‘Evening officer, how can I help?’ Fifth ride on the BMW S1000RR and my first nick of the year. In the wet, slipping through the traffic, making brisk progress, like a swan gliding with majesty and cool authority. He didn’t think so. At least at first. The following discussion will be familiar to most of you. Sensible, rational copper listens to my side of it, works out that I know what I’m doing, applies a little common sense and lets me off with a reminder that the car drivers I’m dealing with might not be aware that I’m coming. He’s happy – done his job without incurring paperwork – I’m happy because I got away with it. Law brings order and that’s good eh?
And it got me thinking. Because before I passed him waiting on the roundabout, I’d been smugly congratulating myself on riding this 180bhp missile with relative restraint. I’ve got over the need to fiddle with the electronics and am doing my usual 25mph in 30mph limits, my overtakes are clean, and I’m letting people out of junctions in front of me.
In fact, I’d been dreaming up a new scheme for road policing based on a new behaviour of ‘Riding with due care and attention.’ my idea is that we build a network of CCTV and number plate recognition cameras that identify and reward good driving. So, every time you do 25mph in a 30 limit you get a point on your licence – a bit like a Tesco club card. Every time you let someone into a queue you get a point, every time you make a well timed overtake, another one. And so on.
Drive well and it should be possible to amass 50 points a week and to reward this good driving, maybe we say that for every 1000 points you accumulate you get a tenner off your road tax as an incentive.
And then when you are caught doing something wrong, the points come off your licence. 500 points for doing 40mph in a 30, 1000 points for 50 in a 30, 10,000 points for using a mobile phone while driving.
And when your licence goes overdrawn you get banned. One days ban for every 100 points and a prison term for anyone going over 9999 points.
The idea of all this is that by encouraging good driving as well as punishing bad you give everyone a reason to be thinking about it. Instead of feeling aggressive and aggrieved on the road, drivers will be trying to score points. Imagine how good you would feel at every speed limit sign knowing you’d just earned an extra point? People will drive more slowly and have less accidents, which will save the emergency services and health authorities a fortune, which, in turn will subsidise the discounts in road tax amassed by good drivers.
Obviously the serious driving offences still carry mandatory sentencing – there’s be an outcry if a drunk driver escaped prison after causing death just because they’d previously amassed a million points for good driving (although, controversially, it would make it easier to prove that some incidents were a genuine one-off). But the point here is that good driving gets rewarded and encouraged, which it doesn’t at the moment.
And how many times have you heard safety groups and lobbyists saying that it’s not a single cause such as speed that’s responsible for accidents, but the real cause is bad driving. There’s been a lot in the papers recently about a proposal to raise the motorway speed limit to 80mph. Which would be a silly idea if it ever happened (which it won’t because most people can see it as a diversionary news story to defelct attention from the economy) because at a time when we are fast running out of fuel, the last thing we need is a change in the law to encourage more people to burn more of it. But the simple fact that they are even allowing ministers to talk about it suggests that the ‘Speed Kills’ campaign has been seen to have failed because it is bad driving that causes accidents.
So, what do you think? Should we introduce ‘Driving with due care and attention’ as a rewards scheme for careful drivers?
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