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Police : Here to help or to raise revenues?
January 2, 2006 1:56 PM   Subscribe

The police in the UK recently fined a woman who was lost on one of our main motorways. Spotting a police car on the hard shoulder, she parked up behind it and asked for directions. They helped - and fined her £30 ($50) and endorsed her driving license for illegal use of the hard shoulder. (In the UK, it's for emergencies only)

The police here also use significant numbers of speed cameras to spot and fine drivers, with the some money going to the police. Is that right? Shouldn't the police just enforce the law not directly benefit from those that break it? If they benefit directly, doesn't it immediately question their integrity?
posted by jonthegeologist (77 comments total)

 
No, yes, yes.

Next time, keep the commentary out of the FPP.
posted by Kwantsar at 1:59 PM on January 2, 2006


I can't remember... Do police suck big sweaty donkey balls, or do police suck your greasy granny's wrinkled earlobes?
posted by Balisong at 2:03 PM on January 2, 2006


define "with the some money going to the police" and "directly benefit"

it doesn't go into their xmas bonus fund or anything.

it gets ploughed back into funding the cameras, and other road safety awareness schemes. I would much rather fines pay for it, than my tax money.
posted by toffee at 2:03 PM on January 2, 2006


She was clearly doing something wrong. Stopping on a motorway doesn't just endanger her life, but the life of drivers of dozens of cars behind her. All it takes is one idiot to think he needs to swerve to avoid her, and there's a pile-up. Darn right she should be fined. The proper way to do it would be to exit the motorway and find the nearest petrol station.
posted by blue_beetle at 2:07 PM on January 2, 2006


It seems a little silly for a policeman to fine someone who stopped to ask for directions -- especially given that she apparently introduced no additional hazard on the hard shoulder, since said policeman was already parked there. Then again the UK does seem to have some peculiar laws regarding the use of a hard shoulder.
posted by clevershark at 2:07 PM on January 2, 2006


toffee - some police authorities do pay bonuses based on speeding tickets (from cameras) issued. Sadly.
posted by jonthegeologist at 2:07 PM on January 2, 2006


She was clearly doing something wrong. Stopping on a motorway doesn't just endanger her life, but the life of drivers of dozens of cars behind her.

Actually she stopped on the hard shoulder, not the carriageway itself.
posted by clevershark at 2:08 PM on January 2, 2006


Good. She should have been fined. That was not an emergency by any sane definition of the term. People need to understand that it's dangerous to stop on the shoulder and you do not do it unless you're really screwed.
posted by Decani at 2:10 PM on January 2, 2006


I feel a mushroom coming on.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 2:16 PM on January 2, 2006


I went to Cornell University. My all-time favorite Cornell-related statistic is this:

Fines from parking violations, speeding tickets, and other traffic offenses paid to the Cornell Police are the THIRD largest contributing line item to the Cornell budget. Fines are behind only the endowment and tuition in terms of income generation for the school.

Somehow I doubt Cornell is unique in this regard. Should police be financing themselves through measured enforcement quotas ("If you guys want your overtime checks this week, better go bust some speeders," etc.)? No. Does it happen? Yup.
posted by ChasFile at 2:18 PM on January 2, 2006


It's PC gone mad.
posted by the cuban at 2:22 PM on January 2, 2006


jon - "some police authorities do pay bonuses based on speeding tickets (from cameras) issued. Sadly."

bonuses to who? the cameras? the police force as a whole? are you saying the more tickets an individual officer issues gets him more money? any evidence/links to back up these claims?
posted by toffee at 2:25 PM on January 2, 2006


the cuban writes " It's PC gone mad."

Damn activist judges!
posted by mr_roboto at 2:29 PM on January 2, 2006


What a tool. If you get lost on a motorway, leave at the next exit and find a safe place to ask for directions... don't stop on the fucking hard shoulder.

I bet if there'd been no police cars nearby she would have been reversing back up the carriageway like you see all the time on "Crash, Bang, Wallop, What a video!"

Muppet.
posted by derbs at 2:32 PM on January 2, 2006


I have the same problem with Police Departments being able to 'seize' things of value that might have something to do with drugs. There has been much abuse of this law.
posted by UseyurBrain at 2:36 PM on January 2, 2006


Somehow I doubt Cornell is unique in this regard. Should police be financing themselves through measured enforcement quotas ("If you guys want your overtime checks this week, better go bust some speeders," etc.)? No. Does it happen? Yup.

