Blog: Points make prizes

Steve Rose
By Steve Rose

BikeSocial Publisher. Has been riding since before Frankie said ‘Relax’, owned more than 100 bikes and has written for, edited or published most of the UK’s best known bike magazines. Strangely attracted to riding high miles in all weathers, finds track days ‘confusing’ and describes the secret to better riding as ‘being invincible’. 

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Why not reward good driving as well as punishing the bad?

Getting caught speeding by a fixed camera is annoying. Getting caught twice by the same camera in just two months is embarrassing. Getting nicked a third time is just plain stupid, surely?

I haven’t received the third one yet, although I think it might be coming. Thing is (and I’m not making excuses here, I know the camera is there, it’s my fault), this set of average speed cameras are particularly sensitive to motorcyclists. For one thing they are rear facing – that’s what caught me out the first time; 67mph in a 60mph zone… I never even knew average speed cameras could be rear facing.

The second time was even more frustrating. I know they are there but the car in front is speeding up and slowing down while weaving around worryingly. I’m guessing the driver is either texting, having a fit or drunk. Either way, I’d rather not be around when the accident happens so I pull out and wiz past as quickly as safely possible. Unfortunately, these two rear facing cameras are less than a mile apart and it doesn’t take much time at overtaking speed over this distance to lift your average to 67mph (again).

And then, last night, three hours into a four hour ride home that should have taken two and a half, I waft through the two rear facing cameras at 59mph and speed up a little before the next forward facing one another half mile down the road. And then get paranoid about whether a magistrate can make an ‘assumption based on me looking like the front view of the rear view they already have a picture of and how ‘reasonable’ does ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ have to be?

I’m not looking for sympathy, I am a criminal and I’ll accept my punishment. But here’s the thing. My riding has changed this year. I try and ride really carefully, very politely and with consideration for other road users. I’m proud of the way I can glide through traffic without affecting anyone else’s journey. And that got me thinking back to an idea I had a while back about reforming the driving penalty system to incentivise good driving as well as punishing the bad.

What if, using the almost global coverage of CCTV cameras on most major roads the authorities found a way to automatically award points for good driving. So, every time you let someone out at a junction you get a point. Every time you keep the correct distance, another point, stick to the speed limits for a whole journey to get ten points etc. There can be an app, like the ‘health’ ones on your phone that, instead of measuring steps taken record points awarded per journey.

And as the weeks and months pass our good driving will rack up a whole load of points which, at the end of the year can be cashed in for a discount voucher off your road tax. Good drivers will have a record of their brilliance that insurance companies can use to reduce premiums and the money saved now that the emergency services will spend less time hacking people out of wrecked cars will pay for the road tax discounts. Everybody wins.

Plus, when you do have a slight indiscretion and stray over the speed limit, the points deducted come off your total. In proportion, of course. So, a minor speeding offence might take 25 of your 100 accumulated points, a more serious one, could take 50 points and, obviously, the serious offences (drink driving, dangerous driving and texting) carry enough of a weighting that you are automatically banned. Maybe the rule is that anyone going into negative points gets banned immediately and the length of the ban (from 24 hours upwards) is based on how negative your number is. So, if drink driving or texting carries a 10,000 point ban, that could see you automatically off the road for five years. Making the penalty system automatic and transparent would also free up the courts to deal with proper criminals.

Obviously, it’s not perfect and I’m sure there are holes to picked, but surely, any system that rewards and encourages good driving has to be a good thing.

What do you think? Let me know  in the comments below…

 

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