The Daily Mail reports that Samuel Lees, 22, has been effectively banned from driving and fined £500 for splashing pedestrians in his car earlier this year. The mother who, with her children, he splashed is quoted:
I am very, very shocked by the punishment he has been given.
I don’t think that is fair at all. I think they must have wanted to make an example of him. But I think a slap on the wrist would have been sufficient.
Perhaps he could have gone on a driver awareness course, but what he has got from the court is really quite harsh. I would not wish that fine on anybody.
Whoa. Hold on a minute, here. Debbie Pugh – a “company director” – wasn’t quite so forgiving back in January. When the Daily Mail interviewed her at the time, she said:
The water went up over my shoulders, totally drenching me and the children – it was dirty, cold and it was disgusting. What he did was absolutely on purpose, there’s no doubt about it at all.
The driver could have avoided the puddle by going around it but he chose to speed through it and soak us all. I was fuming at the time.
My boy was in tears afterwards. The children were so wet I thought they might have to wear their PE kits when they arrived at school.
I saw the police were behind him when it happened but I did not initially realise they had stopped him.
When I came back from the school at about 9am there were blue lights flashing and they had pulled a car over and I realised it was him. At the time I was so angry – I am glad the police took action – people can’t go around driving like that.
You see, Ms Pugh, you got your wish. He no longer can go around driving like that. And this is one good reason why people like you shouldn’t be interviewed by newspapers and your opinions publicised. Your indignation could easily have influenced the outcome of the court’s decision, whereas your complete change of tune wouldn’t. Once upon a time, your ambivalent attitude might easily have resulted in someone innocent being executed. In this modern setting, Lees can no longer drive and may lose his job as a result.
Now, I am not commenting on the severity of the punishment. Lees deserves to be punished, and I don’t believe all his claims of innocence for one second. But again we have the problem of consistency in British Law. As the more recent report mentions, back in 2009 a woman, Kerry Callard, posted a Facebook video of herself splashing some kids at a bus stop. She can be heard squealing with glee as she does so. But police only “had a word with her”. Then, several years before that a guy from Somerset was fined £150 and given three points on his licence for wetting the trouser bottoms of a workman as he drove through a puddle at 10mph.
The offence of splashing pedestrian – certainly, the prosecution of it – is quite rare. But the few extant cases clearly show blatant sexual discrimination on the part of the authorities. Callard is by far the worst offender in this small sample – even videoing herself committing the crime on purpose – yet she got off completely. Someone who was taking genuine care through a puddle got points. Lees is somewhere in between those two – and got six points plus a £500 fine. As a new driver, six points is equal to a ban.
As I said recently, the Law is an ass.
Note that I have written about splashing pedestrians before.
I first got wind of Haim following a feature in Classic Rock magazine, and when I saw that they were appearing at Rock City I ordered tickets way back in October last year. Then they appeared on Jools’ Hootenanny on New Year’s Eve. Well, I went to them last night, and they put on a great show.
Classic Rock’s review emphasised their rock dimension, whereas their appearance on Hootenanny was more of an exercise in pop – which made me wonder if I’d made the right decision.
No one can seem to make up their minds what genre Haim belong to. The Wikipedia entry describes them as “nu-folk-meets-nineties-R&B” – and if I’d have seen that on its own I wouldn’t have gone to see them for love nor money. The fact that they apparently signed to Jay-Z’s management group would have further dissuaded me.
Others suggest they are influenced by Fleetwood Mac, but whatever others say you should always go on your own judgement. So I did. And I wasn’t disappointed.
The support act was “Saint Raymond”. I can’t get my head around whether they’re actually a band, or some guy called Saint Raymond aka Callum Burrows who has a backing band. I think it’s the latter, which actually does them a disservice – to be brutally honest, Burrows came across as the weakest link. As a band they were, well… competent. Nothing to shout home about, and after a couple of songs very “samey”. They were straight out of the 1980s indie scene – and that scene could be excruciating even back then.
Haim were very late coming on stage – they must have appeared around 9.30pm. Their set lasted for little more than an hour, which is maybe not surprising when you consider that they only have one album to date, and maybe this had something to do with the delay. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not meant in a negative way, it’s just that a 45 minute album is 45 minutes of music, and you can’t stretch that much beyond.
As a result, Haim performed a couple of covers – the most notable of which was Fleetwood Mac’s “Oh Well”, which was a full on rock jam, and which expressed the side of them I like the most. Early on, Este also climbed on to the speakers.
Even their poppier numbers were interspersed with great guitar riffs and pounding percussion, so rock was never lost entirely – though it nearly was when Danielle took to the drum kit at the start of the encore. Nearly, but not quite.
The gig was a sell-out (it sold out months ago), but the big question is what direction they will take now.
For me, the rock path is without doubt the best option – but R&B and rap will pay much more, and I can see them heading that way. Most American bands do. It’s a shame.
