Graham Hurdle's blog: 18th July: When is a rule not a rule?
18 July 2014
Graham Hurdle is managing director of E-Training World
Her local council hit a grandmother of six with a £70 fine after stopping her car outside a school for just seven seconds.
Charity worker Joyce Sale, 71, from Birmingham, West Midlands pulled up on zigzag lines outside a school in the city as she searched for a parking space.
She was left furious after her seven-second stop led to her being filmed by a nearby CCTV van and sent a parking fine.
What interested me about this story was the way it was written. I felt the Daily Mail made no attempt, to its millions of readers, to reinforce the message of why road laws exist and why floating them shouldn't be encouraged. Instead they used the following emotive words in their article; 'Grandmother', 'Stopped for JUST 7 seconds', 'Charity worker', 'Widow'.
So when is a rule not a rule? When you are a charity worker? When you are a grand parent? When you only break a rule for a very short period of time?
I'm certain there will be a lot of sympathy for this driver, but if we were to apply the same logic to other misdemeanors on our roads, would we be quite as understanding?
How about a driver who "only" glances at a text message for 1 second whilst travelling at 60 mph through a built up area? What about someone who "only" goes 5mph over the speed limit past a school? How about an individual who dodges a red light because it hasn't been changed for long?
The harsh reality is that we all tend to have double standards when it comes to punishments caused by poor behaviour on the roads. You hear company car and van drivers bemoaning their fines, saying 'I was only just over the speed limit', 'I wasn't parked there for long', 'My tyres were only just below the legal tread'.
Yet I believe all of these examples demonstrate a poor attitude.
The lady believed she was treated badly by Birmingham City Council because she only stopped illegally for 7 seconds. Yet I wonder how long Ms Sale would have stayed on the yellow zigzag lines if she'd spotted the enforcement camera before pulling over? I doubt if she would have stopped at all.
Just like many drivers who get caught for being just over the speed limit. Their anger is usually about being caught, yet they were in the wrong!
The upshot is that a really safe fleet is one that doesn't see endless fines for drivers, is usually run by a company that has worked on drivers' minds and values and has a strong culture towards road safety.
So when you're looking at your fleet's accidents and fines, consider how you can start to change attitudes permanently. Long-term change is far more rewarding than a quick fix.