Man, those Cornell people should really stick it to the University and start following the rules!

Seriously, people who complain that police/cities/universties/whatever make too much money by fining people who violate the law need to realize that all those people being fined have the choice to avoid the fines by obeying the law.
posted by duck at 2:49 PM on January 2, 2006


jesus freaking christ.... people break the law, people get fined/arrested...

WTF is the complaint?

methinks jonthegeologist (wonder what he does for a living?) got a ticket recently!
posted by HuronBob at 3:03 PM on January 2, 2006


So, duck, any fine amount is okay so long as those fined have had an opportunity to not break the law? And where the fine money goes makes no difference whatsoever?

Governments love tools who think like that.
posted by squirrel at 3:08 PM on January 2, 2006


HB: it seems to be a whole subculture here in the UK where people (who tend to have powerful cars and drive like total twats) all complain about speed cameras. they usually try to prove that these cameras actually CAUSE more accidents, like most of em give two hoots about safety. these same people write off around two cars a year. i work with these fools.
posted by toffee at 3:08 PM on January 2, 2006


Seriously, people who complain that police/cities/universties/whatever make too much money by fining people who violate the law need to realize that all those people being fined have the choice to avoid the fines by obeying the law.

There are at least two larger issues, here. First is that working fines into the planned budget through the use of enforcement quotas, etc. committs large portions of the police force to enforcement when they might be needed elsewhere. While it may be unlikely, its not difficult to imagine Police Departments diverting officers from patrol and response to traffic enforcement in order to make up for budget shortfalls. Now everyone in those patrol areas is less safe because the police are financing themselves with fines. That's not the coolest thing in the world.

Second, of course, is the moral issue the poster originally brought up: should the police be in the business of perpetuating their own power through enforcement? Should they monetarily benefit from enforcing laws? Isn't that just extortion, then? Shouldn't they be doing it out of a concern for justice and public order rather than simply lining their pockets? Obviously that's a grossly simplified response to your grossly simplified criticism, but I mean to merely raise the issue.

This issue, like most social issues, is alot more complicated than a simple "they have the choice not to do x." Especially when you consider issues of how and where police typically do enforcement (viz. DWB - Driving While Black), things quickly get mucky.
posted by ChasFile at 3:09 PM on January 2, 2006


You couldn't make it up

posted by fire&wings at 3:12 PM on January 2, 2006


I have lived in both the US and the UK. British people, please be thankful that you have such patient, pleasant cops. I'm dumbfounded, actually-- British cops (especially the small-town ones) put up with so much shit that would get you batonned or worse in the US that I can't imagine condemning them. Sure, they're bullies and they're dumber than the average person. But not by as wide a margin as here.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:13 PM on January 2, 2006


40 years ago in the UK most people never had a face to face encounter with a policeman, and they were held in great respect as a result. The inevitable (and necessary) criminalising of traffic offences created an environment in which the majority of adult citizens now had encounters with the Police in which they gained criminal records and so respect deteriorated. And so it goes...
posted by A189Nut at 3:14 PM on January 2, 2006


So, duck, any fine amount is okay so long as those fined have had an opportunity to not break the law? And where the fine money goes makes no difference whatsoever?

It's not like we're talking about fines for protesting outside of a "free speech zone". These are fines for doing things that are unnecessary and dangerous. As for the money going directly to the police, it's a little strange, but I don't have any huge problem with it. Again, if people feel like it makes the police too powerful, they could easily foil the evil plot by following the rules of the road and parking where parking is allowed.

If we were talking about police inventing offences, or enforcing selectively (i.e. BWB whch Chasfile mentions), of course I have a problem with that. But there's no indication that that's what's going on.

So yes, red-light cameras, rader, photo-rader, and just plain-old "I noticed you could have stopped for that guy who wanted to cross the road, but you didn't. Here's your ticket." bring it all on.
posted by duck at 3:15 PM on January 2, 2006


The first rule of driving on a UK motorway is, don't piss off the police.

The second rule of driving on a UK motorway is, you forget the first rule at your peril.

