I'm going to get out my soap-box today 'coz I'm angry. Maybe I shouldn't be. No one else seems to be, which will explain the lack of 'links' in this post.
So what's got me 'sounding off' again? Well it's that court hearing on Wednesday for Lee Bowyer, the Newcastle and ex-England (only has one 'cap' mind) mid- fielder who pleaded guilty for speeding at 99 mph in a 70 mph zone. (News article) There's been plenty of 'jumping up and down' by campaign groups like Brake and the RAC Foundation, who felt that a 45 day disqualification and £650 pound fine with £100 costs was far, far too lenient (he was banned for speeding in 2003 and reputedly earns £30 – £40 grand a week!!). I'm sure our friend Bystander can advise on sentencing guidelines in such circumstances. No, what really 'got my goat' were the comments made by Mr Bowyer's solicitor, Nick (Mr Loophole) Freeman outside the court, after the hearing.
So, this week's award for the Biggest Load of Bullshit goes to Mr Freeman.
I heard this on Radio 5 Live and haven't been able to find a transcript, but in summary he (allegedly) said.
- Mr Bowyer drives over 50,000 miles per year and this makes him a better driver.
- Mr Bowyer owns a car capable of 200 mph therefore driving at 99 mph was not 'unreasonable'.
Now, whatever one may think of the intellectual abilities of Britain's footballers one must consider that Mr Freeman has at least a grey cell or two; after all, he managed to get a law degree. So lets consider his two statements.
Doing 50,000 miles a year makes Mr Bowyer a better driver. Perhaps Mr Freeman would like to start up his own car insurance firm. Drivers with above average annual mileage would be given reduced premiums because they're obviously less likely to have accidents. How can insurance actuaries have been getting it so wrong all these years? Statistically, the more you drive, the more likely you are to have an accident. Consequently there are higher premiums for above average milers, plus additional premiums for business use; and Mr Bowyer uses his car to get to matches so I'd have thought that counted as business use. Mr Freeman, however, will be adjudging this type of car use as 'superior' as it makes for a better driver (apparently). Hope my insurance company is taking note "can I have a reduction in my premium next year please".
I drive about 70 to 100 miles per shift, plus overtime. So annually I rack up around 16,000 miles at work plus another 14,000 or so for domestic use. Call it a round 30K per annum. I've not had a 'prang' yet (touch wood), so statistically I'm due for an accident any day now; particularly when you consider that I've been driving for nearly as many years as Mr Bowyer has been alive. (I'll be writing a post soon, I'm sure, about this forthcoming accident). Don't tell my insurers though, not 'til I've got that reduced premium.
Secondly, because Mr Bowyer's car is capable of reaching speeds of 200 mph it's OK for him to drive at 99 mph. So, on the premise that the more expensive the car, the faster it goes – not unreasonable I'd have thought – those who can afford a more expensive car should be allowed to drive faster than the rest of us. And by implication, they must be better drivers 'coz they've got more 'dosh'. Why not set a minimum speed limit on the outside lane of the motorway at say, 70 mph, then those of us in our fiestas, peugeot 206s, etc can poodle along at 70 mph on the inside lanes while the 'rich' can race their porsches and ferraris along at 150 mph on the outside one.
I can't honestly believe that Mr Freeman opened his gob and spouted this crap. Presumably, as he mostly represents the rich and famous, (see here for details) he's got a 'flash' car too and that means he's a better driver than the rest of us. Now I've completed a 3 week, full-time driving course for the ambulance service, and two weeks of that was an intensive high speed response course, all based on the superb book RoadCraft – the police 'bible' I believe. I also get to practice my 'progressive' driving every shift. Safely I hope. I have the advantage of a highly reflective car, lots of blue flashing lights, and some pretty loud sirens; the ambulances have an air horn to boot – great for making people jump! Not withstanding all of that, I abide by the rule of thumb that the maximum safest speed for a 'blue light' response is the legal limit plus 20 mph, ("use your noodle, take into account the road conditions and other users"). So the maximum speed I'm going to travel at is 90 mph. Still well short of Mr Bowyer's 99 mph and he's not 'done' the course or got any of the warning devices. Where on earth does Mr Freeman get the idea that faster cars should somehow be exempt from the national speed limits?
The man's a nincompoop!
Finally, just in case there's a 'sad-o' out there who thinks it's just sour grapes on my part "coz I don't have a flash set of wheels" let me just say that in my pervious life, before 'ambulance world', I was a city trader (that's blown my cover); and yes I did own a 'flash' car that could do in excess of twice the legal limit. I admit that, with hindsight and my current level of training, I was a terror on the road in those days. I didn't have the skills or the 'nouce' to appreciate how dangerous I was. I took it to the limit on the autobähn and it scared the sh*t out of me. Just 'coz I earned the 'big bucks' certainly didn't make me a better driver, in fact I was a right arsehole!