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Thursday, 8 October 2020

Traffic Cam

I have been watching the post (or the mail if you call it that) in trepidation.

Recently, we took daughter back to university: you can’t do art studio and ceramics stuff at a distance online. So she has to chance it with our hurdy gurdy covid policy – let all the students catch it otherwise we’ll have to bail out the universities, and the private landlords will go bust and we can’t upset them because they vote for us and donate money, and we’ll just have to cross our fingers that not too many students develop serious chronic health conditions.

Anyway, that’s a digression. On the way back, after leaving the motorway, you have to run the gauntlet of speed cameras. I know where they are and have learnt to be careful, but you know how it is: you have been going along at 70 and have to re-adjust to slower roads, and you are tired after five hours driving and are nearly home, and perhaps you relax too much and don’t pay enough attention. I got through most of the cameras unscathed but was left wondering about the really nasty one which is obscured by bushes just after the speed limit changes from 40 to 30. It is one of those high-tech, bi-directional Truvelo D-CAMs with no flash and hardly any road markings. I was watching out but when I thought about it again it was half a mile behind and I had crept back above 30 with no memory of passing the camera or checking the speed.

I hate the things. They caught us on Lendal Bridge in York during the first week it was restricted to buses and taxis only. There were few signs or road markings. By the time we realised where we were going there was no alternative but to proceed across. A similar thing happened in Newcastle. We found ourselves unable to turn round with a choice of either entering a private car park or going through a ‘bus gate’. At least they provide nice photographs of you driving where you shouldn’t. And at least Newcastle let us off with a first-time warning, and York council had to refund the penalty after the Lendal Bridge restrictions were challenged and judged unlawful.

    

Remember how it used to be? There was a time near Selby in the blue mini (see blog header), in the days before servo-assisted anti-lock brakes, when, foot-down, I came round a bend to see a parked car on my side of the road and a bus coming towards me. I scraped past with a deep scratch along the side. There wasn’t a mark on the parked car but the man who had been peeing behind it had a dripping wet trouser leg. It gave new meaning to the phrase “making a run for it”.

In a later car, when I lived in north-east Scotland, I would do the 750-mile round trip home several times a year. In those days you could dash along for miles at ninety without much fear of offending the police. I once managed the one-way trip, with one rest stop and one petrol stop, in less than six hours. The smooth slate-grey colour of my exhaust pipe was the envy of every motor sport fan. On other occasions, when there was no traffic on the three miles of gradual descent on the motorway between Sheffield and Doncaster, that little car could do a hundred.

Still later, in 2001, I had a new Golf funded by travel expenses. Once it was well run-in I wondered how fast it could go but chickened out at a hundred and twenty (193 km/h) on the M1 south of Sheffield. Nowadays, the cameras would have you straight away, followed by a court appearance, a heavy fine and disqualification. Do it too many times and you would go to prison.

I only did that kind of thing a few times and would not do it at all now. These days, there is no alternative but to observe the limits. That’s a good thing. I know of too many tragedies to think otherwise. And I do try to keep to the limits all the time, we both do, particularly since someone close had to go on a special course after getting caught by a camera.

The university trip was nearly three weeks ago. You should be informed of camera transgressions within fourteen days. The post lady has just walked by. Nothing for us. I think I’m safe for now. But, it’s probably only a matter of time.

33 comments:

  1. I hope your daughter has a safe and healthy college time. I think traffic cameras should be (and in many places in the USA are) unlawful. They are known to be calibrated a bit incorrectly to result in more traffic fines. I hope you don't find a ticket in the mail.

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    1. She tells us she is being sensible. A lot of people here believe traffic cameras are more about revenue than enforcement. Everyone makes mistakes at times. Some cameras generate enormous amounts of money, especially at confusing junction or where there is poor signage.

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  2. It would be sensible for the herd immunity that life goes on as normal at universities and living and learning is not corrupted with restrictions. I understand that camera images for speeding motorist offences are normally processed and communicated within 14 days.