For stupidity of the magnitude required to pull up behind a police car on the hard shoulder of a motorway and ask for directions, she should be made to watch her car being dropped into a crusher. Then she should be made to press the 'crush' button.
posted by veedubya at 3:20 PM on January 2, 2006


Yes to all three questions!!! I don't see how the first question is necessarily related to the other two.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:26 PM on January 2, 2006


"Sure, they're bullies and they're dumber than the average person."

geez, curley, what a idiotic sweeping generalization...That contributed to the conversation how?

I hope the next time you need a little help the local cop is too stupid to find you!
posted by HuronBob at 3:28 PM on January 2, 2006


As for the money going directly to the police, it's a little strange, but I don't have any huge problem with it. Again, if people feel like it makes the police too powerful, they could easily foil the evil plot by following the rules of the road

Really, though, isn't it damn near impossible to completely follow the rules of the road? To drive at or under the speed limit when every other car is doing seven over? To signal exactly 100 feet before the intersection? Perverse incentives create all kinds of bad results.
posted by Kwantsar at 3:28 PM on January 2, 2006


Really, though, isn't it damn near impossible to completely follow the rules of the road? To drive at or under the speed limit when every other car is doing seven over? To signal exactly 100 feet before the intersection? Perverse incentives create all kinds of bad results.

Let's start worrying about that when someone gets a ticket for signallying 105 feet or 95 feet from the intersection. For now I'm sure the cops can finance their plots by ticketing the people who don't signal at all.
posted by duck at 3:34 PM on January 2, 2006


First is that working fines into the planned budget through the use of enforcement quotas, etc. committs large portions of the police force to enforcement when they might be needed elsewhere.

I'm with you on this because we are all more likely to be raped and murdered than be killed in a car accident. Oh wait....
posted by srboisvert at 3:38 PM on January 2, 2006


toffee - some police authorities do pay bonuses based on speeding tickets (from cameras) issued. Sadly.
posted by jonthegeologist at 10:07 PM GMT on January 2


I'd like to see a cite on that. Seems just like the urban myth that UK driving examiners have a set quota of passes per day, and no matter how immaculate your driving, you won't pass at 4:30pm on the last friday of the month. I just do not believe that.
posted by dash_slot- at 3:40 PM on January 2, 2006


dash_slot. of course its rubbish. just like the "police get to keep the fines", they dont. a simple google search will tell you what happens to the fines in the UK (local "partnerships" get to cover costs of cameras and other enforcement/education/etc but not to "profit" from it, all surplus goes back to the treasury), but it doesn't quite have the same ring to it.

Where does the money from speed cameras go?
Neither the police nor local councils make any money from speeding fines. They can only claim back their running and administration costs for the scheme, and any surplus goes to the Treasury.

posted by toffee at 3:47 PM on January 2, 2006


So , uh , you're a geologist , huh ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:47 PM on January 2, 2006


whoops. sorry about that. i meant to link to THIS

Where does the money from speed cameras go?
Neither the police nor local councils make any money from speeding fines. They can only claim back their running and administration costs for the scheme, and any surplus goes to the Treasury.

posted by toffee at 3:49 PM on January 2, 2006


I never knew the Brits were so protective of their hard shoulder. My goodness.

Would it have been okay if she pulled over in front of the police cruiser instead of behind it?

The cruiser already had that portion of the shoulder "blocked" and therefore unusable. Adding another car in front of the cruiser would not have suddenly contributed to a massive threat on (off) the roadway.

Is this not what occurs when a car is "pulled over" in the UK? Does this not occur at least several times per hour?

I'm truly not understanding why this was such an egregious violation. It also shows a policeman who does not understand his job. The article says "They have discretion to enforce legislation as appropriate." This certainly seems like a situation that could have benefited from some discretion.

Put another way, if pulling over on the shoulder in the UK is considered a fantastic offense, then surely the woman would have been aware of this, and to be willing to do this to seek assistance from a policeman must display some level of helplessness, yes?

I feel like I'm missing some part of this.
posted by Ynoxas at 3:49 PM on January 2, 2006


whoops. sorry about that. i meant to link to posted by toffee at 5:49 PM CST on January 2 [!]

