Having topped the blind brow of a hillock on the Brecon Road at 47 mph (vs. the legal 40 mph) I was faced with a choice:: a fine and three points on my driving licence or four hours’ speed rehab at £80. Not everyone gets this no-brainer option.
I expected things to be worthy but dull. But it was better than that. I haven’t seen the Highway Code since I passed the test (St Valentine’s Day, 1963) and a ten-question quiz (Where does a 40 mph or 50 mph speed limit apply? What is a repeater sign?) revealed signs and practices now unknown to me. Answering the provocative What are the advantages of driving above the speed limit? helped invert my thinking.
A class with a fiftyish average age (six women) was said to be typical. Surprisingly it was women who invoked the war-horse defences about tailgating and the imperative to break motorway limits under certain conditions. Lorry drivers adopted low profiles, perhaps not caring to be among amateurs.
Braking distances were presented in a new way which teased my techno-brain. Since driving doesn’t always afford a hi-fi version of one’s surroundings we were given blurry photos of seemingly normal lengths of road to interpret for threats and other inferences. There was coffee, we were police-less, instruction was by a civilian, the time slid by.
For my final pledge I wrote: Remember G. He was manager I knew, a decent sort, invited to a boozy Christmas lunch. Driving home he crashed and killed a father and two children. The judge said jail was necessary but almost superfluous. G had lost his job, his future, his very personality. He was obviously racked by remorse he would take to the grave. Booze then, speed now. Both indulgences.