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   Inside Out - Yorkshire & Lincolnshire: Monday January 24, 2005

PUSHING THE LIMIT

The Driver's Survival Handbook
An ex-traffic officer has written a book of tips to evade the law

Since the government introduced speed cameras back in 1991, motorists have been up in arms about the implications for their daily journeys. But now drivers are fighting back - and not always within the law.

This is the Driver's Survival Handbook - a comprehensive guide on everything you need to know to evade transport law.

The author, Martin Thwaite, is an ex-traffic officer with 20 years experience, so when it comes to loopholes, he's got the scoop.

But he's keeping a low profile, because his book tells drivers how to evade traffic police, avoid points on your licence and even how to wriggle out of a fine if you get caught.

Challenging the system

Since the Road Traffic Act was passed in 1991, more than 5,000 cameras have been implemented along the side of our roads, some more visible than others.

But visibility is just the beginning of the excuses used by drivers to evade speeding fines.

Dave Lister was caught speeding in Hull, but using information he found in the Driver's Survival Handbook and on the internet, he challenged the system and narrowly avoided a fine and three crucial points on his licence.

He said, "There is a legal requirement that, when there is a temporary speed restriction in force, the road has to be laid out to give the motorist a clear indication of what is expected of them.

"I found that the signs they'd put out were inaccurate."

Dave managed to escape a £60 fine and three points on his licence by using a legal loophole to his advantage, and now more and more drivers are taking similar steps to ensure they don't get caught out.

Bending the law

Policeman with speed camera
Mobile cameras are sometimes used to catch speeders

One of the most popular pieces of equipment is something called a laser jammer - a small device which "jams" police cameras and stops them from taking a measurement.

Such devices are in high demand now that the number of speed cameras on Britain's roads has risen to over 5,000.

They are not illegal to buy, or install in your car. However, you turn them on at your own risk - because you may well fall foul of the law.

A policeman told Inside Out, "Anybody who uses a jammer we pick up and get a special error reading.

"We have the number plate of the vehicle so obviously we'll go round and visit him."

And they may soon be outlawed completely, if the government's new Road Safety Bill is passed.

In fact, a test case involving a driver caught using a laser jammer is due up in court.

Having been charged with perverting the course of justice, the driver could face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Cracking down

Mick Harris
Mick Harris thinks that times need to change

Mick Harris, from the Humberside Safety Camera Partnership, told Inside Out, "I think it is selfish, going on about this 'right to speed,' and not wanting to be prosecuted for it.

"In any democratic society, particularly if you do it deliberately, you're going to be fined.

"There are some devices that will affect the speed detection device itself, but if you have got any of these you are perverting the course of justice and if found out you will go to prison."

While the Road Safety Bill is being debated in parliament, the government are taking drastic steps to crack down on speeding.

And Yorkshire Police are the first in the country to fit speed cameras to the back of police motorbikes.

The move is just part of the government's plan to reduce speeding for good.

Mick Harris said, "The idea of safety cameras is to reduce speed and therefore casualties and we can show that this has been the case.

"In the first year we probably saved about 39 people from being killed or seriously injured."

Taking the risk

Speeding -The Facts
  • 84 per cent of people disapprove of speeding yet 69 per cent still do it
  • Excessive speed is a contributory factor in over 1,000 deaths and over 38,000 injuries every year
  • Just over half (58 per cent) of drivers break the 30mph speed limit
  • One survey revealed that people found it more acceptable to speed than to drop litter
  • Traffic-related deaths and serious injuries have dropped by 35 per cent in areas where speed cameras operate
Source: the UK Department for Transport

It takes three incidences of speeding - that's twelve points and £180 in fines - before a ban is issued - but for some motorists, there are ways around the system.

Inside Out spoke to one man who admitted to "selling on" points - in other words, paying someone else to take on the responsibility of his speeding punishments.

He now uses a satellite tracking system to help him slow down and alert him to high-risk speed camera zones.

He explains, "I've received 18 points, let's say, but I need to drive to keep my job.

"I think the number of cameras in this area unfairly targets the business motorist.