Heh.
posted by Ynoxas at 3:50 PM on January 2, 2006


it would appear I am a fule. sorry bout dat. dunno whats up with my linking attempts.

http://www.direct.gov.uk/TravelAndTransport/TrafficManagement/TrafficManagementArticles/fs/en?CONTENT_ID=10025598&chk=ndi8sL

Where does the money from speed cameras go?
Neither the police nor local councils make any money from speeding fines. They can only claim back their running and administration costs for the scheme, and any surplus goes to the Treasury.
posted by toffee at 3:51 PM on January 2, 2006


aha. "link". penny drops. move along. nothing to see here.
posted by toffee at 3:52 PM on January 2, 2006


duck: Seriously, people who complain that police/cities/universties/whatever make too much money by fining people who violate the law need to realize that all those people being fined have the choice to avoid the fines by obeying the law.

Right, but "the law" is not a magically objective structure which is equally available to all. It's a social process.

Many traffic laws include exemptions based on environmental conditions, and it's very easy for a police officer, under pressure from city government to help resolve the budget problems via ticket revenue, to interpret the law in whatever way necessary to write a ticket. The onus is then on the driver to either pay up or defend themselves in a Kafka-esque traffic court where the officer is treated as an expert witness in the interpretation of traffic law.

Providing police officers (who are, in the US at least, given near-carte blanche) with an economic incentive to punish citizens where it's convenient rather than important is problematic social policy. I'd rather the police act in issues where safety is a concern and not have them be directly involved in the economics of city government.
posted by Coda at 3:55 PM on January 2, 2006


I can't find a horror story for improper signalling, duck, but "lorry driver Charles Minn was stunned to receive a £60 fixed penalty and three points on his driving licence after being flashed by a speed camera doing 31mph in a 30mph zone."
posted by Kwantsar at 4:05 PM on January 2, 2006


From that link:
Mr Minn, 54, denies even breaking the limit as he drove his ten-ton lorry along the A10 Tottenham High Road in North London. He says the vehicle's tachograph – which by law must be fitted to record his driving – showed he was doing only 28mph ... ... Last night, after being contacted by the Daily Mail, the London Safety Camera Partnership, which operates speed cameras on behalf of the Metropolitan Police, agreed to cancel the ticket.
Hmm. The ticket was dismissed. I wonder if they'd have bothered if it had been a motorist who didn't have a tachograph to back him/her up...

My office's car park annoys me. It has a 5mph limit. But my car's speedo starts at 10mph. Even at a slow crawl, according to my speedo I'm just below 10mph :)
posted by kaemaril at 4:19 PM on January 2, 2006


You can get arrested for anything in the UK now anyway
posted by A189Nut at 4:30 PM on January 2, 2006


First of all, it's been shown that red-light cameras (as opposed to speed cams) do increase the number of accidents. Accidents that could be avoided by increasing the yellow-time at that particular incident for far less money.

In some cases, intersections with red-light cameras have had their yellow-light time decreased on purpose, causing even more accidents (and tickets).
posted by Paris Hilton at 4:46 PM on January 2, 2006


I haven't read the FPP link, but let me ask a question for somebody in the know: Were the police required to cite her? That's sometimes the case. That's happened to me in some circumstances; in others, the law-enforcement person in question had some room for discretion and gave me the benefit of the doubt. IOW, I'm carefully preventing my knee from jerking.
posted by alumshubby at 4:46 PM on January 2, 2006


While it may be unlikely, its not difficult to imagine Police Departments diverting officers from patrol and response to traffic enforcement in order to make up for budget shortfalls.
It's not difficult to imagine many things, but is there any evidence that this really occurs? I've been stopped for speeding by an officer who got a call on his radio and left -- in the middle of writing me a ticket -- because something "more important" came up. He chuckled, said it was my lucky day, and drove off to tend to other business.

To me, that indicates that police officers in at least some areas watch traffic while things are slow, write tickets, and generally remain available for more important developments.

It may not be that way everywhere, but I'd like to see some reliable numbers before we assume that traffic enforcement "diverts" officers from other matters.
posted by verb at 4:51 PM on January 2, 2006


"The officers of the Central Motorway Police Group are directed to ensure that the safety of the travelling public is maintained.

"They have discretion to enforce legislation as appropriate."

The Police chose to fine her, pour encourager les autres.
posted by dash_slot- at 4:58 PM on January 2, 2006


If only they were all still Freemasons... Oh for "Can we square this away Officer?" "That's on the level Officer" and other such phrases of the past.
posted by A189Nut at 5:05 PM on January 2, 2006


While it may be unlikely, its not difficult to imagine Police Departments diverting officers from patrol and response to traffic enforcement in order to make up for budget shortfalls.

