I saw the mobile safety van on the bridge that day and I knew I was going a bit quick, so I squeezed the brake pedal gently – you never just slam the anchors on when you see a mobile camera because it’s a) dangerous, and b) doesn’t look especially elegant, frankly.
And then I hoped against hope that the camera was pointing the other way, somehow, or better still wasn’t switched on.
I reckon I’d been doing 82mph, perhaps 83mph, which to be perfectly honest is the sort of speed I usually cruise the A23 at if it’s dry, mostly empty and there is broad daylight in the sky, all of which were present that particular lunchtime.
All I did then was wait. And hope – that the letter would never come, and that the prosecution for a minor speeding offence would never happen.
For several weeks I thought I’d got away with it, but then the dreaded brown envelope appeared. The ticket had first been sent to Mercedes, whose car I was driving at the time, hence the reason it took so long to make its way down to Hove.
And so there it was, in black and white. I’d been snapped doing 81mph, which meant my licence, then clean, was about to get a small black mark upon it. But then a thought occurred – that maybe I could take one of those safety-awareness course things, given that the speed I’d been nabbed at wasn’t actually that catastrophic?
So I googled Sussex Roads Police policy and found the Safer Roads in Sussex website, which gives specific details about the various speed parameters and what they mean in terms of prosecution.
Turns out that the policy in Sussex means they don’t pinch you until 80mph on a 70mph road, so I was just one measly mile per hour into the red zone. The good news was that at such a speed I should be offered the course, which means I should be able to keep my licence clean for a mere £85.
The letter offering me the course arrived just this morning, and I’ve already signed up for it. I can’t say I’m looking forward to spending four hours in a classroom of like-minded crims on a Saturday morning in March, but if it keeps the black mark off my licence, I don’t care. And maybe I’ll learn something in the process as well.