Sunday, 21 July 2013

Why isn't it acceptable to stick to the speed limit?

Two months ago I had the privilege of attending a half-day Speed Awareness workshop and I really do mean 'privilege'. Of course I didn't view it that way before I went, having reluctantly chosen to attend a workshop rather than have 3 points on my then clean driving licence. It would have been easier and cheaper just to accept the points, along with a fine of £60, as opposed to paying the £80 workshop fee, but there was no way I wanted points on my licence.

I was annoyed with myself for being caught speeding - I genuinely didn't know the speed limit on the road where I was caught by the mobile speed camera van parked in the layby. It turns out I was doing 36 mph in a 30 mph limit. But doesn't everyone have an excuse of some kind? Of course they do.

So, I went along to the local Holiday Inn venue on a Sunday afternoon at 2 pm not at all looking forward to spending the next 4 hours paying my penance. There were 24 other offenders crammed into a room, all of us looking resigned to enduring what was to come.

As it happens, the workshop was an excellent driving skills and Highway Code refresher. It was also highly interactive and, judging by the comments made on the way out, I'm quite sure everyone left feeling that it had been 4 hours well spent. I learned how to tell what the speed limit is wherever I am and I now appreciate why the 30 mph limit should be adhered to, and any other for that matter. There was a whole host of other useful tips and facts that we came away with but, most importantly, I left with a very real intention to be aware of my speed at all times and to stick to the limits as far as possible. It's just not worth risking the agony of killing a child, an animal or another road user, potentially getting a prison sentence and suffering the inevitable increase in car insurance.

But then came the hard part - putting my new resolution into practice for every single car journey. It really does take constant concentration and awareness of my driving all the time. My journeys now take longer and the 30 mph limit is particularly difficult to stick to. It's so easy to lose concentration and let the speed creep up unnoticed. The worst thing is that I always have someone on my boot now and so close that I can see the annoyance and frustration on their face in my rear view mirror. People just hate sticking to the speed limit, especially the 30s, let alone the 20 zones.

Not long after I attended the workshop, I made a 120-mile journey to visit my parents in Surrey. Most of the journey was dual carriageway and motorway but there were some single carriageway roads and villages to go through on the way. I resolved to do the whole journey sticking to the speed limits and drove at 70 mph on the dual carriageway stretches. Well, hundreds of cars sped past me during the journey, proving that the overwhelming majority of us exceed the speed limits.

I know I've turned into a boring, annoying driver, but I don't have to worry about the consequences of speeding any more. Most of all, I wish it were more acceptable and even 'cool' to stick to the speed limits.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Facebook is not for the depressed or lonely

Is it just me or does anyone else get really down after checking their News Feed on Facebook? It seems to be full of people commenting on all the interesting things they're about to embark on, or are doing or have done. It's full of photos of happy times with children and friends, social interaction, holidays, days out and restaurant outings. Yes, there are a few mundane comments about the weather or something that's gone wrong, but the vast majority of posts are extremely positive.

I know it's a great thing to be positive, enjoy life and share your love of life with others but, if you're feeling lonely or depressed, I think Facebook is not a good idea. In general, people don't post to say they're feeling down or bored or fed up - it seems to be the accepted protocol not to write negatively. On the other hand, people do feel free to vent their anger about things or complain or state their annoyances - that seems to be acceptable - but I rarely, if ever, see any posts about someone feeling sad. I'm quite sure there are plenty of people sitting at home feeling that way, but they probably wouldn't feel at liberty to post about it for fear of spoiling the positive atmosphere of the Facebook environment.

I've been feeling very down of late due to many things that have happened in my life over the past few months and this morning I realised that whenever I check my News Feed I feel worse. Part of me wishes I could just go on Facebook and say, "Hey, I'm feeling bad today" but what would that achieve? Am I hoping for sympathy, invitations to meet up, or what exactly? And who is going to 'like' a comment like that anyway? What if no-one were to 'comment'?  No doubt that would make me feel much worse. So, I've decided to leave Facebook alone until I become one of those positive people again and can enjoy reading what others are doing. Hopefully it won't be long before I'll be sharing a few posts of my own again, even if it's just to state my annoyance about something.