I got some decent photos (well, not of Alana, as she had her back to the side I was on most of the time). The crowd was a bit on the immature side, and was about 80% female. Fortunately, that meant most of it was about half my height. I almost got arc eye from all the LEDs from the selfies that were being taken, and there was one close shave when some arsehole (tall female) attempted to stand in front of me after I’d secured a clear view for the whole evening to that point – people who come in at the last minute, and then expect to get pole position really piss me off.
Rock City needs to get its act together as far as the cleaners are concerned. The floor was the stickiest I have ever been stuck to. It was dangerously sticky – if you stood still for more than a minute, any attempt to move almost meant falling over as both feet remained in place.
An indifferent curry at the Mogal-e-Azam – I’m sure that place is under new management – rounded off a decent night of music.
Next gig is Steel Panther later this month, also at Rock City.
If you use the search box on the right and type “annoying adverts”, you’ll see the previous examples I’ve written about. It seems that I’m not alone, as those adverts were specifically Googled by people (along with the word “annoying”) to find the blog.
I was just typing out an article before I left for my afternoon lesson, and I was assailed by two candidates for 2014’s most annoying adverts. Both involve whistling – the most irritating sound known to man.
The first was for Nescafe instant coffee. It features a number of people whistling “Bring Me Sunshine” and making other noises. It was followed immediately by an advert for TSB and, if anything, the annoyance level was higher due to the tuneless high-pitched racket. To make matters worse, TSB is obviously on some sort of campaign, as another variant with the same intense whistling came on at the next commercial break.
Why can’t people get it into their thick skulls that whistling is annoying? With knobs on.
Another funny story (funny for the rest of us) – from Florida this time. Patrick Snay had been in dispute over losing his job as a headmaster, and the authorities had agreed an out-of-court settlement of $80,000. Snay had to agree not to reveal the terms of the settlement. So far, so good.
But it would appear that Mr Snay had not really learnt much about the mentalities of the age group he had been associated with for however long he’d been a headmaster.
His daughter, Dana, immediately went on to Facebook and blabbed:
Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver. Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT,
Like most immature people, she had a list of followers as long as your arm – and some were either current or former pupils at the school. She had some 1,200 followers, to be a little more precise. Gulliver immediately went back to the court, which has ruled in their favour and blocked the settlement.
So Mama and Papa Snay won’t be getting $80,000 after all. And Dana won’t be gallivanting around Europe at Gulliver’s expense. If her parents have anything about them, she won’t be gallivanting anywhere at anyone’s expense.
The newsfeeds are alive with American articles about “distracted driving”. Nothing is ever simple in America, and California specialises in taking that fact several steps further. Most American states cannot agree on what is legal and what isn’t (just look at the latest from Jackson, Mississippi to see that in action), particularly when it comes to using mobile phones when driving. On top of that, the American constitution seems to result in almost nothing being legally illegal! This particular story illustrates that clearly.
Stephen Spriggs was given a ticket when he used his mobile phone whilst stationary in a traffic jam to look for an alternative route. He challenged the fine, and the appeal court has ruled that the law in question only applies to people “listening and talking” on their phones.
The law the CHP officer used to ticket Spriggs applies specifically to people “listening and talking” on cellphones, not using their mobile phone in other ways, the court said.
Texting while driving remains illegal under another California law passed after the one at issue in Spriggs’ case.
So it would appear that driving around fiddling with your satnav app is perfectly OK in California after this ruling. Heaven help them when Google Glass gains popularity.
Samuel Etherington, 20, has been jailed for 9 years, banned from driving for 7 years, and ordered to take an extended test when he is allowed to drive again. Although the report doesn’t make it clear, it seems that the driving ban will run concurrently with the prison sentence, meaning that when Etherington is released – probably in around 5 years time – he will only have to wait 2 years before getting his Provisional Licence back. If he doesn’t get parole immediately he may come straight out and be able to drive.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: UK Law is a complete ass sometimes.
Etherington was driving a modified Honda Civic (which are fast to begin with), with lowered suspension and loud exhaust. He had been taking ketamine (often referred to as “horse tranquiliser”) and mephedrone (an amphetamine), both of which are illegal. According to the Mirror article he revved his engine as he drove past Olivia Lewry and Jasmine Allsop. The two girls “shouted abuse” at him, and he turned around and drove at them at high speed. He hit them on the wrong side of the road, and both were killed.
What makes the story even more frightening is that the two girls knew Etherington and had actually arranged for him to pick them up from the party they had attended. Etherington’s car had a black box fitted and it showed that he accelerated to 71mph in a 30mph zone, striking the girls at approximately 65mph.
The BBC’s version of the story adds a few more astonishing details. It seems he lied about his speed, claiming he was driving at about 30mph. The black box in his car, which provided the real speed he was travelling at, was fitted because he had previously been banned from driving (after forcing a police officer to jump out of the way to avoid being hit, and failing to stop), and he couldn’t afford the insurance otherwise. The mug shot of Etherington shows him to be the archetypal pimply little scumbag you’d expect. Heaven only knows how he managed to get away with only 9 years instead of the maximum 14 given his record and the nature of this case.
