a simple guide to getting it right when buying insurance

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I have to warn you this is a tale of Law Breaking, Deceit, Treachery, Justice and Reality. Yes folks, reality….in the real world……not made up guff that’s been scripted for TV!!

It all started when my wife received a letter from the Police notifying her of an intention to prosecute, due to her vehicle being spotted at an excess speed in a 70 MPH limit.  Ever the dutiful wife, she promptly grassed me up to the Police and proceeded to say her car was being driven by me on the day in question!! Which, yes it was and yes I had been waiting for the letter to arrive.  As I had seen the mobile safety van perched on the bridge, over the A23 from an interstellar distance away and smashed the brake through the floor the second I saw it.  I thought it couldn’t have got me in a neighbouring galaxy, surely, but it had.  

Obviously, I hadn’t got away with it and obviously, had I not been speeding I wouldn’t have had to stamp on the anchors in the first place, anxiously await her majesty's finest to send my wife a letter, or have my wife betray me (I jest of course….about the anxious wait!!!)…..don’t want the fine, don’t do the….yeah, you know how it goes.

So, after a few more weeks I received my very own letter from the Police; very thoughtful.  They were advising me that they had been notified by Judas Iscariot…err my wife, sorry, ahem, of being the one in charge of the vehicle and the alleged offence along with the intended prosecution.  However, a glimmer of light, they were offering a Speed Awareness Course.  Having spoken to people about these in my day job, I knew this was a saving grace for me.  I chose to apply for the course and avoid prosecution which entails points on my licence (which incidentally was clean) and a fine (which is now £100).  It was a no brainer; working in the insurance industry, I know that 3 points for an SP50 Endorsement would have implications for my insurance costs and my wife’s for the next 5 years. I can’t claim to be squeaky clean, I have had points when I was a lot younger, nearly 20 years ago and Speed Awareness Courses weren’t available then.

I booked my course online, which had to be completed within 4 months of the offence date, otherwise it reverts to the original offence and points, etc would follow.  The local centre to me was booked to beyond the cut off point, so I had to book at a centre further afield….this was starting to irritate me, but still better than points.

Having now attended one of these courses, I thought I’d share my experience with you.  Not to give you all the answers of what to expect or to condone speeding, but to tell you how I found the whole experience and whether it will change the way I drive in the future!  Not every Police Force offers a Speed Awareness Course, as some constabularies have a zero tolerance with regards to excess speed.  Thankfully for me and my licence, this is offered in my area and I wasn’t ridiculously over the speed limit so I was offered the course.  In exchange for attending the course at £85 a pop, I don’t get any points on my licence.

So the day arrived and I drove over to Brighton Race Course (there’s a certain irony there I think!) for what I thought was going to be my 4 ¼ hours of telling off. I checked in on FaceBook (as you do) that I’m attending an event at Brighton Race Course, but quip it’s not for the racing and that I am there for a Speed Awareness Course and comment on the slight irony of the location.  I receive a few laughing Emoji’s in response and some likes.  I enter the waiting room, where there is free tea, coffee and small biscuits on a table in the corner.  This isn’t looking so painful after all.

Like everyone else, none of us wanted to be there, but it was our own actions that had brought this huddle of miserable looking faces together on a sunny Saturday afternoon.  I grabbed a coffee and biscuit, then sat at a table with two other guys. In fact, it will come as no surprise that it was mostly guys there, about 75% I would say.  I thought I’d give a little ice breaker and joked about it being like waiting outside the Headmasters office.  A rye smile was given in reply from my fellow felons at my table and one commented, “I just want to get this over with”.

I thought about the fact that there was no shame attached to this, it’s only speeding at the end of the day, unlike if you had been done for Drink Driving (which I haven’t ever, by the way).  That still carries a stigma about it, unlike speeding, which still seems to be acceptable, if not just seen as an annoyance when driving.  Maybe, Drink Driving is seen in that light because you get arrested and you are not fully in control of the vehicle.  Even though - as I would find out during the day -  Drink Driving is not the major killer of motorists or pedestrians that it once was.  So this is part of the problem, people think speeding isn’t such a big deal.  

In this day and age statistics run our lives and the authorities’, as they need proof to back up what they are saying to us.  Boy were we in for some stats!  We were given some booklets, which I flicked through and saw there were some activities to complete along the way, oh joy!

There was about six tables set out with chairs for six or seven people per table,  David, one of the instructors advised that we should get to know one another and make a list of what we were hoping to get out of the course.  Here we go, prepare for patronisation! We went through the motions - begrudgingly - and read out our list similar to the other tables…Improve Driving, Awareness of Speed, Whether you need to advise your Insurers or Employers and Become Aware of the Dangers.  “We will cover all of these”, he said and started his slide show with the running order and you guessed it some stats.

I made a note of the stats, (which they encouraged) for this site mainly and I was probably the only one to do so.  Actually it turned out there was some interesting stuff; Great Britain’s roads are three times safer than the USA per Capita and two times safer than France and Germany.  How do they know this? Well the grim reality of it all, is mortality stats:

2014 UK

Where they occurred 2013 Stats:

Road Traffic Accidents is the Number One Killer of young people (15-25) in the world, with 2,400 fatalities/Hr.  One child per week is fatally injured in a Road Traffic Accident in Great Britain.