In the UK policemen who patrol the motorways are there for that specific function, they are part of the traffic division and this is their primary function. They do not get pulled off crime-fighting detail to go fine some poor Jeremy Clarkson wannabe.
posted by fullerine at 5:16 PM on January 2, 2006


Here's my ultimate problem with this situation:

Is pulling onto the shoulder dangerous? If so, then it is dangerous, no matter what car is doing it. So what right does a police vehicle have to be there in a non-emergency?

It is a logical assumption that a police vehicle will not commit an illegal traffic maneuver unless necessary to rightfully pursue a lawbreaker. So since the police car was there, it was also a logical assumption that it was legal to stop there.
posted by parliboy at 5:23 PM on January 2, 2006


I'm hardly the most law and order upright citizen, but stopping on the freeway to ask for directions is a bit absurd, isn't it?
posted by majick at 5:31 PM on January 2, 2006


Sell your car. I did when I was paying more for parking tickets in a month than I was for gas. No fines, no insurance, no repairs, no moving the car before 7am so that the snow plow can forget to clean my street. And when I do need a car, communauto takes car of it.
posted by furtive at 5:40 PM on January 2, 2006


It'd be nice to have better public transportation and avoid all this.
posted by Smedleyman at 6:05 PM on January 2, 2006


I once had a policeman pull me over and then ticket me for not signaling when he pulled me over.
Nice.
posted by signal at 6:05 PM on January 2, 2006


geez, curley, what a idiotic sweeping generalization...That contributed to the conversation how?

I'm just pointing out that you don't become a cop because you were only third on your high school class. Not a future geologist.

(although this being the Internet, some faker is about to post a comment saying that s/he is a Rhodes scholar and could have been a joint chief of staff but elected to be a small town cop instead.)
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:07 PM on January 2, 2006


although this being the Internet, some faker is about to post a comment saying that s/he is a Rhodes scholar and could have been a joint chief of staff but elected to be a small town cop instead.

On the internet everybody's an exception to the rule.
posted by clevershark at 6:15 PM on January 2, 2006


the irony being that if a semi had plowed into her car at 70 mph and killed her, we wouldn't be reading about it, would we?

i had a blowout on the freeway a few years ago with my 4 year old daughter in the back seat ... i wasn't about to stop the damn car on the shoulder and wait for someone to rescue us ... i drove it down the shoulder to an exit a mile away and got out of there

lost? ... big deal ... she should have just picked an exit and asked someone at a gas station

what she did was dumb
posted by pyramid termite at 6:37 PM on January 2, 2006


signal : sounds like entrapment! :)
posted by kaemaril at 7:03 PM on January 2, 2006


Was the woman being foolish by stopping on a motorway to ask for directions instead of pulling off at the nearest exit?

Yes.

Was it dangerous?

Yes.

Could the policeman have been a little less of a hard-ass, given her directions and then a little lecture that stopping on the shoulder is for emergencies only, and not to ask for directions, and that she could be fined?

Yes.

It was a dumb thing to do on the woman's part, but also a dick move on the officer's. The police exist to protect civilians, and yes, enforce the law, but I think in this case, a warning would have sufficed for her transgression.
posted by Meredith at 7:13 PM on January 2, 2006


Fines are behind only the endowment and tuition in terms of income generation for the school.

I'd just like to point out that while this sounds incredible at first read, I can't think of anything else that generates large amounts of income for a college. I mean, yes, it's third after tuition and endowment, but how far back is it? If revenue from selling event tickets was fourth, (just a guess) this suddenly becomes not-so-shocking.

Also, I'm with Ynoxas on the utter bewilderment of all of this. Here I thought Brits were a generally easy-going, peaceful lot, and suddenly they turn into Nazis when it comes to rules of the motorway. Which is funny in a way, seeing as how the Germans are remarkably un-totalitarian with their driving laws.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:22 PM on January 2, 2006


I'd just like to point out that while this sounds incredible at first read, I can't think of anything else that generates large amounts of income for a college.

Grants. Land ownership (renting/leasing, though I suppose this may count as endowment), alumni donations, returns on patents.

a warning would have sufficed for her transgression.

