Holmsey Big Brother is watching

By Press Release Sep 27, 2021

How’s your driving? Be truthful. Are you as safe as you once were, or are you the opposite of nocturnal, and only now drive in daylight hours? (The word you’re looking for is diurnal – Ed) Like me, new councillor for Binstead, Ian Dore thinks the Island has a driving problem and he isn’t keen on the former council’s solution, speed cameras. Councillor Dore has called for the reintroduction of dedicated police patrols, and I think he’s spot on.

Until February 2015 we had often-ruthless traffic cops routinely patrolling the Island, but they were axed to save money. These days, the vital job of catching speeders, drunks and dangerous drivers is undertaken by armed response units as an add-on, we get the odd blitz a couple of times a year too.
The old Conservative council wanted to spend £300,000 on two average speed cameras. You may have experienced them on the mainland; they can easily catch you out while motoring in unfamiliar territory. In London, a combination of speed, bus lanes, low emission zone and box junction cameras make even the most law-abiding drivers sweat. Someone I know was caught three times in quick succession in the same location.

Speed cameras are dumb, ‘and blind’ says another pal, who was caught twice in the early hours. “There is no way a police officer would have given me a ticket for doing 59 in a 50 at 2am, but the camera did,” he said indignantly. He’s an accident-free driver, but while on an empty section of the M3 motorway one night, he broke the law. The lower limit on the southbound junction, where it joins the M25, is there to make the road safer, but the 50 mph limit should operate only during the day – when there’s heavy traffic. But it’s always on, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, raking in millions for the exchequer.

Average speed cameras record your speed and registration plate as you pass; if you reach the second camera before you should, bingo, you were ‘speeding’ and get a ticket. Fitting just two of them on the Island would do nothing for road safety. We’d all get to know where they were, and only visitors and idiots would actually be caught; locals would simply slow down temporarily before speeding up again when safely past.

Robot cameras are no substitute for real traffic police officers – but in any case, I suspect technology will soon render all cameras useless. Many cars already record speed and other data; it’s probably only a question of time before we will be prosecuted on that evidence alone. My new car actually tells me that I’m being recorded as I start the engine, yet no-one told me it was there when I bought the car. It’s always recording my every action, and also tells me how long it will take me to get home, which is great, except I haven’t ever told it where I live, nor do I tell it if I actually want to go home! Several times its predictions have made me so cross I’ve suggested it minds its own bloody business!

You may find yourself wondering where all those juicy car taxes will come from when we all go electric? Inevitably fuel and road fund licence duty will need to come from satellite tracking technology. It’s a question of when, not if, although as Sir Humphry might have said: “The politician that introduces such a policy will be very brave indeed Minister!”