22 July 2011

Lucky Escape.

He didn't really look like this
Whilst driving last night I rounded a bend and could see about 200 yards ahead of me the aftermath of an accident, with 2 cars off road on a forecourt being attended by an ambulance. As I approached a policeman stood out in the road, hand raised. I pulled up, assuming he was asking me to stop to let the ambulance pull out. I then spotted the exasperated look on his face and realised he was waving me in to the side of the road. I pulled in and wound down the window.
" What is the speed limit on this stretch of road sir? " He asked
"40" I replied confidently
"No it's 30"
My expression changed from confusion to slow realisation as out of the corner of my eye I spotted the 40 sign set in a big yellow square another 100 yards down the road "Oh shit!" (possibly not the best expression to have used at the time) " No! 40 starts just down there doesn't it "
He nodded knowingly showing me his hand held thing displaying 39m.p.h. (gulp!) and then went on to point out that he was only there to deal with the accident caused by others going too fast.
He then asked " Do you really want your evening to end with 3 points and a £60 fine?" I guess the question was really rhetorical but before my brain could stop it my mouth had already sprung into action with  " I'd sooner not if you don't mind".
Thankfully he smiled and waved me on my way with a gentle warning to take more care in future.

Thinking afterwards, the gentle warning was just as, if not more, effective than the speeding fine I received after being caught by an anonymous camera van 4 or 5 years ago. Having the accident itself pointed out as an outcome of excessive speed was testimony enough. And being shown the speed at the time whilst the road layout was still fresh in my mind made me realise that the S bend I'd just come round immediately followed by a junction, a pub car park exit, an awkward junction (scene of the accident) next to a forecourt with another 2 junctions (one half hidden) and another pub car park all within about 400 yards or so actually did warrant a 30mph limit. (Local readers may be able to work out the location from that). I was surprised I had actually reached 39mph - and possibly more as I would have still been accelerating when he "zapped" me - so soon after the previous right turn (although I had spent the entire journey accelerating quickly after reading that my 1.8 engine would be more economical if you accelerate hard up to 5th gear speeds as quickly as possible instead of driving like a granny with gentle acceleration in the lower gears). Instead of the annoyance that I felt when previously caught on camera, the personal approach left me feeling relieved to be let off but also that I actually owed it to the officer to take a bit more care in future.

As I drove off I could see him in my mirror already back out in the road, stopping cars heading towards him in the opposite direction to me - I hope he was as lenient with all of them.


TGR Worzel said...

You're right about some Police Officers taking the view that, provided the motorists attitude is right, a gentle warning is much more effective than all the paperwork that would otherwise be involved. If they can warn say several dozen motorists this way, its clearly a lot more effective than dealing with the one they might have nicked. Its effective Policing so helmets off to them...

As for the location, my best guess is the top end of Portsmouth Road, after you'd turned right from Hamble Lane.

Wurzel said...

10 out of 10 for the geographical detective work.
Which also means the policeman concerned, if he happened to come across this, would be able to identify himself and the incident described, so I'd just like to say he dealt with the matter efficiently, respectfully and politely whilst never losing the air of authority. A credit to the force.

TGR Worzel said...

Here here Wurzel. A credit to the force.

I hope I come across him the next time I'm speeding.