62 Penalty Points and Still Legally Driving

As a new driver one of the things which bothers me is getting points and losing my license. In the first 2 yrs after a driver passes their test, you are permitted 6 points. This means you basically get 1 strike for many offences before you lose your licence. Unless its using a mobile phone, accidents, drugs, drink, massively over speed limit, all of which are 6 points or more which are instant losses for a new drivers.

There is a list on Driving Ban, about what offences get you what points and fines. The discretionary powers of police officers surprised me, even if the police vehicle camera gets you, the officer can overrule it given sufficient reason. 

In the South East of England alone there are around 10,000 motorists who have more than 12 points on their license, the vast majority have 12-18, but there are a handful who have 30+. This potential means there maybe as many as 70,000 in the whole of the UK, which is a scary statistic. I can’t find FOI requests for the whole UK, and can only find reference to the South East.  

Accidents Happen

More recently on a Friday night when a couple of drunks were messing around and dipping into the road. I spent a little too long watching them to ensure they didn’t come in front of my car or anyone else’s car for that matter. I was also keeping my eye on the road in case I needed to swerve around them, checking for other vehicles, and I wasn’t checking speedo as often as normal. At the time of writing this, I don’t actually know if I got a penalty for that, but it will suck if I do. 

Gatso Speed Camera

Gatso Speed Camera

Its a rubbish situation to be, do I check the speedo more often, while scanning road conditions, my rear, and increase the risk hitting an drunken erratic behaving pedestrian or prioritise I guess situational awareness. In hindsight, as soon as I saw them messing about in the road, I should have slowed way way down and increased my stopping capability. I guess once I’m a more experienced driver I will make better decisions like this. In future this will be my course of action, slow slow slow. Its hard not to “rubber neck” I guess.

This were one situation where C.O.A.S.T. didn’t help me, I was Concentrating on what was happening, Observing other cars, and what the drunks were doing, Awareness of where the cars were and where I could drive to avoid them, making sure I could allow Space for them fooling around and Time to react. What I didn’t do was check my speed often enough, I’m going to modify it to C.O.A.S.T.S. with the final S for Speed. I only noticed I *could* have been speeding because I had hit cruise control button at some point. When I had passed the hazard I checked my speed and it were set 4mph over the limit.  

At the time I was just like Oh My God, how drunk/high do you need to be to pushing each other into the road for a game while there are cars coming. If they walk just a few hundred meters up the same road they are on a 40 mph zone with energy saving in effect so no street lights, its pitch black. There are also road works so the road narrows too. I was debating phoning the police to make them aware, I haven’t heard of any accidents so hopefully they were ok. I keep debating now if I should phone and ask to settle my own mind.

Many Many Risks and Trickery

Speed Camera Consealed on A6 in Stockport

Plant & Forget Digital Speed Camera

Following on from the above its easy to accidentally accrue points, I have to drive through 3 traffic light cameras, 4 speed cameras, a few times per day. Which is 30 potential opportunities to get points every day just on my commute. The worse ones are traffic light cameras, when they are green all the way on approach on I have a little debate about speeding up, or slowing down to let them go red. Many times I have been going 30 mph, about 2-3 car lengths and they have turned Amber, if I have a car tailgating me, stopping is asking for a rear end, so I’ve had to carry on. A few times I’ve chosen to emergency stop, and once the lights actually turned red just as I passed them.

Out of nearly 200x I have had to go through traffic light cameras and/or speed cameras on my daily commute in the few month I’ve been driving, I have had 2 close calls, 1 of them very close. Once were when I had a car very close behind and the lights changed red. In hindsight I should really have stopped since it would have been their fault. I now try to slow down on approach in these circumstances so I can safely stop. 

I recently found out that Traffic Light Cameras can also Speed Cameras and can result in points, so speeding up to get through before they turn red, can be a major hazard. Which makes Traffic Light Speed Cameras all the more problematic. 

Concealed Cameras

Concealed Speed Camera

Concealed Speed Camera

Another situation is concealed cameras, the (right) image shows the speed camera concealed by a yellow sign at the bottom of a long steep hill. You don’t see the camera (Dubbed Stockport’s Scammera) until you are where the black car is, which has its brake lights on. The only way to see it from a safe breaking distance is where this Google image is taken from.