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    1. I understand that it's 14 days too. It was obvious what would happen when students returned to the halls of residence, and when the children went back to school. I just wish the authorities would be honest about it. The trouble is, schools and universities are multi-generational communities. I think university campuses are as safe as they can be, but students' accommodation and their lifestyle is a problem. As regards schools, they really are problematic. A friend of ours, a teacher in his mid-fifties caught it almost certainly at school, and he has been worryingly ill for two weeks and continues to be so. Not everyone has access to oxygen and drugs on demand. His family have not been too good either.

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  3. Quite a few traffic cams in the US have been forced to discontinue because they're inaccurate or picking up wrong vehicles in a line of cars. Or ticketing for things such as right turn on red which is legal!
    I hope your daughter stays well, and I do feel your anxiety about her.

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    1. All kinds of automatic computer vision applications contain biases and inaccuracies. I know, I worked with it for a period. I think if daughter gets it she'll probablhy be all right - some of her friends at other universities have got it and seem to be recovering well. But we don't want her bring it back here. The potetial long term effects for older people can be unpleasant and even life-changing.

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    2. I received a ticket in the mail long ago, for a parking offense in a city in Wisconsin. I lived in NJ, had never even visited the city in question. However, it was one of the few times when I absolutely knew where I was at the time of the offense, and had witnesses. I was in labor with my son, had several doctors, complicated situation, and nurses. The ptb dismissed the ticket and congratulated me on the new baby. Evidently they had written out a wrong plate number.

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    3. I suspect here they would still pursue you by saying it was your car and someone esle must have been driving. They rarely admit to being wrong.

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  4. Every once in a blue moon I receive a beautiful photo of my car in the mail along with a demand for money. The last time was when I was driving home from the airport probably about 3 years ago, so thankfully it doesn't happen all that often!

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    1. The trouble is here that for some offences such as speeding they also award you points on your driving licence, and the insurance companies use this as an excuse to demand more money.

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  5. I know that feeling all too well Tasker. There are a couple of villages between here and Bedale - quite out on a country road and suddenly the speed goes to thirty and it is so easy to slow down gradually rather than pull up suddenly. Trouble is that gradual slow down takes quite long enough to be caught out by a speed camera.

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    1. It really is a sinking in the stomach feeling isn't it. I've been so lucky that all I've ever had to date (seeing that York refunded me) was a run out parking meter fine in Leeds in the 1970s.

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  6. Just think, you can donate to the uni or fund the traffic system. Don't begrudge.

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    1. The implications of being caught by a speeding camera here are not just a fine, but penalties on your driving licence which can add up to a complete ban, and higher insurance premiums. And it can happen even if you are just a bit over the limit, e.g. 35 in a 30 zone, which is so easy to do if distracted, although they do offer attendance on a speed awareness for a first offence if not too much over the limit.

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  7. It sounds like you have had a little experience with these traffic cameras! I have been fortunate in not being caught by the cameras however I went through a heavy-foot phase in my 50's where I received several speeding tickets personally handed to me. I learned my lesson and have done better in my 60's!

    What gets me is the fact that these days there are cameras everywhere you go both inside and out. In cities here every intersection has multiple cameras and all businesses and offices have many cameras both inside and out. It does help in solving many crimes and I think that is the primary reason for them these days.

    I hope your daughter stays covid free at school. This is a difficult time to have children of any age.

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    1. It's like 1984 - especially with the covid track and trace app (which I don't have because I don't have a smart phone). One wonders whether we will end up being fined for walking the wrong way on a footpath, or crossing the road before the green man lights up.

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  8. Only time I got caught out was a strategically placed camera at the bottom of a hill, clever that was. I refused the hypocritical lesson in how to drive better and paid the fine. Hope your daughter manages to stay safe, it is all a worry.

