I got done for speeding this morning. An ominous letter arrived in the mail, emblazoned with the title of the sender – Civic Compliance Victoria – so I knew before I even opened it that it had to be bad news. I confess it came as a complete surprise to me; for some years now I have been a pretty strict member of the ’don’t exceed the limit’ fraternity and I have even, to make things easier for me, set up my TomTom GPS unit so that it tells me what my exact speed is, as compared to the rather inaccurate speedo on the car’s dashboard. Coupled with that, I also drive on my cruise control, set so that the GPS shows 99kmh, even though the car thinks it is doing 105. This means I automatically stay within the limit and I don’t have to keep peering at my speedo to make sure I’m not breaking the law, an added safety feature!
So, as I say, it came as a considerable surprise to me, to receive that letter telling me I had been a naughty boy, albeit an eighty-year-old one! I got an even greater shock when, on opening it, I found that I had been fined $185.00, and the reason it said I had been traveling at 105 kilometres an hour in a 100 kilometre an hour zone, well within the default error anyone habitually gets on a car’s speedo. I was being fined for a being mere five kilometres over the limit (which I actually doubt) and I was being slugged with what, to Jacqui and me as pensioners, was an enormous sum of money. We quite literally don’t spend $185.00 a fortnight on all our housekeeping needs, food, cleaning materials and a few little luxuries, like an occasional small bar of chocolate each. We just can’t afford any more, all the rest of our pension goes on rent, fuel and our one special item, the computer. When we’ve done that each fortnight, it’s a matter of battening down the hatches and waiting for the next pension period to start, in two weeks’ time!
Now I’m quite prepared to pay the fine, though I have written to the authorities to tell them there is no way I can just pay it outright on our income, so I am asking for time, perhaps $10.00 per fortnight, which means I’ll clear the debt in about eight months. I’ve always been a firm supporter of the idea that we have to pay up if we break the law, as I apparently did on this occasion, but I must admit I think it’s a bit rich charging me $185.00 for being just 5 kilometres over the limit. That starts me thinking that perhaps all those people I’ve read about, who say these fines are just money grabbing on the part of Councils, are right after all. I haven’t been fined for a long time through speeding or any other driving offence, but I’m sure the last time I was caught doing 5 over the limit, I was only fined about $95, half the present charge!
Not only that but my recent burst of speed, if I actually had one, was on a stretch of brand new freeway in the Mornington Peninsula, only opened a few months ago and capable of quite safely handling cars travelling well over the 100 kilometres an hour limit, a limit I was happy to abide by and which I wasn’t even aware I was exceeding! The ironic thing is, on our way back to Gippsland that afternoon, we travelled on a much older stretch of freeway, nowhere near the quality of the Mornington one, but on that freeway, between just east of Packenham and Morwell, the speed limit is 110 kilometres an hour. Just another factor to confuse the motorist, with speed changes changing all too frequently. All freeways should be limited to just one rate – I don’t care if it’s 80, 100, 120 or even 150, just so long as it is consistent!
There, I’ve had my moan, now all I have to do is start saving to pay this fine, always supposing the authorities allow me to pay it off with a payment plan, otherwise you might get my next article telling you what life is like in jail!