Now we all know I have a flawless reputation...no, sorry - I just couldn't finish that without laughing. I've made plenty of mistakes over the years - disastrous marriage aside - but I never thought that one simple indiscretion could inspire a blog post - but here we are.
I hold my hands up...'it's a fair cop' as they say. This week I attended a Speed Awareness Course. Not because my jogging career is taking off in a big way but because I was caught by a mobile speed camera doing 34 mph in a 30 mph zone.
My options were three points on my license and a £100 fine or I could attend a four hour course and only pay £85. I opted for the course.
- Lesson Number One:- Consequences.
I am self employed so I lost half a days earning. I was not alone...out of the twenty five people on the course, 90% had either taken a days holiday or lost earnings.
We must have looked a sorry bunch, with glum faces and arms crossed in a 'I don't want to be here' pose, however four hours later I was astonished at how much I learnt, how wrong I had been and how much fun I'd had.
The course is run by TTC2000 who are a national driver training organisation and our hosts for the day, Paul and Chris were a well trained double act, they were warm and friendly and didn't point a finger or slap any wrists.
We began with a simple quiz. It was at this point I realised with absolute horror how much I'd forgotten about my highway code.
- Lesson Number Two:- Complacency.
As a holistic health practitioner I have to keep up to date with my CPD, why is driving any different? I was amazed at just how much information I had forgotten since my driving test MANY years ago.
Here are a few questions for you to try -
- What is a 'repeater' sign?
- For a car, what is the national speed limit on a single carriageway?
- How would you know where a 40 mph, or 50 mph speed limit applies?
Answers on a postcard please!
- Lesson Number Three:- Speeding is a Waste of Time
During the course we looked at some of our 'excuses' for speeding. The most popular was - being late.
Q. You are late for a meeting or getting the kids to school so you speed. On a local road you may do 35 mph instead of 30 mph. How much faster would you get to your meeting/school?
A. Can you believe that all that stress and rushing around only gains you 18 seconds!
If you did 80 mph instead of 70 mph on the motorway you would only gain 64 seconds but more shockingly perhaps is that you would have used 25% more fuel.
- Lesson Number Four:- Changing Bad Habits and Managing Speed
We were given another quiz at this point - to fill in the blanks - take a look and see if you can work out what the letters could stand for.
Any idea? It's Concentration, Observation, Anticipation, Space and Time.
I was quite shocked to discover that in the space of 60 minutes driving time we only concentrate on the act of driving for 15 minutes - where on earth is our brain for the other 45 minutes?
We were taught a really great trick to help with our observation. As you drive around town say aloud what you see around you, for example - Car, Road Sign, Cyclist, Junction, Dog, School etc. My kids thought I'd gone mad when I started doing this but in the end they joined in and it was quite a fun game, the surprising thing for me was as I was Concentrating and Observing my environment and Anticipating what was ahead, I lifted my foot off the gas and slowed down without even thinking about it - try it for yourself, it works.
- Lesson Number Five:- Recognising Speed Limits
This topic was an eye opener for many of us and I was amazed at how much I got wrong about speed limits on varying roads. We discussed motorways, rural and urban and looked at single and dual carriageways. In fact I began to wonder how I ever managed to pass my test in the first place.
We were given yet another top tip on how to remember and I'm going to share this with you. (NB The Course Applies to UK Roads)
Is the road you are on a motorway? Yes - then it's 70 mph.
If not then follow these rules:-
Does it have Street Lights?
YES -Then its 30
NO - National Speed Limit Applies
If it's a 20, 40, 50, 70
There will be a sign to tell you
Take a moment to reflect on your own driving. Consider where, when and why you normally speed and how you could change it in the future.
On my way home from the course I took my time, shouted out everything I could see and stopped at least a car length from the car in front at the traffic lights. I do believe I even shook my head and gave a little tut tut when someone sped past me as I happily trundled along at 30 mph. Stress free, enjoying the view and grinning from ear to ear - I never remember my school detentions being so much fun!
TTC2000 Aim to work with individuals and road safety professionals to minimise road crashes and casualties. There contact details are 0845 270 4363, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Why not keep up to date with your Highway Code online.