The image (above right), shows this camera is a new style digital speed camera, which means it never runs out of film, and is what they call “plant and forget”, operating 24/7. I assume plant is in relation to its eternal producing of fruit (money). This camera is between 2 steep inclines, directly at the bottom one, before, you go up another steep hill. Its ideally placed to get people who (1), allowed gravity to pick up speed, or (2), gained speed to make the lights, or (3), gaining speed for the upcoming hill. The fact its concealed is just a bonus for the police camera partnership.

There are various reports of this camera catching people for cutting the red light, and for speeding, many many many caught because they speeded up to make the lights before it changed red, and they assumed it were a traffic light camera. Its due to this camera, that I read about the fact traffic light cameras can be used to issue speeding tickets.  

62 Penalty Points 

In saying all the above potential traps, trickery and such hazards there is a driver in West Yorkshire which the BBC reported to have 62 Penalty Points on his license, the last 6 points given for Speeding just a few months ago (according to reports). Further more a driver in Oxfordshire has 51 Points, another in Essex has 42 Points, and one in Norfolk has 39 Points.

Where exactly does the “exceptional circumstance” come in here, how many times can you accidentally get points even  with the above examples. There must be a point where where Mr 62 Points has simply decided the rules don’t apply to him, he can speed, cut red lights, do as he bloody well pleases because the courts won’t take his license away. You only gets 6 points if you are significantly over the speed limit, not just a few miles over which can be an accident. I would really like to know exactly what he got and what his excuses are.

There are circumstances where you could accrue a few points, but surely there can’t be an excuse for getting 15-21 points per year, can there ? I estimate in my (at least) 2,000 Opportunities to accrue points, I have come really close once, which were extraordinary circumstances, and not normal at all. I also think a more experienced driver wouldn’t have made my mistake so where is the limit ?. 

Red Roadster picture by Pixabay, Speed Camera by Andrew Dunn, other images by Google Images. 

Coding Amazon Echo Skills for Alexa with C#

Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo

I was reading this months CODE Magazine and there is an article about coding new Skills for Amazon Echo and Echo Dot to extend Alexa’s functionality. When you think about how you could extend Alexa to fit into your life, it could be well worth adding C# into your life. Amazon Echo is currently on offer for Mothers Day, with a £15 discount, maybe the time to get one. 

Lets say you want to check if a domain is registered, you could say “Alexa ask NominetTool if steven.uk is registered ?” or Alexa ask NominetTool who steven.uk is Registered to ?”. I guess depending on how accurate Alexa turns out to be, you could even try “Alexa ask NominetTool to Register steven.co.uk”.

I don’t have an Echo or Echo Dot, nor do I code in C# but this article does make it seem like a fun reason to learn. Its been maybe 10 yrs or more since I last opened VC++, and probably longer than that since I last wrote any reasonable amount of code. Looking at C# it doesn’t look that difficult once the new syntax makes sense. If I can pick up a cheap Echo or Echo Dot, I may just delve in to this. 

Looking at the code sample they provided…

It looks quite simple to program, I guess you would use a PHP or C# web interface to execute the Recipes section, or in the example I gave to handle the domain name queries. Port the Whois Family Parser over to C# and you would be able to ask questions about whois result. 

Exciting times ahead. 

Gordon Tullocks Dagger or Tullocks Spike

I recently read an article about Google Patenting a Sticky Car coating in order to protect pedestrians when they are in an RTA (Road Traffic Accident). The idea is quite funny, basically when a pedestrian is hit by a car or other vehicle they will stick to the vehicle. Yeah like stuck to the bonnet rather than being thrown off or dragged under the vehicle.

I guess it makes sense that lots of injuries are caused after the initial impact but the idea of being stuck to the vehicle is terrifying especially if its a looney driver or criminal. Initially google planned this for self driving cars, which makes the lunatic driver scenario moot but still the idea is scary. 

Anyway this brought the memory of a guy called Gordon Tullock, who way way back when seat belts were becoming mandatory came up with the idea of Tullocks Spike or Tullocks Dagger as some call it. It were more a thought experiment, which I sometimes enjoy doing, but more later.

He questioned if dire consequences of driving were ever present would it make people safer drivers, his idea were a dirty great big spike or spikes on steering wheels to keep the mortal danger forefront of your mind. Currently, assuming the driver is wearing a seatbelt, their survival rate is actually really good and they are somewhat insulated from danger. Its not great for pedestrians, cyclists and similar who are hit by vehicles. 

