An eye-opening lesson in killing your speed

‘Luck’ is a strange thing. ‘Bad luck’, my friends told me when I was caught speeding.

In 2011 there were 141 accidents on West Lindsey’s roads – 19 of them were serious and one was fatal.

Since 2006 there have been nearly 1,000 road accidents in the district, with 24 avoidable deaths.

Many road deaths are caused by the actions of others speeding or driving carelessly. It can be as simple as being in the wrong place at the wrong time. These are by far the most tragic incidents of ‘bad luck’.

Last month, I was caught speeding. I was doing 35mph down Long Leys Road in Lincoln where the speed limit was 30.

Truth be told, I did often push a little too hard on the accelerator down that stretch of road. It’s a quiet place and I was in a bit of a rush on my way back to Gainsborough.

That day, I was unlucky – I was flashed by a mobile speed camera van.

A few days later a brown envelope landed on my doorstep. I would eventually face taking three points on my licence or paying an £85 fine and attending a speed seminar. My decision was a no-brainer.

Arriving at my seminar in Lincoln, held by the Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership, I was shocked to see that those joining me were predominantly ‘mature’ drivers, over the age of 50.

A number of these were caught around Gainsborough in areas like Marton and Corringham.

There were a few grumbles that serious speeders who were driving in excess of 80mph should be here instead.

We were told that anyone driving at that speed knows exactly what they’re doing and deserves to be punished. We on the other hand, are minor offenders who have made a mistake. In short, we are here to be educated.

“If you look at the age group at these sessions, it tells quite a story,” said seminar leader and independent driver trainer Stuart Holborn.

“A lot of the people attending are people with a good number of years driving experience. They haven’t become ‘bad’ drivers, they’ve simply become complacent.”

At the session, I think we were all expecting a thorough telling off for what we’d done, but what we experienced instead was an insightful and rewarding lesson.

Stuart continued: “We just want people to think about what they’re doing so that they don’t end up in a horror scenario.”

“We almost always get very positive feedback and people tend to enjoy what we do here – it makes them think and reflect on their driving habits.”

Lincoln Road Safety Partnership communications manager John Siddle said: “It’s always a very emotive subject. These people are here because they have been caught breaking the law.”

“This is an educational option for those lower-speed offenders. Anyone in excess of 80mph know exactly what they’re doing and need to be in front of a judge and punished.”

He added: “You may think that the lower-speed offenders are insignificant, but 35-45 miles per hour is what we call ‘the kill zone’.

“If we can educate them, we can work towards saving lives.”

Over the next three hours we cover the causes, ways to avoid, and consequences of speeding – ending in a heart-wrenching and emotive appeal from the young daughters of Diane Stone, who died on Lincolnshire’s roads last year.

Afterwards, we are asked to consider the speeds we were driving when we were caught, and the reasons for why we were doing so.

“Could you now go and say that to those girls and look them in the eye?”

I couldn’t.

Now I realise, no one can ever justify being in that much of a rush.

The day after my seminar, we went along to a mobile speed camera’s brief stay on North Moor Road in Scotter, near Gainsborough.

Between the short hours of 10.30am and 12.30pm on Thursday 2nd February, they recorded a staggering 23 offences.

Luckily, no one was killed. But we should be in control when driving – don’t rely on luck.