Earlier in the week I was lucky enough to attend a speed awareness course having being flashed by a speed camera at ‘very early o’clock’ on my way to Piccadilly station a few weeks ago! 35mph in a 30 going through a green light, most people would potentially consider that bad luck, but I say lucky and I mean it!

Firstly I was lucky that I was offered the opportunity of attending the course rather than a £100 fine and 3 points – so from a current and future financial position I was lucky!

Secondly I was lucky because it was only a speed camera and not some child that had stepped out in front of me; a lapse in concentration had not left some family devastated and I wasn’t faced with the endless guilt of injuring or even worse killing someone.

Thirdly I was being given the opportunity to step back, think, reflect and learn a bit more about my habits and the way I was living my life. What a gift!

Now I am sure that many of you reading this will also have been on a speed awareness course and know exactly what I turned up to at 17.30 the other evening. A slightly dodgy training facility that had seen better days, a collection of c30 people of all ages and from all walks of life and 2 trainers that had stepped off the set of ‘Z Cars meets The Two Ronnies’.  To be fair – at 17.30 on a Monday evening my attention and focus was not quite as positive as I have indicated in the opening paragraphs of this blog – I had an assumption of what was coming, was hungry and wanted to get through it and out the other side.  As someone who stands up in front of groups of people training and facilitating for a living I had a strong degree of empathy for the two trainers who stood before us! Nobody wanted to be there and nobody felt they had anything to learn. Tough gig!! 🙂

How wrong we were – which is why I quickly (during the start of the session) re-framed the experience and changed the way I felt about it. I have written before about taking personal accountability and this sits at the heart of the lessons and provocations that the trainers were focussed on landing.  I had taken absolute accountability for my actions in breaking the speed limit – I had moved on very quickly after the flashing camera to accepting and engaging with my \"30mph\"culpability. Nobody else had made me drive on that road at that time, I knew the camera was there, I knew the speed limit – so nobody else was to blame for my lapse in concentration other than me.  This was unlike the chap on my right – he moaned the whole way through and was quick to point out on numerous occasions that 56mph in a 50 at 01.30 with nothing on the road was unfair!  🙂

I won\’t bore you with the details of the course and hope that you all get the chance to attend one; I seriously believe that every driver would benefit from a refresher, I drive over 25,000 miles a year and see some pretty appalling driving. Having taken my motorbike test a couple of years ago I am a better driver than I was before – a refresher on laws, limits and good habits was an absolute benefit.  ‘Clearly it wasn’t that beneficial Rich as you got caught speeding’ I hear the cynical in the audience shout out J – indeed, but that’s because I am human and we seem to be conditioned to lapse into bad habits if we don’t proactively replace them with good ones.

This is the first insight / learning I would like to share; driving is one of the most habitual activities we engage in – we have become unconsciously competent and rarely think about anything associated with driving – we trust and rely on a habitual routine to keep us (and other people safe). What I learned is that is not good enough, you know how quickly our diet, exercise, health habits are devalued, driving is no different. We constantly need to reflect on our habits to ensure that they are still adding value, helping us and contributing to our success.

My second insight was about looking around you rather than just straight ahead of you – whilst driving, danger rarely comes from the front, it is normally from the sides. Of course you need to look where you are going, but we look and rarely see.  We did a fantastic exercise, watching a video as if we were in a car driving down the road – the trainer stopping the video at various points – “what colour was the car waiting to pull out of the junction?” “what was the second road sign after the bend?” – I was rubbish!  Your brain is a positive processor, it needs instructing as to what to look out for, habitually we have slumped into just watching out for the road ahead – this is a habit we need to change in life too. Look forward but also around you, don’t just focus on one step at a time, one day at a time; the piece of road you can see, or the month that lies ahead. Imagineer what lies ahead, to the side and behind you that can impact your life.

\"around-the-corner\"My last insight was a reflection on the fact that the reason we make the decision to speed, to disregard road signs, to take risks and allow our habits to fall into disrepair, is because it is still good enough! We haven’t had an accident, been caught, done any damage – therefore what I am doing and the way I am driving is good enough! For me this was a hugely powerful learning because it reflects the fact that we are shaped by what has been successful.  Is good enough …. well… good enough? Accidents and opportunities are just around the corner, do you want to be just good enough and is that the best that you want to be?

Scary fact: driving at 35mph rather than 30mph more than doubles the chance of death in an accident!


6 responses to “Thank you for being caught speeding!”

  1. Tony Easeman avatar
    Tony Easeman

    Thanks for these blogs Richard – I always find time to read them as your ‘unusual angles’ and real-life examples away from the work environment often seem to chime with me.

    As a fellow biker I appreciate what you’re saying, and I’ll drive home tonight as if I were riding home – but with less filtering 🙂

    1. Richard avatar

      Hi Tony – thanks for the comment and the feedback – really appreciate it!

  2. Rebecca avatar

    Really wise. Thanks for sharing the insight, it’s made me reflect on a few areas, as well as driving but personal and work like too. Thanks Richard

    1. Richard avatar

      Thanks Rebecca – glad that it made an impact!

  3. Neil Adams avatar
    Neil Adams

    Richard I went on one of these back in the Autumn 82MPH in a 70 zone. I like you was grateful not to get the three points. What did I take away from the course? Apart form the obvious “SLOW DOWN BEFORE YOU KILL SOMEONE” – and it is never a bad thing to be reminded of that gem, I was really impressed by the facilitators. They were up front from the start “OK you lot don’t want to be hear: but you are so make the most of it” was the opening salvo. They confronted everyone’s fears head on and opened up some really good debates.

    So at the end of the session I was really really please to have gone along – I’d been reminded of my responsibility to be careful on the roads and picked up some new tips on facilitation.

    Every cloud has a silver lining



    1. Sounds very similar to my experience Neil – tough gig, an audience who don’t want to be there! Always something to learn 🙂

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