Just as I finished this morning's post, the mail came. One item was a letter from Dinnages, the Volvo dealer, inviting me to come in and discuss buying a brand-new '14' registration Volvo. Do they think I'm rich or something?
Another was a formal invitation from M--- and C--- (my nephew and his girlfriend) to their wedding next May. Very happy to get that!
The third item was from the Kent Police. I was expecting it.
Three days ago, when driving over to see my cousin R---, I'd tried out a new route between Pembury and Kings Hill. This involved driving directly cross-country, using the A228. It proved to be a mistake. The A228 was obviously much-used by heavy container lorries, as a link between the A21 and the M20 motorway. It was a slow road.
So I joined the end of a long queue of vehicles trundling along at 40mph or less. This was highly frustrating. It went on for mile after mile. I was only able to overtake once north of the Hop Farm at Paddock Wood, where there was a dual-carriageway section. By then I was running behind time. After overtaking a long line of vehicles, I slowed to negotiate the roundabout where the northbound A228 meets the B2015. Just beyond the roundabout there was a 50 mph sign. But I was still in dual-carriageway mode, and paid it no heed. I sped away, pleased at the prospect of at last making rapid progress on the straight road that lay ahead. I seemed to have the ongoing A228 entirely to myself.
But I wasn't alone on that road. A van was parked on the left. As I got closer, I read 'Police' on it. And I saw a camera lens recording my approach. I curbed my acceleration, glanced at the speedometer (which at that point said 56 mph), and drove on very carefully.
Damn. I knew that they'd caught me speeding. I was, most certainly, over the 50 mph limit. No argument about it.
What would they do? How much leeway might they allow? I discussed this with my cousin. She said that the police did allow some leeway. If I wasn't driving carelessly or recklessly for the road conditions, and my speed wasn't too much over 50 mph, then they might let me off. So possibly I might hear nothing more. If however I'd been going so fast that they couldn't use any discretion, then I'd face a fine and penalty points on my driving licence.
But then she described how an elderly neighbour of hers, caught in similar circumstances, had been offered a Speed Awareness Course instead of the fine. The Kent Police were known to be keen on re-education, and might be minded to offer me the same thing. Ah, that sounded positive. My clean, unblemished driving licence would now be spoiled for the next four years by having three penalty points marked on it. No escape from that. But a £100 fine as well! I'd rather spend that money on the course, and get something useful from it.
This morning's communication from the Kent Police was a Section 172 Notice, requiring me to confirm that I was the driver, and to provide certain details. It told me that the camera in the Police van had caught me doing 61 mph. I couldn't possibly argue. That almost certainly meant penalty points and that fine. I filled in the form and posted it back this afternoon with a covering letter. They'll get it on Monday, and then we shall see. I was sorry and very humble in that covering letter. And I drew attention to the Speed Awareness Course, saying that I could get real benefit from it. No lie: I'm sure that it would be so.
Whatever the outcome, I have taken this as a wake-up call. I have accordingly been driving within the speed limits. I've decided that if I need to press ahead, I will now do it using intelligent driving skills, and not just a big engine and a heavy right foot.