When a fixed penalty becomes a case of highway robbery
I've only ever had one speeding ticket in my entire driving career - despite being an avowed petrolhead and motorcycle junkie who has driven and ridden all over the world.
Embarrassingly it was just around the corner from my home on the Antrim Road at the fixed camera there - a trap that I, along with most other drivers who use the road regularly, are only too aware of.
So it was no surprise to find that the same arterial route now tops the speeding ticket hotspot with an average of 12 people being booked every day.
Because I had a clean driving record I was offered a chance to do a speed awareness course which is a little more expensive than the fine, but means no points on your licence, so I took it.
The first thing the instructor asked was if anyone there had taken any further driving training since passing their test.
I was the only one there who raised their hand out of the around 30 attendees.
Many had passed their test decades before while others were clearly not long on the road.
Asked how I was caught, I explained that a driver had pulled out of a doctor's surgery in front of me, using both lanes, causing me to swerve onto the other side of the road and then accelerate to get back onto the right side of the road to avoid oncoming traffic, thereby preventing a possible accident. I was then clocked by the camera doing 36mph - at a place where I normally slow right down. Therein lies my problem with some cameras. They do not take into account all the circumstances and are simply a robot recording velocity. It did not record why.
When used properly to prevent accidents I have no issue, but it is very difficult in some situations to see them as anything more than a toll.