Friday, January 15, 2010

Bad example set: Top traffic cop ticketed

It's probably tempting fate to say this but I've been driving in WA for over 30 years without a single traffic violation. I am a pretty careful driver but must admit to always pushing the speed limit at least a bit. I have been pretty lucky but what's really important is that I seldom drive roads I'm not familiar with. It's on unfamiliar roads where it's easy to miss a change of speed limit and get nabbed, usually by an automated camera.

Police have twice pulled me over for speeding. Both times the officer noted that I was from outside the area, told me to slow down and let me go without so much as a written warning. Speed cameras don't lecture or cut speeders any slack, they just click away, offenders often unaware of their infraction until days later when the notice arrives in the mail. And so it was with Victoria's top traffic cop Ken Lay when driving through unfamiliar territory:

Mr Lay was driving a Victoria Police work car as he returned from talks with police officers on the NSW border town of Barham.

He said he was driving alone and "a couple of hours down the road" had slowed to go through the town, but did not notice the speed limit.

In hindsight, Mr Lay said he should have taken a break from driving to stop fatigue setting in.

When he received the penalty notice in mid-November,
he could not remember driving through the town.

So for around six weeks Lay was unaware that he had, for the first time in 35 years, been caught speeding. Gee, that's six weeks in which the much touted deterrent effect of speed cameras didn't apply. I don't care what anyone says, being pulled over by the cops, or even seeing someone get pulled over, is much more effective at getting drivers to slow down than are speed cameras cranking out relatively painless fines. But given the revenue stream they generate speed cameras are obviously more cost effective than police officers who can let people off with warnings.

Anyway, Lay is taking quite a bit of heat for waiting until now, after the Christmas speeding blitz is finished, to announce his ticket.


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