Modern cars are very safe for the driver with impact absorbing steering columns, side impact bars, crumple zones, side airbags, leg air bags, pre-tensioner seat belts, anti-submarine seats, multiple front air bags, whiplash reducing seating systems, and the list goes on. For pedestrians and those outside the vehicles the protections are somewhat less, including softer bonnets, crumple zones and some other bits, but at speeds of 20mph+ the victims survival rates drop faster than a rock. 20mph is 95%, 30mph is 45% and 40mph is 5%, beyond 50mph you’ll need a miracle.   

Risk Compensation

Would you’re almost certain death, make you take less risks ? This is called Risk Compensation, an easy way to envision this is compare 2 scenarios.

First, lets say you’re walking through the jungle and you find yourself surrounded by little green lizards like Newts, you’re not going to be that careful as they are kinda toothless and not aggressive or a threat. Now suppose you’re walking along, only this time you’re surrounded by man-eating Nile crocodiles which weigh more than your car with huge teeth. Risk Compensation says the bigger risk, the more care you take, thus a big effing spike would make you a safer driver. 

Ferrari Steering Wheel image by Ali Naqi, modifications by Steven UK.

Ain’t Milk Brilliant

You know those totally futile conversations you have, usually after a few too many beers. Always totally nonsensical, pointless and absolute dribble, often right after watching the Happy Tree People or Sealabs. Well today in the gym, we were talking about Milk, the fact we’re the only animal which consumes the milk from another species. Which lead the conversation to why cow, goat and sheep milk, why not dog, cat, hamster or even rat milk ? 

The answer appears to be ease of obtaining the milk, there are many creatures whose milk is significantly better than Cow, Sheep and Goat, but they are harder to milk, harder to maintain or too costly. 

A friend of mine Kev were talking about keeping dairy animals, he tells me Cows are high maintenance, and prone to teat and milk duct problems, and needs lots to eat and vet care. Sheep giving wool are useful, and produce a sour milk and not large amounts. A goat on the other hand is very easy to look after, will literally eat anything and everything so goats are the best middle ground, but thats still the same 3 animals. 

Milk

Milk Droplets

Milk Droplets

There are various animals with vastly better milk, but produce smaller amounts and require more effort. For example Pigs milk, its very similar to cows milk in taste only more nutritious. Its so much better for example that there’s a farm in the Netherlands which sells Pig Milk Cheese for about £1,400 per KG. Compare this to the 40 yr Cow Chedder which sold for about £300 per KG.

However the simple act of milking a sow is much more labour intensive, difficult not to mention volume produced is massively lower. A cow can squirt milk for several minutes at a time, a sow is only several seconds, a cow has 4 large nipples a sow has a dozen smaller teats complicating it further. Its hard to milk a pig, and produces a small amount per pig hence the price. 

Anyway, I thought I’d see which is the best milk out there just for giggles. It turns out its the milk from a Cottontail Rabbit at 15% Protein, 8% Fat, and highly nutritious to boot is the best. Compared to Cow milk at 3.2% Fat and 3.3% Protein, you can see how much more the rabbit milk has. As to how Rabbit Milk tastes, that I can’t help you with, but I thought it was interesting.

Just an interesting fact, the hooded seal and other extremely cold weather mammals produce milk with up to 60% Fat, where are Hippos for example are only not even 0.2% fat. 

Rabbit Picture by Pixabay,Milk Droplets picture by Tookapic

Unavailable Until Further Notice

20th March 2017 – Update

I’m going to start working through the backlog, catch up on forums, hit emails, etc. The breakthrough pain is still brutal but I need to get back on it. 

I’ll update more once I get some notes and stuff from the quack. 

17th March 2017 – Update

I had my follow up today. I have a more complete list of what they did, still a few unclear bits. It seems lots of this were “discovered” during the process so they fixed it “while they were there”. 

My shoulder socket were in a bit of a mess, lots of debris and osteophytes on the socket part. The ball part of he shoulder were in reasonably good condition, which is apparently a good thing. I’m not quite sure how the socket side can be ruined by the ball is fine.

The GHJ had some osteophytes removed and a “slither” of bone cut away. The AC Joint were removed, which is part of the scapula and collarbone cut away. I think they did something to the Bursa under the AC, but I didn’t understand what they meant. 