"I now have nine points on my licence and cannot afford another speeding ticket, it's as simple as that. I am much more careful"

But the problem isn't always the speeding itself - Mick thinks it's the attitude towards speed cameras that needs to change.

"Seatbelts and the breathalyser test were introduced in the 1960s - they weren't favourable then but over time drinking and driving has been seen as anti-social.

"We hope that eventually speeding will be seen as anti-social because there are benefits to be gained for everybody that uses the road, not just the driver."

See also ...

On the rest of Inside Out
Speed - Trading Places
Speed Cameras
Speed Kills
Car Cloning

On bbc.co.uk
BBC - Motoring - Safe Driving

On the rest of the web
Department for Transport
Humberside Safety Camera Partnership

Think! Slow Down campaign

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites

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Readers' Comments

We are not adding any new comments to this page but you can still read some of the comments previously submitted by readers.

tc
The focus on speed is tackling less than 4% of the causes of deaths on roads. Instead the rapid rise to 3million camera fines per year comes with an end to the historical decline in road deaths due to vehicle improvements. All cameras do is reduce driver attention on the road ahead. If you look at your speedometer it is as bad as looking at your mobile phone.

Insider
Well all I can really say is that Mick Harris is unfortunately 'ill informed'. As 'old bill' stated above, a defence of 'I was not comitting an offence, so therefore I cannot be perverting the course of jutice'. The 'partnerships magistrates' may convict, but the higher courts would be somewhat more impartial. I am NOT bothered by Mick Harris's comments about so called laser jammers. I personally have a laser garage door opener which has an unfortunate side effect of 'jamming police guns'.... If their equipment is seriously that poor that it is jammed then it's really not my problem. As to Mick Harris's comments that the Lti Laser system brings up an error saying that 'it was jammed' Then that is a blatant lie, as the gun brings up an error code, which links back to the manual, which also states that many things could cause the error 'like the sun'! Very high tech accurate equipment, I'm sure.

A Sales
Traffic control due to speed cameras is becoming more frustrating by the day. Each time we go out on the roads we find another white line, or another reduced speed limit - Is there no end to this disease. Continuing control seems to increase driver frustration to almost intolerable levels, and add huge amounts to the time spent travelling when this is a daily activity.

D Mac
In the box, Speeding - the facts it has the following statements: Excessive speed is a contributory factor in over 1,000 deaths and over 38,000 injuries every year and Just over half (58 per cent) of drivers break the 30mph speed limit Does this mean that the other 2,500 deaths per year are caused by the 42% of motorists who are not speeding and that speeding is therefore safer than obeying the limits? Interestng what you can do with statistics isn't it!

Rob D
Speed Cameras are NOT positioned in accident black spots. I used to live on the A3 in Surrey and in an 18 mth period there were 7 accidents within 100 yards of my front door, 4 people killed!!! It is a 50 mph limit, which no-one takes any notice of. My idea of an evening entertainment is not trying to keep people alive in a smashed up car. Speed camers = less traffic cops, so the drunk / drug drivers who drive at 20 mph are never going to get caught

Simon Fulton
If drivers worry there under constant observation they will spend all their time looking at their speedo, looking out for camera's and constantly worrying whether they've strayed over the limit and just been clocked. How's that for distracting. I can just see the headlines: Child killed by driver who didn't see him run out into the road because he was looking at his speedo. That's not even getting on to the point that all a camera can catch is someone driving at 31mph in a 30mph speed limit zone who may well have been driving sensibly and carefully. Whereas a drunk driver swerving all over the road, someone driving who hasn't got a license, or someone who is driving an unroadworthy vehicle BUT at 25mph would be o.k. What makes this worse is they claim the camera's are NOT there to make money or to replace traffic Police. However since introducing camera's there has been a majour reduction in the number of traffic police on duty. SAFETY camera partnership? How stupid do they think we are. Do they publish FULL accounts of where all the money goes to from these camera's? I think not. There is no doubt in my mind that the road is now a far more dangerous place since their introdcution, and that the law abiding motorist (as someone who hasn't registered their car or has stolen it would again not get caught by these camera's) is seen as an easy target for extra revenue.