She did get a warning. Back when she applied to get a licence, before taking the written test she no doubt read the driver's handbook relevant for her area. In that book it will have stated that you can't just pull over on the shoulder unless it's an emergency. It will also have stated that if you do things you're not allowed to do, you will get a ticket. That was the warning.

A thought (not intended for real implementation, just a thought): Maybe when people who do illegal things make a claim that amounts to ignorance ("I didn't know I wasn't supposed to pull over onto the shoulder for directions." "I thought yellow meant 'proceed with caution.'" "Well not a *full* stop, but I slowed down a lot to make sure no cars were coming and I thought that was good enough if it's a deserted area."), then they should lose their licenses temporarily. The logic being that one of the requirements to have a licence should be knowing the rules of the road. If you're admitting you don't know them, then you should lose your licence until such time as you can pass the written and practical licencing test, again.

(And no, I don't think I could pass the written or practical test at this point, either. Like everyone else, I have bad habits (e.g. I often forget to check my blind spot on the right before making a right turn, and when I reach a stop sign I often stop far enough forward so I can see, rather than stopping behind the sidewalk edge and then rolling forward for the view.) But if I got ticketed for those things, I'd suck it up and pay the ticket, and hopefully make an effort to be better about them in the future.
posted by duck at 8:35 PM on January 2, 2006


Saying that people could have chosen not to break the law if they wanted to stop a group from making a profit off their misdeeds is a fair point technically, but it escapes the actual issue. It is like suggesting that the solution to global warming is that we all go out and buy a hybrid tomorrow, or that next Thursday we should only eat ham sandwiches all day.

The problem is that the system is designed not to protect and serve, but to generate a profit. If tomorrow everybody started driving the speed limit, what would happen would never be the defeat of totalitarian laws and the ushering in of an idyllic age of perfection. What would happen is that they'd make a new law. They'd lower the speed limit a little more, or make it illegal to have a car without a special blue stripe on it that only they will sell, or something else until they generate the profit.

They've got actuaries and mathematicians at work on this, I guarantee, and if there was the slightest possibility that speeding income was unreliable, the slightest possibility that tomorrow people would stop speeding or swearing or spitting in public, or whatever is in the crosshairs for these people, they would move to something more reliable.

I don't want to defend shoulder lady she was being unsafe, but I have experienced the university issues firsthand, and let me tell you, if you create a system where there are 5 (legal) parking spaces per every 10 students, you are going to have people parking illegally. They create a situation that is inherently unsafe, and put a police force out there not to maintain safety, but to harvest the profits off their little parking farm. (Before the ad hominem starts, let me say that I walked to class and therefore never got a ticket myself, but I saw the students' cars cluttering all the roads and all the streets and half the time all the curbs enough to see what was going on.)

We shouldn't forget, laws can be stupid. They can be for every other reason under the sun except protecting the populace.

And this is my final opinion. Breaking a law does not mean you deserve the punishment associated with that law. It means you should expect it, it means you should consider your actions because the vast majority of even the stupid laws shouldn't be broken out of respect for society. But to claim that you Deserve punishment for breaking the law is to equate the law with a moral/ethical code and that is something that is in my opinion very close to totalitarianism. I might be crazy though.
posted by SomeOneElse at 8:54 PM on January 2, 2006


Could the policeman have been a little less of a hard-ass, given her directions and then a little lecture that stopping on the shoulder is for emergencies only, and not to ask for directions, and that she could be fined?

I wouldn't be surprised if that's what happened and the fine was only issued when she got angry. The BBC article doesn't really say.
posted by cillit bang at 9:12 PM on January 2, 2006


Grants... [lots of other good examples] ...returns on patents.

Oh yeah. Well then, I redact my blase attitude and substitute in its place a hearty "Wow!"
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:21 PM on January 2, 2006


Bear in mind the M6 near Birmingham has the notoriously confusing Spaghetti Junction.

posted by TheophileEscargot at 11:34 PM on January 2, 2006



I yam a good driver.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 11:39 PM on January 2, 2006


how half-baked can you get?
posted by Stars Kitten at 3:16 AM on January 3, 2006


She endangered the police officers in that car and all people who were driving by as she negotiated her maneuver. Fine her to remind her that, barring mechanical failure, it is never OK to pull over to the side of a busy motorway, even if the cops are doing it.