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    1. Actually the "someone close" who went on the speed awareness course said it was very informative and from what they have passed on from it I think I agree. I still hope never to have to attend one myself, though.

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  9. I watched a Jim Davidson video, he puts them out twice a week. He was talking about being caught in a speed trap, and opted to do the Speed Awareness course because he already had points on his licence and more would put him over the top leading to a ban. Arranging when to do the course, he was told he could do it any time he liked, because it is online now. That made me chuckle.

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    1. Online! What a joke. Presumably they still charge you the £100 for it. Hypocritical. At least when you had to attend in person you had to be seen to be taking it seriously.

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    2. I now see that you can do the part one theory of the driving test online. Easy, just have a copy of the Highway Code to fill in the answers.

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    3. Cheat! When it first started there was a question something like "Another driver's behaviour has upset you. It will help if you (a) stop and take a break (b) drive after them flashing your lights, gesturing with your hand and shouting abusive language". Believe me, it really does help if you do (b).

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  10. Re the top photo and your first line, these days the post watches you.

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    1. Or, if you don't watch out for the post you'll be watching out for the post.

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  11. Now why did I imagine you as a Reginald Molehusband figure tootling along in a Morris 1000 puffing away on your pipe? Instead, I discover that you are Yorkshire's vey own Dick Dastardly! As Mrs Dunham is often heard to say, "SLOW DOWN TASKER!"

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    1. Yes, the only speed limiter I'll ever need in my car.

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  12. I recall having a friend point out on one of your motorways a speed camera camouflaged to look like a tree. What sort of trickery is that?!

    Glad you missed being ticketed this time around.

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    1. I doubt they would be allowed to do that, but some of them are still pretty hard to spot. We have a hand-held satnav that goes knock knock knock when a camera is coming up but didn't have it with us that day as we knew the way.

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  13. Speeding stories make such entertaining reading. Thanks for the laugh; my memories pouring out. I won't regale you with them. We'd be here till morning.

    UNLESS I drive in a built up area with kids potentially trying to retrieve a ball I put pedal to the metal. Blame the motherland. My country men are ultra observant of speed limits in villages, towns and cities yet when hitting vast stretches of the Autobahn only your horsepower is the limit - sanctioned by the law. Not that France, Belgium or the Netherlands take any notice if you exceed their pitiful speed limits by a large margin. Or maybe I have just have been extraordinarily lucky during thousands and thousands of miles over the years. Let's hope I won't have to eat humble pie or, rather, swallow my driving licence before my time is up.

    Here is a conundrum: What would you do if your licence is as unblemished as the driven snow, and a friend or spouse asked you to take their points because they are basically done for, ie, as you explained to some of your other readers, in England they'd lose their licence for a good twelve months or so? I was once put into that position - and such are the mysterious workings of the human mind I can't remember what I did. It's literally a blank in my memory. Most likely I wrote the person in question a rock solid alibi (I can be persuasive) and they just about got away with it. Well, that's what I tell myself since I do draw the line at outright fraud.

    U

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    1. Pedal to metal? Please issue a warning next time you are planning to drive anywhere near Yorkshire. As regard the conundrum, The politician Chris Huhne and his then wife Vicky Price went to prison for that in 2013. I wouldn't do it for a friend. I would probably do it for Mrs. D., but more likely I'd just become her chauffeur. Rhetorical because her licence is as snow-like as mine.

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  14. I got pulled over by the police Friday evening. I just about had a heart attack. I can't imagine two weeks of nervously checking the mail. I barely survived the 10 minutes it took to finally hear why I was pulled over!

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    1. BTW, There was a problem with my plate. They issued a paper so that the state would send me a new one without charge.

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    2. What a relief. I've still received nothing so must be OK. When younger I was always very nervous if a police car was either following or just in front. I was sure I'd be stopped for something. It took a long time to realise that they really don't care unless they have to. It's too much bother.

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