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Driving At 159mph Is Safe

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Driving At 159mph Is Safe

Old 19th May 2005, 02:09
  #41 (permalink)  

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Jeremy Clarkson should get him and The Stig on that track they use in identical cars and see if he really is the holy grail of expert drivers.
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Old 19th May 2005, 02:23
  #42 (permalink)  

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As an emergency driver I am appalled at the abuse of priveliges demonstrated by this man and the fact that he got away with it.

There is NO justification for travelling at that sort of speed whether it is for testing purposes or indeed for a genuine emergency call.

The creme de le creme crap being spouted by the judge is bolleaux, humans were never designed to make the high speed decisions required by driving under normal conditions, let alone at 159 MPH.

When I man the rapid response vehicles I limit myself to 100 MPH (on motorways/dual carriageways etc) if conditions allow for that speed, that is the limit our local traffic feds stick to, so I figure that I cannot be criticised for that speed and that is as much as I feel comfortable doing.

In recent years one of our response cars was tugged doing 120 MPH as was a response motorcyle doing 130 MPH (both on the same dual carriageway), a severe talking to was administered and a warning along the lines of 'Do it again and you will be reported' (both vehicles were responding to emergencies at the time).

One of things that I am most surprised about is why he wanted to expose himself to the risk associated with such high speeds, as I have said before, my main priority en route to an emergency is to get my crew mate and myself there in one piece, with minimal risk to ourselves and other road users.

Many ambulance services are introducing a local policy where exceeding the local speed limit by more than 20 MPH will result in disciplinary action from the trust (I appreciate the law does not recognise the policy), this policy is simply to minimise risks to the trust and frankly, I am all for it.
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Old 19th May 2005, 03:10
  #43 (permalink)  
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If said poiceman was chasing a nutter that had just knocked down one of your kids and had high tailed it onto the motorway would still think the same way?

In a situation where a policeman might have to drive at these speeds for genuine reasons I would hope he could do so safely.
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Old 19th May 2005, 04:09
  #44 (permalink)  
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Motorways may very well be 'quiet' in the early hours of the morning, but people do the darnest things. I was driving up the M6 at 2 am when I came upon a chap with his car jacked up changing a wheel in the Middle Lane!!! Now, I'm not the creme de la creme that this policeman is, obviously, but spotting the idiot in the dark at the extreme range of my headlights and hitting the brakes I probably went past him at about forty, literally shitting myself. Going past him at 150plus, the suction could have killed him...

As long as people have access to any public road there is no way that travelling on it at over 150 mph can ever be safe. At any time of the day or night. Nor going through a village at over eighty.

Not ever.


If there really is a policy that allows "highly trained" drivers to "familiarise" themselves with a car in this way, then it is plain wrong and its a policy that must be reversed forthwith.
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Old 19th May 2005, 05:52
  #45 (permalink)  
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I refer specifically to Road Traffic Police in the following.

Our police drivers were once considered the best in the world. I seem to remember that they were invited to instruct here for a while. (I remember a US officer saying how he did not understand the policy of not crossing hands.)

There is no doubt that any officer that is going to be called on to enter into pursuit, must regularly drive very ,very hard. They must, and do, re-train--by hours of such driving on refresher courses. They are, or were, required to verbalize every detail of what they see ahead. Only with training like this will 100 MPH seem like slow motion, leaving mind-space for other workload. Aircrew, is this starting to sound familiar?

Observation and anticipation are the key issues, and in these skills they will be infinitely better than the average driver. They are generally very, very good at what they do.

Well, that was the argument for the defense.

The wider argument as I see it is, can pursuits at very high speeds still be in the public interest?

Driving from Essex to Newcastle a wile back–on a single carriageway at c 02:00–I was overtaken by a police Volvo at around the speed mentioned above...Trust me on that. There was no warning, and not a sound as he went past. I wasn't very pleased, cos I had just that second considered moving over for a fox in the hedgerow. I just had a gut feeling about the lights behind me that looked a mile away. I know (with almost complete certainty ) that he was doing it because he loved doing it. I also know that he should have slowed down to overtake.

In recent years, there have been some terrible accidents that show that entering into pursuit is something that should be avoided in all but the most vital situations. The increase in road traffic in the last 10-15 years is I think, some hundreds of percent...certainly at night.

You now have an unsafe practice being used--to help keep the public safe. I have an uneasy feeling that the harm has outweighed the good over the recent short term. One would have to determine what constitutes good, before doing any statistical analysis.

A huge amount of work is being done in this direction, but I fear that three factors are working against safety. One/ The colossal increase in people on the roads and sidewalks. Two/ the need for far more officers diluting the available training. Three/ The sheer power of modern vehicles giving unprecedented speed capability.

In the last point officers need an entirely new kind of training. Very clear understanding of the physics and mechanic of high speed...and continued high speed training . OR an absolute limit on top speeds.

There is an urgent need for a universal policy.
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Old 19th May 2005, 06:51
  #46 (permalink)  
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Haven't looked at the link.

