I would like to think that I am a law abiding citizen and, while I have sometimes been known to bend the rules (some say more than many), I generally don’t mean to break them. However, during the course of my life, I have received more than my fair share of parking fines and speeding tickets, even though I did not deliberately set out to break the law, that lead to these penalties, at the time.
In the case of parking fines, I have generally overstayed my welcome long enough to get clobbered or hadn’t realised I was parking illegally to start with. There have been times when I felt the ticket was unjust e.g. when I parked with a valid permit in a restricted zone but on the counter-intuitive wrong side of the road – but decided contesting the fine was one battle I couldn’t win! In the case of speeding tickets, I was going too fast and in most cases without realising it. I can claim that my licence has for some time been clean, maybe because I am slowing down in my dotage, but that has not always been the case. I once spent the best part of the year on nine points knowing one more ticket would mean losing my license for a while – it certainly did wonders for concentrating my mind. The last time I got a speeding ticket, I took the option of going on a speed awareness course as an alternative to paying the fine and, to my surprise, discovered two goody-goody friends on the same course!
I got thinking about the subject when earlier in the week it became apparent that it is not just law breakers who can fall foul of the law or careless scatterbrains like me, but the innocent too. I attended an event held at my local town hall where a number of bays in the Council car park were freely allocated to participants, providing they displayed the correct piece of paper linking them to the event. As one of the stall holders, I can proudly claim I successfully negotiated what was needed but not so with two of my fellow stall holders, who received a parking ticket for infringing the terms whereby they could park but without realising it and as a result of getting misleading instructions. I hope their appeals will be successful, for after all they were doing something for the community and it wasn’t their fault.
But as for a system that inflicts fines on those discovered to be wrongly parking or unlawfully speeding, I expect this will be around for some time to come and the opportunities for getting people caught out in this way, especially with the advent of sophisticated modern technology and increase in traffic, will increase. I read a couple of days ago a report of one speed camera, strategically placed on the outskirts of the town where I live and I know all too well how easy it is to speed there, that manages to capture many miscreant motorists speeding, usually without them realising it. While the deterrent value to get motorists to park and drive responsibly may well be given as the reason for imposing fines, the skeptic in me knows all too well this is a lucrative revenue earning stream at the expense of the hard pressed motorist. Part of the solution is to reduce traffic and at the same time improve the environment with better public transport, which of course is another debate to be had.