And her fine (all fines) should go to charity (but not to the Policemen's Widows & Orphans Fund).
posted by pracowity at 3:33 AM on January 3, 2006


I can't figure out which one of them is the bigger wanker.
posted by Acey at 4:08 AM on January 3, 2006


How directly do they benefit? I doubt the £30 goes straight in the pocket of the policeman.

I look forward to reading your next editorial in the Torygraph.
posted by Blip at 4:10 AM on January 3, 2006


Not sure I care much for the inference you're making Blip.

I believe that the police were spot on in fining this woman. However minor the offence seems, she broke the law and deserved the fine and the endorsements.

The police are entitled to claim (from the fine) the administrative charges with the rest going to the UK treasury. In essence, then, there is an incentive for the police to fine those that break the law.

I also agree that we all have a choice - don't break the law and get no fines, break the law and run the risk.

My concern is that given the police *do* benefit directly from the income from fines, do they fine when a simple ticking off would suffice? I think they do.

Have I received a fine recently? No HuronBob, this geologist as a clean license.
posted by jonthegeologist at 7:04 AM on January 3, 2006


Incidentally, there is no specific regulation in the highway code that bans stopping on the hard shoulder. It's under rule 244:

244: You MUST NOT stop on the carriageway, hard shoulder, slip road, central reservation or verge except in an emergency, or when told to do so by the police, an emergency sign or by flashing red light signals.

The "MUST NOT" bit in the highway code signifies that this is a regulation covered by legislation.

However, just to comment on this bit :

I also agree that we all have a choice - don't break the law and get no fines, break the law and run the risk.

Not so easy, as the story of Mr. Minn mentioned above in kwantsar's link demonstrates.
posted by kaemaril at 9:48 AM on January 3, 2006


Ynoxas writes "The cruiser already had that portion of the shoulder 'blocked' and therefore unusable. Adding another car in front of the cruiser would not have suddenly contributed to a massive threat on (off) the roadway."

Her stopping means one addtional merge and exit where people aren't expecting that behaviour. The shoulder of a freeway is an insanely dangerous spot. Heck we had an officer hit by a car while in the ditch next to the road this weekend. Some winner didn't notice all the flashing lights until it was too late and then swerved into the ditch to avoid hitting the cruiser and ended up hitting the cop.

Nothing quite gave me the hebbie jebbies when swamping on a tow truck as having to stretch a cable across a supposedly closed freeway to make an extraction. A 5/8" cable stretched tight between a 20 tonne winch and a 3/4 ton pickup buried frame deep in the mud will take the roof right off a 4 door sedan travelling at 110 no problem at all.

The fine is just as much about protecting her from herself as it is from other people.
posted by Mitheral at 10:29 AM on January 3, 2006


By we I mean the residents of the City of Calgary, I'm not a cop or anything.
posted by Mitheral at 10:30 AM on January 3, 2006


The no-stopping-on-the-hard-shoulder rule is valid (and strictly enforced) all over Europe, not just in Britain. And it makes a lot of sense with motorway traffic going 120 km/h (72 mph).

What this woman did was particularly stupid because, by stopping her car right behind another one, she didn't leave herself enough space to reaccelerate again before rejoining the flow of traffic (unless the police people left first, which they may have been unwilling or unable to do for a number of reasons). In Europe (including Britain, I presume), there is a minimum speed limit of 70 km/h (42 mph) on motorways, for a good reason...
posted by Skeptic at 12:40 PM on January 3, 2006


Man, if that's a confusing junction for you people, never move to LA.
posted by dame at 1:39 PM on January 3, 2006


Skeptic : Nope, no minimum speed limit on a UK motorway.

Also, motorway traffic going at 72mph? No sir! Why, the maximum speed limit on a motorway is 70mph and nobody would break that rule :)
posted by kaemaril at 4:21 PM on January 3, 2006


Cops enforce the law shocker!
Today a woman broke the law, and a policeman penalised her. It seems motoring laws - which as well as being examinable for a driving licence are also published in a "dumbed down" version for complete tools to understand - are apparently enforceable by police officers. "I was just doing my job" said PC Plod after doing his job, before adding "Move along now, nothing to see here".
posted by magpie68 at 5:32 AM on January 4, 2006


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