February 15, 2018

Every three years or so Bankstone News has the privilege of attending one of the excellent Speed Awareness Courses (SACs) offered to selected motorists by Her Majesty’s Government.

These are always fascinating and instructive occasions, jam-packed with previously unsuspected info-snippets, hints and tips.

Who knew, for example, that all those mysterious signs with numbers are supposed to tell you how fast to drive. Apparently the ones with black edges are just friendly advice, though, so you can ignore them.

Also (unless the bloke was having us on – which, come to think of it, he very well might have been), dual carriageways can sometimes have more than – or less than – two lanes! Yes, seriously! Unless [see previous comments about possible p*ss-taking].

Bankstone News and its fellow delegates also learned that, although traffic police are largely a thing of the past, your chances of getting ‘done’ for speeding are actually higher than ever.

The reason for this is that the nation’s roads have been cunningly linked up to a network of cameras that can detect how fast vehicles are travelling and ‘do’ their drivers if they’re driving faster than they’re supposed to be. Strange but true!

Now, don’t get Bankstone News wrong. We’ll always be at the front of the queue to congratulate a government that is tough on taxation and tough on the causes of taxation. And, clearly, employing actual police persons is an insupportable drain on the public purse, whereas speed cameras can be a nice little earner.

But don’t you ever find yourself yearning for the days of yore when getting ‘done’ for speeding involved at least a perfunctory chase, some flashing lights, sirens, perhaps a little sardonic banter through a freshly wound-down driver’s window?

Just getting a letter in the post saying “Bad luck, Chum. Our cameras have ‘done’ you driving at X miles an hour when you should have been driving at Y” doesn’t exactly have the same romance about it.

With a surprisingly jolly demeanour for someone who’s about to be put out of a job by technology (and, let’s face it, who isn’t), Bankstone News’ SAC instructor made the observation that an ever more complete digital surveillance infrastructure will soon make it more or less impossible to speed without being ‘done’.

The real problem with travelling at speed on wheels, of course, (the moral and ethical, rather than the practical problem), is the fact that people can get hurt doing it. Or even just being around other people who are doing it.

It used to be said, as it was again the other day by our jovial course presenter, that – just as we can’t have knives without stabbings, guns without shootings, or omelettes without egg-breaking, we cannot have roads without a spot of collateral damage. He put it more bluntly than that. But this is, after all, a family B2B eZine.

On the basis that the problem is not so much the roads themselves as the machines that use them (or, stilll more specifically, the people who use those machines), total surveillance, and hence ineluctable speed-limit enforcement, should constitute a significant step towards damage limitation.

At the very least, it might tide us over until robots (aka driverless vehicles) take over the driving task and thereby remove the lethal human element from the road-use equation.

From a health and safety point of view, we should also perhaps look into the compulsory delegation of all cutting and slicing tasks to dedicated cutbots, all shooting to gunbots, etc.

Those eggs are probably a lost cause, though.


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