Seldom have drivers been in such an intense spotlight
Cast your eyes over the daily newspapers and they are likely to be packed with tales of drivers speeding –whether getting a light sentence for being horrendously over the limit or complaining they were prosecuted for doing 31mph in a 30mph zone.
A survey by vehicle management firm LeasePlan of its 130,000 drivers found 15% had been caught speeding – equal to almost 20,000.
Whenever there is strength of opinion, there is a relative online presence, and so irate motorists have been drawn to a range of websites purporting to be the driver’s friend.
They claim to offer advice on how to stay on the road when convicted of speeding, but have been demonised in the media as encouraging flouting of the law.
AM-online has taken a look at a handful of such sites, to find out whether they could be useful or potentially dangerous.
If there is failure by the police or safety camera partnership, either in the way they catch speeding motorists, or in the administration or prosecution, surely the driver is entitled to point this out.
A spokeswoman for the Association of Chief Police Officers said: ‘Motorists should be aware that they will be ill-advised to follow the information given on a number of inaccurate websites.’
Below is a sample of the advice offered on websites.
Pepipoo was recently singled out by Greater Manchester Police in a pamphlet targeting those who wanted to get out of a speeding fine.
The Operation Cheetah leaflet described the site as run by ‘trick dealers’ and advised: ‘Whatever they tell you, don’t listen’.
Pepipoo was started in 2000 when the founder was prosecuted for speeding. Over the next nine months he felt facts and rights were being ignored by authorities and decided motorists should have a resource to understand the laws surrounding speeding.
#AM_ART_SPLIT# The site is quick to point out that it does not advocate breaking the speed limit.
Browsing the site seems to confirm this. The various laws surround prosecution for speeding are delved into in detail, as are the requirements of the police.
There are case studies of successful defences and updates on legal developments surrounding loopholes in the law.
SAFE Speed was set up by a former computer engineer Paul Smith in 2001 to examine and challenge speed camera policy.
Safe Speed was branded ‘anti-speed camera’ by the Operation Cheetah pamphlet and Smith doesn’t deny that. His argument is not against speed limits or appropriate enforcement, but against the rise of automated enforcement.
He concludes that speed cameras are a dangerous distraction to motorists. He also campaigns against ‘speed kills’ policies, maintaining it is the standard of driving and inappropriate speeds that are the problem.
Smith’s diligent research has won admirers. A BBC Radio 4 investigation into speed cameras by Professor Mervyn Stone of University College London pitted Smith against Robert Gifford, executive director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety and he proved more than a match.
The website focuses less on helping drivers being prosecuted and more on long-term campaigning against current speed policy.
WHILE Pepipoo may be the best known website, surely the most famous individual in the battle against speeding tickets is lawyer Nick Freeman, known as Mr Loophole.
Freeman has hit newspaper headlines for representing celebrity clients, invariably helping them escape conviction or serious punishment for speeding.
He has represented the likes of David Beckham, Sir Alex Ferguson and snooker star Ronnie O’Sullivan, all of whom are still on the road.
His website, FreemanKeepOnDriving.com, offers paying clients the services of a team of lawyers specially trained by Freeman to specialise in driving law. Critics have accused him of keeping dangerous drivers on the road, but Freeman has no problem with clearing his conscience in those cases.
He said: ‘If I identify shortcomings in police procedures, then perhaps we will end up with better standards in policing and then we will all be safer on the roads because people will not take chances.’