John Taylor: Speeding penalty

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White Van Man must be crawling up the walls.

Fines for tailgating? Sacrilege. Points for using a mobile at the wheel? It’s me ’uman right. Whatever next?

Endorsement for a two fingered salute to some muppet doing less than 85 in a 50mph zone. Where’s the fun in van driving if you can’t be intimidating?

But as seen on ‘Police Interceptors’ if apprehended it’s best not to give Plod a mouthful, as was discovered by an army motorcyclist during the First World War, when he was stopped for driving at the reckless speed of 18 mph in a 5pmh limit.

He was a Corporal of the Royal Engineers and, in evidence, Inspector Callaway said that while on duty at Fenny Stratford crossroads he and two special constables had seen him approaching at an estimated speed of 18mph.

This he allegedly maintained after passing a 5mph speed limit post, and just when a horse and cart was about to cross from Aylesbury Street. Fortunately one of the special constables managed to prevent a collision and Inspector Callaway then stopped the motorcyclist.

But on being apprehended, he not only failed to produce his driver’s licence but retorted, “Report what you like, it will make no difference to me.”

In his defence he said that being new the machine couldn’t travel above 12 mph and on passing the speed limit sign he had cut the engine, and stopped when signalled to do so.

Nethertheless, at the hearing Colonel Giles said that, “When riding on duty you must have a warrant to that effect, signed by an officer not under the rank of Major.

“We do not want to be hard on you chaps, but the public must be protected, and if this sort of thing goes on we shall have to approach the military authorities.”

Given two weeks to pay the Corporal was fined 20s, although had he pleaded guilty the amount would have been far less.