They did a subacromial decompression, but the ligament were apparently in good condition so they shaved it, sectioned it. Some other ligament were also cleaned up, one which is deep inside my shoulder. 

I really need to speak to the surgeon but I don’t have an appointment for ages, its all physio and shoulder clinic. I have requested a copy of the surgical notes so I can see it all and work out from there. 

8th March 2017 – Update

Well I’m still here, the pain isn’t even close to what I’m dealing with now. The muscle pain, cuts/scars aren’t too bad, I can touch them and they are tender but not bad. However where they have cut the bone away, holy poopy, that really hurts and the drugs don’t help much. 

I don’t have an exact list of what they did, the operation notes were like nearly a whole page and I didn’t understand all of them. The rotator cuff were fine, the shoulder capsule were fine, the GHJ (I assume glenohumeral joint) were arthritic and repaired, the AC Joint were re-sectioned (removed), and a Subacromial Decompression were performed. I can’t remember what else were there, I only got a brief look while the pain clinic were sorting my drugs out.

Finally Here

Well its finally here, I’m getting my shoulder surgery done, as a result I won’t be online much and I get the feeling the times I will be, I’ll probably be dribbling from the pain medications. 

I’ll try to keep on top of urgent messages, but mobile signal is shocking and half the hospital doesn’t have WiFi, so I can’t promise anything. 

I’ll see you on the flip side 🙂

p.s. There are a few queued up posts which I already wrote, which may post after my surgery.

Mobile Phone Use While Driving Gets You 6 Points from Today

Driver using Mobile Phone

Driver using Mobile Phone

I’m a day late I know, but I’ve been a busy bee with surgery issues and winding up business for my down time. The law came into force on Wednesday 1st March 2017. From Wednesday, using your mobile phone while driving, means 1 text can get you 6 points and a £200 fine on the spot, scrolling your music, making calls etc will all get you 6 points and £200 fine. It used to be £100 and 3 points with an optional retraining scheme. 

Its bad for experienced drivers who are allowed up to 12 points within any 3 year period before you receive a ban, but its even worse for new drivers like myself, if you get 6 points in the first 2 yrs then you lose your license.

The mobile phone retraining scheme where you could choose to a do a safety course instead of the points has been withdrawn, so its points, points or points oh and a fine. I’m not sure the seatbelt and speed awareness course are still running or not. Best to drive on the assumption that Tullocks Going to Get Ya. 

This legislation were brought in after Polish Driver Tomasz Kroker killed 4 members of the same familey while he were playing with his mobile phone. From memory he claimed he weren’t using his phone but instead were scrolling through his musical playlist. 

Police Crack Down

Police Crack Down Barrier

Police Crack Down Barrier

The police are reportedly doing 7 day crack downs, the first of which runs from 1st-7th March 2017, with another rumoured to start 22nd March 2017, a similar week long crack down in February 2017 resulted in over 3600 motorists given points, a fine or retraining scheme. With the scheme now withdrawn and the points doubled and fine increased, there is a world of pain heading to 1000s of motorists in March. 

According to government figures there about 2 dozen people killed per year and 100 seriously injured my motorists using their phones every year. A survey I saw reported that about half of young drivers think its acceptable to use their phone for short calls or quick texts. With many young people unable to stand switching their mobile phones off, its a recipe for disaster. 

Insurance Punishment

I phoned my insurance just for giggles (and fuck yeah I lied about who I was) and asked them how much it would increase my premium if I were banned within 2 years of passing. It really would be pointless me driving, it nearly tripled the premium. With a clean license having been driving 6 months the quote on a 1.4T Astra SRI were £1,200. Now add 3 points and the premium shoots to £1,800, next add a ban (non drink driving) raised the premium to £3,500. A driving driving ban they said they wouldn’t insure me.

They also pointed out that mobile phone use penalties are a CU80 Penalty and put you at more of risk than someone who were 5mph over the speed limit. Given there are reasons you could be caught speeding, but there is no excuse for using your phone, so your wallet will get more abuse for such a penalty. The official figured being bandied about suggest a CU80 will get you 30% insurance increase, which is quite close what I were told. 

Mobile Phone using Driver image by Breakingpic and Police Car image by Unsplash.

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