“That we come back?”
“Right first time, top table over there! If you fail to return from the toilet, your conviction will not be quashed.” (Some awkward laughter here.) “Right. OK. Smart phones. We’ve had delegates here taking sneak pictures of themselves when a celebrity’s present. (Yes, ladies and gents, celebrities do drive.) So switch off your mobiles – no selfies!”
My crime? A speed camera had flashed me at 30 mph in a London residential district. I can see the point of the EU-enforced 20mph limit – a car trundling along at that speed is hardly a Formula 1 hazard – but most drivers surely ignore it. “You must not ignore it!” said Sam. An average of five people are killed on the roads in the UK each day. “That’s 1,775 a year too many”, he explained. It used to be much worse. The national 70mph motorway limit was imposed in 1965, after fatalities were five times as high as they are today. By 2018, we learned, all cars will be required by EU law to have a dashboard SOS button that connects to the emergency services via Bluetooth.
In the coffee break I sprinted across the road, Olympic Games-style, at approximately 15mph for a sandwich. “You from Speed Awareness?”, the café owner asked me. I nodded yes through a mouthful of bacon, lettuce and tomato. “Well slow down – you’re eating your BLT too fast!” Oh please.
Back in the training room, Mario spoke to us eloquently of road deaths and they might be avoided. “Basically the more paint you see on the road – speed bumps, zig-zags – the more the local history of death and injury.” Had I redeemed myself? “Nice work ladies and gents, you may all now leave without a conviction!” I walked home at a steady 3-4mph, mindful of cyclists and that other pavement hazard: the mobility scooter.
1 November 2016.