Tag Archive | "police"

We Need More Police

In a surprising turn and clearly bought on by the invidious use of heartless speed cameras, law-abiding motorists have become frustrated by the lack of a police presence on Britain’s highways and byways and believe there is little chance of law-breakers being caught and prosecuted.

Motor Blogger spends a lot of time behind the wheel and can confirm that driving standards are dropping. The purpose of indicators is to let other roads users know your intentions, for example, yet increasingly bad drivers are manoeuvring without recourse to that troublesome indicator stalk.

We’ve all seen idiots using mobile phones, sending texts and so on and sadly it is clear that many lazy brainless motorists in modern Britain think there is little risk of being caught breaking the law for anything other than speeding or running a red light – offences typically enforced via cameras – so why, they think, bother with the rules at all?

For the best part of the 20th Century, motorists bemoaned what they saw then as the draconian enforcement of traffic rules by actual human policemen. At every turn there seemed to be cops lurking in lay-by’s ready to catch the unwary, but here’s the thing: although there’s a bad apple in every barrel, for the most part the cops were able to judge each infringement on merit and act accordingly. Oftentimes this resulted in a reprimand and a stern warning rather than an instant penalty. As a motoring nation we moaned about this but now, perhaps, we are beginning to see the light.

It seems that forty percent of law-abiding car users believe anyone committing common offences such as texting at the wheel of either a moving or stationary vehicle, aggressive driving, tailgating, middle lane hogging or undertaking on the motorway would more than likely get away with it. Sixty percent of motorists surveyed believe this is because there are insufficient numbers of police officers on the roads to enforce driving laws.

The only offences that motorists truly believe are dealt with effectively are the ones that are enforced via cameras such as speeding and traffic light violations which is why we‘ve long since arrived at the ‘cash-cow’ debate. It isn’t just the roads either, there are simply not enough cops, period.

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“Sorry Officer; It Won’t Happen Again.”

Yeah, right. Did you hear about the man whose wife ran away with a policeman? When he saw the flashing blue lights in his driving mirror he put his foot down because he thought they were bringing her back. Or how about the woman who assumed her speedo was deficient because she was at high altitude in the mountains?

“It never does that at home!”

Just two of the many excuses used to try and get away with a speeding offence.

No doubt any experienced traffic officer will be able to regale an audience with excuses, both clever and lame, that motorists use when caught going too fast. He probably will not reveal those where he was in the wrong – that’s another story.

The trouble with an excuse is that there is no excuse. Sure, you might get away with it if your passenger is about to give birth, but that’s about it; and anyway, there’s never a pregnant woman around when you need one (Curiously, there sometimes is when you don’t!). So, apart from matters of life or death your card will be marked, matey. Names will be taken. Heads will roll.

Modern cars have very accurate speedometers but they don’t measure how fast a vehicle is going; they work on how many times a wheel, or axle or driveshaft rotates. Then, by the power of electronics, they convert that to what a driver sees on his or her gauge. There is a variable. New tyres make the wheel ‘bigger’, if that makes sense, as does increasing the tyre pressure.

As a consequence the car will appear to travel further which will extrapolate to a greater speed. The same thing happens conversely. Thus, a small difference in wheel diameter gets exaggerated because the wheel is turning maybe six or seven times a second. Compounded, this can mean a difference of a few miles per hour. It’s a good idea to really learn the science of this. You can explain it to the boys in blue; they love a good lecture at the roadside. Can’t get enough of them.

Some people prefer to use the information provided by their navigation devices. These work by measuring the exact distance covered over time by GPS tracking. They can be affected by signal quality and, in some instances, struggle to factor in steep hills. Whichever system a driver uses there is always a margin of error.

The law requires that speedos must never show less than the actual speed and must never show more than 110% of actual speed. To counter this, manufacturers tend to calibrate their gauges high, thus helping to save drivers from themselves. This is also why the cops allow a margin of error although the same can’t be said of speed cameras which, as you know, have no soul.

Overall then, car speedos tend to read higher than sat-navs. It is not however the place of Motor Blogger to recommend one device over another. If you remain resolutely below the advertised speed limit you should be ok. If all else fails you could try slipping a fifty pound note on the ground and ask, disingenuously, if the officer had perchance dropped it. This is an especially good plan if you need a bed for the night.

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“690BHP – You Lose!”

The next time you are in Dubai and taking advantage, Richard Hammond style, of that nation’s magnificent desert black-tops, be warned. You will not outrun their new cop car because it is a Lamborghini Aventador. The speed limit in Dubai is seventy five miles per hour. If you exceed that they will look for you, they will find you and they will nick you.

Presumably, in a nation of many supercars, the police need something that can trounce most of the miscreant vehicles. This is not, however, the first time a Lambo has appeared on the streets in official guise. In 2004 the Italian company donated a pair of Gallardo sports cars to the Polizia di Stato. They were used ceremonially and on active service – that is until an over-enthusiastic driver wrote one off!

Down under in the Land of Thunder, Sydney to be precise, the lower North Shore echoes to the sound of a Porsche Panamera. Allegedly the car is used solely for community purposes but, frankly, that’s hard to believe. Meanwhile, German police have a twin turbo Brabus tuned CLS Rocket which they no doubt put to good use on the Autobahns.

In Texas – where else? – everything is bigger and better and one sheriff (not exactly a small dude himself) chose as his cop car of choice a nice big Hummer. Not content with the basic motor he upgraded it to a 6.9L V8 with an increased displacement amongst other modifications; the car delivers 150 mph and a torque figure of 910. He also wears a big hat.

In fact, American Police have always had good cars. Many great cars have been observed in police livery including a few of the outstanding muscle cars of legend. The interstate highways of America have seen Corvettes, Vipers and Mustangs, but mainly the cruisers of preference since the 1950’s were the Chevrolet Caprice and the Ford LTD. They were cheap to buy and, most importantly, were rear-wheel drive and had the obligatory V8 engine.

In the 1970’s, the heyday of hot cars and CB radio, a popular choice was the American Motor Company’s (AMC) Ambassador with the 401 cubic inch four barrel power plant. A very capable performer. Meanwhile, in the UK, our cops were trundling around in Austin Leyland Allegros – consistently voted the worst car ever. Occasionally, off-duty British traffic policemen were seen exiting screenings of Smokey and the Bandit with tears in their eyes and wishing they drove the Pontiac LeMans with the four litre V8 just like good ‘ole Sheriff Buford T Justice. Now that’s a cop’s name!

Attempts have been made to put police onto roller skates or bikes, an idea which nobody but the originators took seriously, but the car still rules. These days traffic cars in the UK seem to be a bit thin on the ground but if you’re going to get stopped for speeding what could be better than an Aventador to do the job?

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