Cut motoring costs




May I be permitted to swell your already large postbag on the February and April 1973, “Matters of Moment”.

Here, in these two “Letters to Readers” you really have found a cause, and scored a bulls eye. You seem to be the only motoring body (sorry) to comment.

I, like yourselves, would like this lop-sided justice to cease, but I would honestly like to know, who does make these laws, and why are they adopted?

Let me expand on this.

At the present time there are three areas where the motorist and the law meet head-on. They are:

1. Car Parking;

2. Excess Speed;

3. Driving under the influence; of whatever.

When 1, 2 and 3 are put into practice the public is told that this type of control of crime, abuse, or W.H.Y. is being done to save lives and makes for better road safety—all good—so far.

However it is not long before the motorist finds that the law makers and therefore the law enforcers, regard these areas as something more.

Even in, once calm, towns in England there is a constant battle when parking between the time, the place and the warden. Now, if No Parking meant what it really said the streets should be kept clear.

The wardens do not move cars along, however and try to keep the kerb side free but issue tickets. At Christmas I stopped at 3.55 p.m. in a local High Street to collect a present from a shop. Unknown to myself and family there is a special fine, unposted, here for local conditions. I left the shop, got into the car, (was aware of a warden standing by shop front) and drove off. After the holiday a letter dropped on the mat.

Sir or Madam. If you do not pay £2 you will be etc., etc.

There was no ticket on the car on the day of the “offence!” and one can really go no farther. My mother took the money the next time she happened to be passing the court. Time on court receipt of offence 4.02 p.m. Time of “no parking” starts 4.00 p.m. Two minutes cost £2 or £1 per 60 seconds.

2. Here again we have a curious situation. The local limit, the method used to stop or report motorists, and the irregular setting up of the timing area seems at odds.

There is one particular small village near us which keeps the local police occupied on radar traps.

Wednesday afternoons at about 3.30 p.m. being, it seems, agreeable to all to go out, have one hour on the radar, and then back to the police station for the regulation cup of tea and state issue digestive biscuits.

On the side of one approach road to this village there is a house whose garden walls are built very close to the highway. These walls are about 40 yards long and parallel to the roadway with an opening for the main gateway entrance.

The local police used to set up their trap right inside this front driveway. The radar, first policeman, and of course the second policeman 400 yards away were not only difficult to see THEY WERE 100% HIDDEN, TOTALLY.

When the owner found out what was going on he moved them on in no uncertain manner after heaven knows how many people were caught. The police did move off his property but only by about 30 yards. They now hide behind a large holly bush.

A radar meter, a British Leyland Range Rover, two officers, and a R/T outfit are all needed to complete this sortie. I often wonder how much this operation costs per hour.

3. Without any doubt this must be the most dangerous motoring offence in the USA and in the UK a tremendous percentage of accidents are due to the too drunken drivers. But what do we find in the UK? The lawmakers allow a limit to be attained before the required degree can go to court.

Take the recent case of Lord Litchfield. A police officer observed his Lordship to stagger across the road to his Rolls-Royce. Perceiving that this gentleman was about to commit an offence the radio set was used to call in another car to pursue the suspect. It seems fantastic but his Lordship was allowed to start his journey, was duly stopped by the second car etc., etc.

One would really have thought that the first officer could have said, “Look Sir, give me the keys and I will run you home or I will get you a taxi”. What would have happened if his Lordship had hit someone or something during the period before being stopped?

The three examples quoted all have one thing in common. There appears or is an active interest in letting, nay making the motorist break the law, and this interest continues.

Why? If car parking is really to be banned the wardens would have the right of removal at once.

If speeding is really to be controlled a police car should insert itself into a line of traffic and set the pace.

If drunken driving is really to be stopped the limit of alcohol in the blood MUST be set at ZERO with 5 years loss of driving rights.

The police force stands by and watches people who are drunk, but not over the limit go about their business without asking for a firmer law change here, and yet those same policemen would be sick or have heart failure if they thought that the airline pilot of their Boeing 737 had been at the grapes before take-oft.

It would appear that the government is really quite happy to leave things the way they are as it must be a wonderful source of income. For the word “policeman” in future please use new word “tax collector”.

I voted for the present Prime Minister, and I have written to him. Sadly I think that your letter will get the replies that I have had. Dear Sir. Your letter has been passed to the appropriate department. Yours etc.

There is a great deal of talk about food costing too much, yet the road fund, and fuel tax are not reduced.

And finally there is the advertisement that you have on page 366. I have seen police forces driving BMW 3.0 Si and Coventry Shiftless Sixes and I am speechless. In a period of freeze, and restraint how do you, sir, react to the police using £3,000—£4,300 cars. I guess they will have Shiftless 12s soon.

Well, if so. I am not voting for this government, again. I do not blame them for introducing no parking, the 70 limit, weak anti-drink laws, and far too expensive police cars. But I do blame them for allowing it to continue. If the 3.0 Si is a good (fast) police car then the Aston Martin DB S V8 must be better, and a Boxer Ferrari, or a 917.

Michael Potter – Hemel Hempstead, Herts.