All very well saying the Police driver can cope with 159mph.

But how does he know that other drivers can cope with him? A lot of attention these days goes into compesating for what other road users do, or don't do, in order to avoid accidents. Driving at 159mph makes that totally impossible.
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Old 19th May 2005, 06:58
  #47 (permalink)  
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The issue that I think most people will have is the apparent inconsistancy in the application of the 'law'.

A fixed or mobile camera takes no notice of the prevailing conditions and yet they are deemed the 'best' way of enforcing speed limts...you could be driving without a licence, no insurance etc etc etc yet under the speed limit you are pretty immune from prosecution.

This admitedly skilled Police trained driver is, I am sure, more than physically skilled and able to drive as fast as he did in the conditions he did, but that's not the point, most people are able to safely drive over the artificial limits imposed.

What is not acceptable is the lack of judgement that individual displayed in taking the action he did. Regardless of the 'need' for practice etc etc he made a deliberate decision to impose his will on an unsuspecting and uncollaborating public....If Police drivers need training to drive at high speeds there are test racks that can be used where as much practice as is needed is possible without endangering others.

It sends a message of arrogance and distain for the public which only serves to reinforce the notion that the Police are there to ensure we are kept in line, like naughty school boys...

Whilst jail would not have been an appropriate response, his failure in judgement in this case should have been reflected in either withdrawal of his Police Driver 'priviledges' and attendant public driving priviledges or at least some formal comment as to his error.

I hesistate to say this but it also makes a slight mockery of the 'need' for Police helicopters in vehicular pursuits....if its so essential that ground units are able to do this then why 'bother' with helos?. Note I would prefer the helos to do the job as:-
a) I have yet to hear of an accident between a helo and a car during a chase,
b) police helo pilots are pilots first and policemen second whilst flying
c) Escaping from a helo is far more diffuclt than from a ground unit....

So either way the Police come out looking hypocritical, which is not a good place to be.
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Old 19th May 2005, 07:20
  #48 (permalink)  
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If someone would have stepped out, that would have been it.
A colleague of mine at Heathrow was killed in Harlington WHILST ON A PEDESTRIAN CROSSING by a police driver.

Dozens of people are killed each year by Police drivers. Many of these aren't the tearaways they're chasing, but innocent bystanders.

There was an incident recently where a Police Volvo T5 finished upside down in a ditch during a 'low-speed' handling exercise around some cones, within a closed-off area. Fortunately the occupants weren't seriously hurt, but the car was written off, completely un-necessary.

There is an urgent need to review the rules for the Police. The Emergency Services, Fire & Ambulance, both have strict gudelines and will hang drivers out to dry for accidents as a result of breaking them. On our airfield, we sometimes have to make a rapid response to incidents, but at no time must it be at the expense of personal or 3rd party safety. We're going through a programme of enhanced training for our staff authorised to do this, bearing in mind we'll be on open taxiways...

It's high time the Police had the same guidelines as the Emergency Services. Some Forces now won't allow their officers to conduct high-speed pursuit if it might result in 3rd party injury.

The Odd One
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Old 19th May 2005, 09:11
  #49 (permalink)  
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Can I pick up on Paracab's comments earlier in the thread where it appears that there are no (or only recently introduced) guidelines for emergency drivers, and the speeds that they should limit themselves to? Although I notice that The Odd One seems to contradict this, I'll comment anyway as it may well be different in different areas.

I'm astonished that in this day and age of HSE guidelines from the moment you get out of bed in a morning that ALL police/fire/ambulance services don't have clear guidelines to drivers about how far they can push it over the limit. I could understand that they wouldn't want to broadcast them, but they seem not to exist at all in many areas. In my (laymans) opinion there must be a speed, even in the dead of night, where the risk involved in reaching it outweighs the benefit, and (in the case of police pursuits) it should be a helicopter or nothing. 120-130 on motorways, less on lesser roads springs to mind as a suggestion.

Given that a car being chased is very likely to be driven erratically, then forcing the perpetrator up to anything like these speeds is only going to have one outcome, and a fair chance of taking others who aren't involved out with them.
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Old 19th May 2005, 09:16
  #50 (permalink)  
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A PC near where I work was driving the area car to a call when he clipped a corner a bit tightly, and met a police Astra coming the other way. Both cars were written off, thankfully with only minor injuries to the drivers.

The PC is now known as Chi-Chi.

Because he f*cks Pandas.
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Old 19th May 2005, 09:34
  #51 (permalink)  
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Off course all the yobs they intend to chase now know what sort of speed they have to travel at to get away and what sort of car to nick!
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Old 19th May 2005, 10:04
  #52 (permalink)  
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Spare a thought for the ambulance driver who got nicked speeding(we all remember this don't we?) last year taking a vital organ to a hospital. Wonder what he thinks of all this.....
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Old 19th May 2005, 10:06
  #53 (permalink)  
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I'm sorry but this whole episode p****es me off totally.

