Not my best day at the New York stadium ...Tom Sharpe’s road test with a difference

Not my best day at the New York stadium ...Tom Sharpe’s road test with a difference

By Admin | 21/04/2020

Not my best day at the New York stadium ...Tom Sharpe’s road test with a difference


AS a season ticket holder at Rotherham United it’s an odd feeling to be walking into the New York Stadium and really not wanting to be there.

But back in February I joined almost 1.3 million motorists who attend a Speed Awareness Course, trudging up the steps to the top floor of my club’s home ground — just feet from my regular Saturday afternoon perch — for a four-hour training session.

My crime, not discussed during the alternative form of punishment for relatively minor offenders who opt not to take the three points on their driving licence?

I’d been clocked at 57mph in a temporary 50mph speed limit set up to safeguard the workforce at a point of the A1 near Grantham which wouldn’t be altered or manned, to my eyes, for a further three months.

It had been 8.03am one fateful Friday the 13th and I’d been travelling in a convoy of traffic travelling at the same speed…no doubt all of whom were nicked and faced a fine and a similar education on the rules of the road.

Did I feel bad about my transgression? Yes. Like many, I class myself as a careful, conscientious driver.

Did I feel aggrieved at being caught? As I suspect most on the course at the NYS, yes, I’d say I did.

Thankfully the tag team of chaps running the course delivered it in a fairly light-hearted and understanding fashion.

They had plenty of advice and anecdotes, to ensure that the pill we had to swallow was taken as painlessly as possible and that their words sunk in.

It is hard, even with the videos of braking performance at different speeds, the impactful adverts and hazard awareness tutorials to get people to think differently about the way they drive.

Cuts to police funding mean that a stern word from a traffic cop for observed poor driving are few and far between. Now the first you may know of your crime is a letter in the post.

With my motorcycle licence, ARDS race licence, advanced driving course with the IAM and vehicle handling courses with Porsche and CAT Driver Training in Bedfordshire my mind was focussed on learning what I could and applying it.

I’d also wanted to be there.

As the minutes ticked by at the NYS I tried to contribute to discussion, answer questions and get from it what I could. Many didn’t.

It led me to believe that the speeding message would be far better delivered out on the road, with bigger fines funding practical on-road training to deliver tangible benefits.

Ultimately, we all need to focus our minds on the road and its surroundings, stay switched-on and improve our attitudes towards road safety, though.

And the very fact that I’m still pondering what turned out not to be my least enjoyable evening at the NYS to date, months on from my course’s completion, suggests it sparked the synapses and got me thinking.

My conclusion? Driving change in motorists’ on-road attitudes is no small job…

l ONE key point never addressed during my National Speed Awareness Course was the potential impact of my transgression on a motorist’s insurance policy.

Most motorists take the course to avoid three penalty points on their licence, which the Daily Mail’s This Is Money section recently found adds an average of £209 to the average insurance premium.

When I asked what I should do if my insurer was to question whether I had taken the course, as I believe some do, I was told not to answer but to approach another insurer.

Not a wholly satisfactory or clear-cut position for my £90 outlay and hours in captivity…