Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Speeding: Wheel-Life Lessons

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Speeding: Wheel-Life Lessons

Article excerpt

Does driving make you feel good about yourself? Does it give your life some meaning? Are you exhilarated by speed? Then you may be one of those motorists who use cars--and driving--as emotional props, weapons even.

Almost everyone has exceeded the speed limit at some time in their driving career. Many do it routinely. I don't, but one recent Sunday morning I did get caught: I was doing 36 on a deserted road in the East End of London.

A few days later a letter came from the police and I was offered a choice: pay the fine, and get three points or--costing marginally more--take a two-and-a-half-hour speed awareness class for [pounds sterling]72. It was, as they say, a no-brainer. A few weeks later I reported to the London Speed Awareness Scheme. Our group had one thing in common: we'd been done for driving at 36 or 37mph in a 30mph zone. A computer Q & A assessed each individual's attitude to driving and tested our reactions and abilities to spot hazards on the road. My results said I drove slightly faster than most and had average "hazard perception", but left bigger braking distances and margins for error than is typical. My concentration level was rated "attentive".

But my "emotion feedback" told a different story. Apparently my responses to the questionnaire did "not indicate a high level of emotional stability when driving". In severe cases this could make me more likely to be involved in "blameworthy accidents" and more likely to speed. …

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