It would seem that I am now a dastardly criminal, having been made recently so by exceeding the speed limit between Luton and Dunstable. Your readers from this area should beware a white Hillman or Cortina estate car emblazoned with the large words ACCIDENT TENDER. It was whilst I was overtaking a convoy of slow moving vehicles at night at no more than the statutory 30 miles an hour when I espied this vehicle in my rearview mirror. The first reaction to the thoughtful motorist is that here is an ambulance or service tender on the way to an emergency where their prompt arrival may save life or limb, so as in the case of seeing a fire engine one takes action which will not hamper the progress of these angels of mercy, and in this case I employed the sinful device of accelerating to about 45 m.p.h. so that the alleged Accident Tender should not be delayed. After overtaking the slow obstacle, I once again slowed to the lawful speed and waved on this hurrying ambulance, as I thought, only to be waved down by the occupant of the same vehicle and duly booked for speeding.
Now, I have always been most critical of those readers who have written their derogatory pieces about the police in your columns and I, for one, have always felt that it is one’s duty to assist the police wherever possible. When all is said and done, the poor chaps have a difficult job to do and I have been constantly reminded by Press statements that senior police officials are endeavouring constantly to mend the bent image of the police force. When, then, do two fullgrown policemen who have been driving what to all intents and purposes appears to be an ambulance make such a meal of booking a motorist who was only trying to help them by getting out of their way? They attended me for about 15 minutes in a cocky and familiar fashion and seemed most hurt when they could find no other allegations other than speeding with which, I quote, they could “do” me. What have they achieved? An eight quid swell to their funds, an endorsement on my licence and a permanent enemy in me. In future, and I advise all other North Hertfordshire and South Bedfordshire motorists the same, I will not turn a hair if by accident I impede an emergency tender. Why should I fork out fines just to show what a thoughtful sort of fellow I am? I am not going to take the risk of losing a licence by breaking the speed limit to assist the public servants on their way, especially as you cannot tell whether or not an ambulance is a police car or vice-versa.
You may like to know the recent findings of another court locally when in the same sitting three cases were heard. One was a man who was fined for evading the purchase of a radio licence, the second a motorist who outstayed his welcome in a limited waiting area and the third a drunk who smashed a beer glass into the face of a colleague in a pub, causing the recipient to have 14 stitches in his eye and cheek. The first was fined £10, the second the same and the bully was let off with a caution and a fine of £5. Therefore, it seems, one is a greater menace to society by not buying a Government licence or by parking where the authorities don’t want you to. If the punishment is set to fit the crime then it’s cheaper to be a thug. I think I will sell my car and buy a cosh.
The very elegant letter from Mr. P. G. Williams in your January issue shone like a shaft of winter sunlight to sparkle among the facets of our motoring activities. As I have been motoring nearly three times as long as Mr. Williams I learned my lessons about the law in the days of the 20 m.p.h. speed limit when we were even more stringently harassed than we are now. But we did have more time to watch out for the AA men who refrained from saluting when there was a speed trap ahead and we were not so bewildered by the multiplicity of modern signs which draw our attention from the road when we should be concentrating on more important matters.
As a means of protest, demonstration or rebellion, may I suggest that we should have a motorists’ “work-to-rule” day? If we all agreed to stick rigidly to the speed limits for one day only I believe the ensuing chaos would prove to the little grey folk who make the laws that they know very little about road safety. What about August 1st?
Should Mr. Williams find his white Volvo being followed at a legal speed by another white Volvo, it will be mine.