I actually quite like stats, which probably comes from the analytical side of me and my day job.  So here’s some more and this is where you start to realise that speeding actually can make a difference.  We talked about the consequences of having a serious accident and looked at how it would affect the various people involved.  One table “Played” the victim, another the at fault driver (who was speeding), then a witness to the accident, plus the family of the victim and the family of the driver.  Once you start to pick this apart the amount of people this affects can be far reaching.  It will affect peoples lives, if there’s a life changing injury or fatality. Here’s a list of things we came up with:

Pain, injury, loss of job, loss of earnings, what if the bread winner in a house is no longer able to work or do their job, loss of friends, arguments within family, stress, divorce, fines, court, litigation, prison, moving home, rehabilitation after serious injury, having to move home due to being wheel chair bound, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), this could be victim, driver, passenger, witness etc.

Speed Limits

Speed limits are there to protect pedestrians and they become lower the more densely populated an area is.  A lot of cities now have 20 MPH limits or zones. So how do you know what limit you’re in.  If there’s street lighting (excluding motorways) and no “repeater signs” then the limit is 30 MPH, unless you are in a 20 MPH Zone, which only has signs as you enter the area and no repeaters, however, there is usually traffic calming such as speed humps, cobbled roads etc which should make you aware of what the area/zone is.  If there are no speed repeater signs and no street lighting then it is the national speed limit (60 MPH on single carriageways, 70 MPH on dual carriageways - also see vehicle specific limits)Why is the limit in built up areas still 30 MPH or even 20 MPH in some cities? We were shown a table of pedestrian fatalities versus your vehicles speed:

 Vehicle Impact Speed Versus Survival Rate



 






As you can see the chance of survival of pedestrians and cyclists changes dramatically between 30 MPH to 40 MPH your chances of survival decreases from 80% at 30 MPH right down to 10% at 40 MPH.  So even a few miles an hour over the limit could vastly change someone’s survival prospects.

Vehicle Specific Speed limits

We were then asked to fill in the speed limits, depending on a road or the type of vehicle, which I mostly got right.  How many do you know?

You must not drive faster than the speed limit for the type of road and your type of vehicle. The speed limit is the absolute maximum - it doesn’t mean it’s safe to drive at this speed in all conditions.

A speed limit of 30 miles per hour (mph) or 48 kilometres per hour (km/h) usually applies, unless you see signs showing otherwise.

National speed limits



























































* Vans/car-derived vans and dual-purpose vehicles

                           This applies to vans under 7.5 tonnes laden (loaded) weight, inc Ford Transit vans:

A vehicle qualifying as a ‘car-derived van’ or ‘dual-purpose vehicle’ has the same speed limits as a car.

** Motorhomes

Motorhomes/motor caravans are classed as goods vehicles if they:

Locally set speed limits

Local councils can set their own speed limits in certain areas, and these must be clearly signed.

For example:

Speed limiters

A speed limiter must be fitted on:


Speed limiters are designed to reduce accidents. They limit the maximum speed of a vehicle by restricting the fuel supply to the engine. Having a speed limiter may mean that your vehicle can’t reach the speed limit.


The main difference I noticed from the start of the course to about ½ hour in was that people were listening.  Others had started noting down interesting facts and people were generally a lot more engaged in what was going on.  Still some wanted to be elsewhere, but it was bearable, it wasn’t the naughty schoolboy telling off I was expecting.

The rest of the course involved hazard perception, with ‘actual hazards’ and ‘potential hazards’.  We watched a video of a car which seemed to be speeding along and we had to note how many potential hazards there were.  On the first run, we got about 7, on the second play (which you don’t get in real life), we spotted about 12.  The film that we saw had a Police Officer driving and was only doing 27 MPH.  It just shows how much information you need to take in when negotiating our roads and how much more I’ll be trying to concentrate in future.

Overall, a good well thought out and presented course.  I went away thinking about consequences and was also astonished by some of the facts and figures that were given to us.

Vehicle Speed

Chances of Survival %

20

97

30

80

35

50

40

10

50

1

Vehicle Type

Built Up Areas

Single Carriageways

Dual Carriageways

Motorways

Cars, Motorcycles, Car-derived vans and Dual Purpose Vehicles *

30 mph

60 mph

70 mph

70 mph

Cars, Motorcycles, Car-derived vans and Dual Purpose Vehicles when towing caravans or trailers*

30 mph

50 mph

60 mph

60 mph

Motorhomes or Motor Caravans** (Up to 3.05 Tonnes Max Unladen Weight)

30 mph

60 mph

70 mph

70 mph

Motorhomes or Motor Caravans** (Over 3.05 Tonnes Max Unladen weight)

30 mph

50 mph

60 mph

70 mph

Buses, Coaches and Minibuses (Up to 12 Metres Overall Length)

30 mph

50 mph

60 mph

70 mph

Buses, Coaches and Minibuses (Over 12 Metres Overall Length)

30 mph

50 mph

60 mph

60 mph

Goods Vehicles (Up to 7.5 Tonnes Max Laden Weight

30 mph

50 mph

60 mph

70 mph

(60 mph if articulated or towing a trailer)

Goods Vehicles (Over 7.5 Tonnes Max Laden Weight (in England & Wales)

30 mph

50 mph

60 mph

60 mph

Goods Vehicles (Over 7.5 Tonnes Max Laden Weight (in Scotland)

30 mph

40 mph

50 mph

60 mph

Speed Awareness - You Could Save Someone’s life


Your chances of survival as a cyclist or pedestrian when hit by a vehicle decreases from 80% at 30 MPH right down to 10% at 40 MPH