But are they a danger?

Safety groups along with the usual suspects (aka the Daily Mail) have gone into seeming hysterics (which is how I interpret “voice alarm”) over the figures that 9,000 motorists are driving around with 12 points or more on their license.

Mail.

Nearly 9,000 motorists are still driving despite having the maximum 12 penalty points on their licences, new figures show today.
Motorists who build up 12 points or more within a three-year period are liable to be disqualified from driving under the ‘totting-up’ system.
However, courts can use their discretion as to whether a driver is banned.
The findings have alarmed insurers and road safety groups.
Blackpool, Oldham and Manchester have the highest proportion of drivers with 12 points or more, the statistics show.

Now I think that the judges using their discretion in this case is probably right, 12 points on a license to me doesn’t make you a dangerous driver. careless over speed, using a mobile, jumping lights perhaps or just plain unlucky. Certainly some of the 12 pointers will be dangerous, however some will be professional drivers who do a lot more than the yearly average for the UK and who need their licenses to make a living and to lose your job over what the judge may view as a lapse of concentration seems a cruel and unusual punishment. The massive prevalence of cash cows safety speed cameras does not help either as they don’t encourage driving to the conditions, simply being set on the road limit during the most busy of times. What might be acceptable during rush hour or the school run might just be completely ott at midnight when there’s no-one else around and no other traffic either.

What judges appear to be doing is identifying those who are a danger, from those who aren’t, I’m not saying they’re getting it right every time, but at least somewhere there’s a human in the system, the government still have their eyes on fitting a black box linked to a gps system to monitor speeds and distances for tolls and have had proposed automatic fines and penalties to be taken directly from your account. People could end up being banned without knowing they’ve even been fined.

Perhaps we should go in the opposite direction though and only permit points when it’s a human doing the recording, sure have cash cows safety speed cameras, but they only permit a fine, not a penalty (within limits) and only those who are caught doing something truly dangerous get banned, not those who have a lapse of concentration when going through roadworks at night.

Perhaps if the powers that be treated us as adults I might have fewer qualms about safety groups and insurers, but to my mind both appear to be looking at the wrong target, points do not give any reasonable indication as to how good or bad a driver is.

6 comments for “But are they a danger?

  1. May 4, 2012 at 7:18 am

    “…g and to lose your job over what the judge may view as a lapse of concentration…”

    Several lapses of concentration, actually! They may not – in all cases – be a danger. But they are certainly flouting the traffic laws, aren’t they? I’m afraid losing your job as a result is one of those consequences we all seem to want to see put back into the justice system as far as I’m concerned.

    No sympathy.

    • May 4, 2012 at 7:30 am

      That doesn’t necessarily make them a danger though, or indeed a dangerous driver. Unlike the few who get tanked up at a pub and drive home without passing a speed camera on the way home.
      Speed is not even a major factor in most accidents and whilst excessive speed under certain conditions is a problem, doing 60mph on a dual carriageway just before the limit rises from 50 to 60 (as regulated by a camera van near Maidstone) isn’t.
      Btw I do have a clean current driving license, so have no real axe to grind here.

      • May 4, 2012 at 8:36 am

        Ditto! Not even a parking ticket! 🙂

  2. Mudplugger
    May 4, 2012 at 9:22 am

    There is a wider issue over motoring penalties, such as where the consequence dictates the penalty, rather than the offence.

    Doze off at the wheel, drift over onto the banking and damage a road sign and you may be fined and endorsed for ‘due care and attention’ – fair enough, most would say.
    Commit the same basic offence, but just have the bad fortune to slide down onto a railway line when two trains are coming, derail them and cause deaths, and you end up serving many years in jail (Gary Hart at Selby). Yet the offence was the same, only the incidental and unintended consequences were different.

    True, the latter case provokes tabloid hysteria, but its basic offence was no more serious than the former, so why the gross difference in penalty ? Judged by a human.

    And yes, I too have an unblemished license and have never dozed off at the wheel in more than a million miles ….. so far.

  3. ivan
    May 4, 2012 at 10:11 am

    I noticed the other day the Fail got all upset that a bloke had been driving for 50 years without a license to which my reaction was ‘so what?’

    Over here I know several people that are driving without a license and have been doing it for more than the 20 years I’ve been here, the thing is that it is legal! Also no one pays ‘road tax’ or whatever it’s called now – the French gave that up years ago.

  4. Maaarrghk!
    May 7, 2012 at 5:58 am

    I have often wondered whether or not some of these people on 12 points or more have ever actually comitted a single driving offence.

    Could simply be some company director who has been unable to identify drivers of company vehicles that have triggered theft cameras. As registered keeper, he has to take the rap but has comitted no offence other than that of failing to provide information.

    It seems odd that we are focussing over 90% of resources on speeeeeeeeeeeeding when the government own accident figures have said for many years that it only accounts for around 6% of accidents. They are still a bit coy about how many of those accidents involve unlicensed/drugged drivers in stolen or unroadworthy vehicles, so we may still not have the full picture.

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