Two months ago I had the privilege of attending a half-day Speed Awareness workshop and I really do mean 'privilege'. Of course I didn't view it that way before I went, having reluctantly chosen to attend a workshop rather than have 3 points on my then clean driving licence. It would have been easier and cheaper just to accept the points, along with a fine of £60, as opposed to paying the £80 workshop fee, but there was no way I wanted points on my licence.
I was annoyed with myself for being caught speeding - I genuinely didn't know the speed limit on the road where I was caught by the mobile speed camera van parked in the layby. It turns out I was doing 36 mph in a 30 mph limit. But doesn't everyone have an excuse of some kind? Of course they do.
So, I went along to the local Holiday Inn venue on a Sunday afternoon at 2 pm not at all looking forward to spending the next 4 hours paying my penance. There were 24 other offenders crammed into a room, all of us looking resigned to enduring what was to come.
As it happens, the workshop was an excellent driving skills and Highway Code refresher. It was also highly interactive and, judging by the comments made on the way out, I'm quite sure everyone left feeling that it had been 4 hours well spent. I learned how to tell what the speed limit is wherever I am and I now appreciate why the 30 mph limit should be adhered to, and any other for that matter. There was a whole host of other useful tips and facts that we came away with but, most importantly, I left with a very real intention to be aware of my speed at all times and to stick to the limits as far as possible. It's just not worth risking the agony of killing a child, an animal or another road user, potentially getting a prison sentence and suffering the inevitable increase in car insurance.
But then came the hard part - putting my new resolution into practice for every single car journey. It really does take constant concentration and awareness of my driving all the time. My journeys now take longer and the 30 mph limit is particularly difficult to stick to. It's so easy to lose concentration and let the speed creep up unnoticed. The worst thing is that I always have someone on my boot now and so close that I can see the annoyance and frustration on their face in my rear view mirror. People just hate sticking to the speed limit, especially the 30s, let alone the 20 zones.
Not long after I attended the workshop, I made a 120-mile journey to visit my parents in Surrey. Most of the journey was dual carriageway and motorway but there were some single carriageway roads and villages to go through on the way. I resolved to do the whole journey sticking to the speed limits and drove at 70 mph on the dual carriageway stretches. Well, hundreds of cars sped past me during the journey, proving that the overwhelming majority of us exceed the speed limits.
I know I've turned into a boring, annoying driver, but I don't have to worry about the consequences of speeding any more. Most of all, I wish it were more acceptable and even 'cool' to stick to the speed limits.