I too can drive "perfectly safely" on an empty motorway at 159 mph at 01:00 - I don't because I'd be a danger to other motorists who are also on the "empty" motorway. This police officer was totally irresponsible, I simply don't care how well trained he is / was - he is clearly mentally incapable of utilising his training responsibly.

As to the comment that he was highly trained, using that logic , we should all go and get advanced driver training from the Institute of Advanced motorists. That would surely give us a similar defence we we run through speed cameras in the middle of the night at 90 mph in a 70 limit - or at 45 mph in a 30.

The lesson I take from this is to respect our policeforce even less that I do now. When it comes to the important things that effect us in our every day lives - burglary, antisocial behavior, street crime and the like they hardly care a sh1t. Traffic - now thats something totally different, and to add insult to injury, it's now clear there's one rule for them in blue, and their mates, and another for the rest of us.
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Old 19th May 2005, 11:32
  #54 (permalink)  

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I am outraged by this case.

As an ex police heli pilot I know that one policeman I used to work with WAS successfully prosecuted for speeding at 100 mph in an unmarked police car. He believed that he was justified in the circumstances. What does HE think, I wonder?

This particular driver may have escaped prosecution but is he seriously now going to expect to have any credibility if he stops a motorist for speeding? I sincerely hope not. Quite difficult now that his photo has been published in the papers.

Also, my car insurance policies have always stated that cover is NOT provided for racing, pace-making, or speed testing. What is the police insurance cover in the event of such driving in a non-emergency situation?

I have always been a strong supporter of our police in the past and flown them around for a number of years. However, I sadly realise that I am losing respect for them every day.

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Old 19th May 2005, 13:41
  #55 (permalink)  
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So how many people who get stopped for speeding will use the same excuse that the policeman use and get away with it?

Anybody who has been caught for speeding in the past few days should fight it as the Police have lost the moral authority to enforce laws that they themselves are seen to disregard and get away with. 9mph over the 70 could see you with 3 points and a fine, let alone 90mph over it!

Most police forces these days have access to air support so there is no real need to be driving at such high speeds and it is not as if the pursuit car is going to be the only one involved is it.
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Old 19th May 2005, 13:55
  #56 (permalink)  

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Jabberwok said
If said poiceman was chasing a nutter that had just knocked down one of your kids and had high tailed it onto the motorway would still think the same way?
If said policeman was chasing a nutter (or even testing out his car) and knocked down one of your kids (at 80 mph in a 30 mph zone) in the process, what way would you think then?
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Old 19th May 2005, 14:06
  #57 (permalink)  
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Think we'd all better buy bullet proof vests, this Officer is "Also trained to use firearms".....
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Old 19th May 2005, 15:01
  #58 (permalink)  

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This is outrageous - I have read the whole thread but I think I'm repeating very little that may have gone before.

If he was "unfamiliar" with the vehicle, why was he driving alone. My driving may not be "creme de la creme", but I do have many years experience as a military pilot, flying instructor and examiner, and one who has taught instructors and examiners.

So questions are:

Why by himself

Why on a public road

I do accept the need for familiarisation, but not on a public road for fecks sake. There are many test tracks available.

And can a mere constable decide for himself what he wants to do? If it's "training" or "familiarisation", is there a syllabus and authorisation. If not why not?

Did he tell his "control" what he was doing - err, they might have known about the loose sheep ahead (it has happened on the M 54) had there been any.

Surely by definition, if one is "unfamiliar" with a new type - you are not in a postion to decide for yourself what to do, and where any potential pitfalls of the type may be.

I also know the M54 quite well - most is only two lanes and like most motorways (I think by design) has few long straights - and at that speed his stopping distance would have been the thick end of a quarter of a mile.

An owl-strike could have ruined his day too!

Sorry for the rant and the read across from flying practices but:

a. These are pilots' fora after all - at least in theory.

b. Some aircraft I've flown would have been pushed to do 159 mph (138 kts)

He was IMHO toally out of order. Good luck with the appeal CPS - were I a conspiracy theorist I might think it was all part of a plan to get rid of Magistrates!
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Old 19th May 2005, 16:48
  #59 (permalink)  
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Having seen the video of this the weather was awful, he was in the vehicle himself and there were quite a few other road users around eh?

So if i go down the dealership this weekend and say "Can i have a road test of my new M3 at 155mph so i know what it will be like on a track day" anyone think i would get off? Doubt it even though i have the odd racing licence or two...
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Old 19th May 2005, 17:22
  #60 (permalink)  
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teeteringhead, as I believe U_R has already noted, this was not a lay magistrate coming up with this "rather strange" result, but a fully paid-up fully legally qualified District Judge (Magistrates' Courts). In other words a Stipendiary. I agree with U_R that it is hard to conceive of a lay Bench coming to the same conclusions. Of course, those of a cynical turn of mind might wonder if the case was deliberately put before the D.J. rather than the local Justices for this very reason. As if!!!
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