—for that is simply what they are—which are imposed on me and other responsible and clear thinking people. Another example is the recent hoo-ha concerning making the wearing of seat-belts compulsory. It really is enough to make a man emigrate. In Heaven’s name, and disclaiming all the fors and againsts, if a person chooses not to wear a safety belt that is his or her personal responsibility. It is a choice made which affects no other person but him or her and in any subsequent claim surely a Judge could take such item into consideration in awarding damages? To be forced by law to wear safety belts is iniquitous and to my mind a monstrous liberty and an intrusion on privacy in life. It is akin to stipulating airbeds shall be placed either side of one’s bed in the event of falling out!

In point of fact the motor-car is here to stay. It is a highly desirable and necessary piece of equipment to all in this day and age and the sooner authority appreciates this, the better. People will not tolorate infringements of their personal freedom and liberty, to go where they want when they want and, above all, to go without being hounded and persecuted by every police force, traffic warden force, ‘Q’ cars or whatever throughout the country. The situation today has gone far enough and it is time for the public to realise that it is they who decide the laws of this country, in the ultimate.

It may sound melodramatic, but in the name of freedom—for God’s sake let’s hear you speak—all of us!

P.H. Prankerd – Manorbier.

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