Lessons from Speed Cameras

I was driving home the other day, I forget where from but that piece of information is irrelevant to this post so if you agree not to worry about it neither will I. Anyway, I passed one of those yellow boxy speed cameras and thought how many times have I being in the situation where upon approaching such a speed camera I have had need to put my foot on the brake to slow the car down to the regulation speed limit so that I don’t run the risk of seeing that dreaded double flash in my rear view mirror that tells me I will have a £60.00 bill to look forward to in a couple of weeks.

Actually the last time that did happen I was in the car with Karen and we were on our way back from a wedding reception late one Saturday evening. And heading towards Huddersfield town centre from the Wakefield road end, you know that bit where it widens out to a four lane mega highway? I was doing around 40mph and the flash of a speed camera went off. Not that I am making excuses here, but it seems that they have dropped the speed limit to 30mph on that stretch of road and I had not seen the signs or realised that they had dropped the speed limit, so anyway a lovely night out was suddenly marred by those two bright flashes of light! I need not of worried though because unbeknown to me, either the camera was empty of film, or it had just been set to trigger to send any wary speedsters into a rush for their brake pedal to slow the vehicle down (funny how we instantly react to try and put something right the moment we have being caught isn’t it?),

Anyway, turning from my digression to what I originally intended to write about, I passed this particular speed camera, you know that one I mentioned I passed whilst on my way home the other day and it got me thinking when we know the route we are taking we oftentimes, or maybe it’s just me and if so then this is my confession, know where things like the speed cameras are positioned and we adjust our driving so that as we approach them we either let the car slow down till we have passed the danger of the white markings that allow the enforcing authority to work out exactly what speed we were travelling at, or as is the case on the steep road connecting Halifax to Huddersfield, we apply the brake to purposely slow down till danger has passed.

I then got to thinking that the effectiveness of such speeding deterrent looses some of its clout through the aspect of familiarity. You become familiar with a route and you can break the speed limit with aplomb knowing just the right time to slow things down a little.

I have often thought that the speed deterrents used on the motorway through road works is a much more effective way of managing speed control than the isolated speed cameras that are ubiquitously deployed on our road network. You see as you are approaching the road works, there is more often than not a sign that declares not only that there are speed restrictions up ahead but that those speed restrictions are been monitored by “average speed, cameras”. I am sure most of you know what those are, but indulge me whilst I explain. You see unlike the isolated yellow boxy things that are the usual speed deterrence the deployed on our roads, that cover an isolated section of road and catch you out if you drive through above the designated speed limits, the type used on the motorways are much cleverer and they actually measure how long it takes you to get from one set of cameras to the next, then the next, then the next until the last camera where you usually see the national speed limit sign and everyone puts their foot down on the accelerator and speeds up, naturally to the maximum of 70mph. (Ahem).

The point is, that these cameras are spaced out so that if you get to the second one in an earlier time span than the reduced speed limit would allow you too, then you must have broken the speed limit to do so. The vehicle registration recognition software tracks every car that passes through the beady eye of the camera and when you plate is flagged up the system issues a penalty notice and three points on your licence. It all very clever stuff and the health and safety of the workers implementing the road improvements in the road works and the nature of reduced lane widths and the protection of other drivers and their passengers are all good reasons why during road works such speed restrictions are more rigorously enforced.

You see entire stretches of road are protected using this type of speed camera and it prevents the pattern of speeding up, then sudden slowing down that the other form of speed cameras would tend to encourage if they were used. I’m sure like me, you have sat in lines of traffic cruising at a steady 50mph on the motorway because this very clever type of speed camera is present. It makes me wonder why some people don’t get it. I have at time seen other drivers treat these cameras in the same way as the other camera types and they slow down as they approach the average speed camera installation, only to speed up again till the next one. I wonder how many tickets they get doing that?

So what’s the point? Well I’m glad you asked me that!

It got me thinking. How do we as Christians live our lives at times? Are we living our lives like the fist type of camera where we know that Sunday is Gods day and so he will be watching, so we put on our Sunday best, behave, go to church and even do nice things for others, but the rest of the week we, with maybe the odd exception for the evening when there is a small group meeting or other meeting at church, live our lives pretty much they way we want to not paying God much if any regard?

Or do we live our lives like the second speed camera example, where we know that our God is always there, always watching and so we do our best to please Him 24/7?

Of course this analogy breaks down at this point because the presence of the speed cameras in both examples is to catch us doing something wrong and ultimatum to penalise us for getting caught. Thank God, that His presence in our lives is nothing like that at all. Instead He wants to be there 24/7 to encourage us, the help us in times of trouble or pain, to show His continuing love for us, not to berate us or condemn us or to issue the equivalent of a spiritual fixed penalty notice and three points on our licence!

But we can and we do sometimes forget that He is there and we go off and do our own thing, putting our foot down on the accelerator of our lives with scant or no regard to God and it’s then that we run the risk of loosing control and crashing in a spectacular way.