Old Bill
Question 1: If someone is detected using a laser or radar detector under circumstances where they are not committing a speeding offence, then why is this perverting the course of justice? Question 2: Camera partnerships have prosecuted drivers in error because the speed limit is incorrectly signed as in Hull and elswewhere, or as in South Wales because the camera partnership itself made a mistake regarding the limit in force. So if a driver defends themself because the autorities got it wrong why is this defence claimed as exploiting a loophole? Question 3: Many cases in my area there are collision sites. Needed road safety engineering is done and at the same time a camera site is authorised. This is outwith the guidelines from HM Govt. Yet it does not stop the camera partnerships claiming any reduction in collisions to be from the use of speed enforcement totally ignoring the engineering benefits. If drivers are expected to obey the letter of the law, then so should we the authorities. Roll on demob, can't be a day too soon.

Paul
The obsessive concentration on speed has produced a nation of nervous drivers whose confidence appears to have been destroyed. Nobody wants to overtake these days and, if overtaken, most drivers react with indignation. Skill, judgement and anticipation have gone out of the window and our roads are more dangerous as a result.

Andrew S
The advice given by the camera partnerships such as "stick to the limit" are too simplistic and many motorists will-sadly-follow this advice even where sticking to the limit is deadly such as outside a school at five to nine. Cameras do not help to alleviate this problem as you only get done for being over the limit so people will drive at the limit always thinking about not being caught when they should be thinking about the conditions and what speed should match with these conditions. It's clear now that at best cameras don't work and were and are just a fly in the ointment of reducing road casualties and deaths, they should be removed from the equation altogether.

Enrico Vanni
The panel accompanying this article entitled 'The Facts' is a joke when one sees where these 'facts' came from ie. the DfT - one of the leading beneficiaries of the revenue stream that speed cameras have created. Hardly impartial now, are they?? This is the same DfT who promoted the introduction of cameras on the basis of the 'one-third' claim ie. that 33% of accidents were caused by speeding. They have since very publicly withdrawn this claim (the Transport Research Laboratory has put the figure nearer 7%), but too late - the revenue cameras are in place.)

Jonathan Causier
I noticed Mick Harris quoting that speed cameras have saved probably 39 people from being killed or injured. It is unbelievable that people in this position can invent figures to try and mislead the public. Government reports and police fugures show that speed cameras do not affect accidents, and often camera sites have increased accident rates, hence the cameras must have caused these? Its about time these pretend safety partnerships tried to reduce accidents, and as about 7% of accidents are caused by excessive speed, perhaps they should be doing other things to stop the other 93% of accidents, or are they not safety partnerships?

Peter Farmery
It would help if there were many more signs indicating the limit for that particular stretch - half the time you can travel several semi-rural miles without knowing whether you`re in a 30, 40 or 50 zone!!

Tim B
Why do the camera partnerships keep saying that deaths AND serious injuries are going down? Could it be to hide the fact that in 2002 and 2003 the death figures increased compared to an average 5% reduction in deaths for many years until the mid-late 90's?

Jeremy Hunt
Perhaps Mick Harris and the PC in the report can produce figures that prove the Scameras work because everybody else's show that since they were introduced The numbers killed have gone up! The speed limits were used by REAL Traffic Police as a guide to educate the bad and dangerous drivers on the roads. Today we see the fallout of relying on robots. Bad driving, inattention and the erosion of trust in any enforcement agency to the point where even drink driving is back on the increase and drivers believe these agencies are now "revenue earners" and have nothing to do with road safety. The Camera partnerships believe that speed will one day be as anti-social as Drink driving. I believe it never will be. Meanwhile all the good work of the Traffic police is diappearing and we have a generation of lethal drivers who will never be caught by a camera.

s taylor (hull)
speed cameras are all about collecting money, not reducing accidents. if you have (something) fitted to your car, not a laser jammer, that tells you to slow down, thats what the police want you to do? slow down, not break the limit then they get £60 and you get 3 points. why is it done so sneakily, hidden transit vans, back of motorbikes? so you cannot see them. it keeps people like mick harris and others in work is one way of looking at it.??



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