But more chilling is the overlooked underworld today’s young people inhabit. All sentimental issues aside, the two girls knew Etherington and quite possibly had rode in his car before with him behaving the way people who drive modified pratmobiles usually behave. He was a drug user, a liar, and had a criminal record.
But the really, really scary part is that he isn’t unusual, and nor were the girls.
This story reports how a man on a mobility scooter was out with his dogs in Manchester when he was almost knocked off by a driving school car, and then allegedly beaten up when he remonstrated. The “beating” apparently involved being pushed to the floor and having his head stamped on. The “instructor” – in a silver Astra – then drove off.
I must say that the photo in the article doesn’t show the kind of wounds you’d normally associate with having your head stamped on.
Police say they are investigating, and that a counter claim of racial assault has been made. It makes you wonder what actually happened. Indeed, you also wonder if it was actually an instructor or just someone driving an instructor’s car.
I had to smile when I saw this come through on the newsfeeds. It reports that a driving instructor in Ilkeston “narrowly missed out” on being voted the country’s top driving instructor. The article reports:
His pupils voted en masse to put him forward for the Golden L awards, a national competition to find the UK’s top driving tutor…
It also adds:
Andy… says he is thrilled to have beaten 42,000 other instructors to be named second best in the country ‘so early on in his independent career.’
I’ve got news for you, Andy. You didn’t “beat” 42,000 other instructors. You beat all except one of the handful who were put forward by their pupils. I very much doubt that the pupils would have been aware of the award in the first place unless it was… ahem… brought to their attention. More than 99% of the other 42,000 instructors out there didn’t get entered – indeed, they were probably like me and didn’t even know about the competition, and wouldn’t have cared if they did.
Having said that, good luck to you and well done. But be careful not to let it go to your head. When I worked in the rat race, I once got an award I found embarrassing (and didn’t want) for showing “exemplary customer obsession”. In the end, it was precisely the same “customer obsession” that cost me my job.
This story certainly goes against the grain of comments I’ve made in the past. While the old Chalfont Drive test centre was operating, I made a point of the fact that the pass rates both there and at Colwick were about the same – with Colwick being very slightly higher (about 0.2% higher when I commented in 2011).
That has all changed. The Nottingham Evening Post reports that Colwick currently has a pass rate around 46.4%, whereas Beeston’s is a whopping 55.1%. Clifton has a much lower rate of 36.3%.
It makes it difficult for me to continue to argue that if someone is ready for their test then it doesn’t matter where they take it. Having said that, I do more than 90% of my tests at Colwick and my overall pass rate last year was well over 60%. I’ve only ever had two tests at Clifton, with one pass and one (recent) fail – the fail was for a very specific and correct reason. All my tests except one this year have been at Colwick, and my overall pass rate at the moment is 50%.
I still maintain that if someone is ready for their test then it doesn’t matter where they take it. However, there is now no way of avoiding the argument that someone who is less test-ready than someone else would stand a better chance of passing at Beeston, and a greater chance of failing at Clifton. Bugger.
In the article, a local instructor suggests that the extensive tram works in that area means that test candidates spend more time stopped or driving slowly, and this gives them more time to think and plan ahead. I’d agree with that. Mind you, whenever I travel over that side, the variable road layouts (they change from one day to the next without warning) have always struck me as a major risk factor. But in my experience of Beeston tests (I had a run of them last year), examiners avoid the Nottingham side somewhat and direct tests away from the road works. Comments by a typical learner are worrying:
The higher pass rate does make me more hopeful on what will be my first time.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens when the tram works finally end and tests can be conducted on more routes on the Beeston side.
A few weeks ago I wrote an article about the irresponsible advice being given to candidates (and likely to be taken up by any ADI who is a sandwich short of a picnic) to covertly record their driving tests. For anyone who has trouble with big words, in this context “covertly” means doing things in secret or without the knowledge of others.
Most Test Centres have a clearly placed notice warning that recording of driving tests is not allowed. If recording is found to be taking place, there will be an initial request to switch it off. If this is refused, or if suspicions are still aroused, then the test will be terminated and the candidate will lose their fee.
For the record, the DSA is not impressed that they were misrepresented in Fleet News as a direct result of Policewitness.com’s blatant attempts to sell more of its dashcams by urging people to behave dishonestly, and the suggestion that tests are completed according to some sort of agenda. The DSA has also pointed out that they do not allow recording of tests because a single (or even dual) camera cannot provide an accurate record of what was happening all around. They point out that the most common cause of test failure is poor observations, and that a single, forward-pointing camera (or even a dual, rear-pointing one) could not pick this up anymore than it could pick up what was happening either side of the vehicle. They also point out that they have no problem with cameras being fitted – they provide useful training opportunities for pupils on lessons – but they must be switched off during tests.
A normal human being would have no trouble accepting this. But of course, not all ADIs are normal people, and many believe that just because they have a spanking new cheapo camera off eBay then they should be allowed to use it on tests. I recently heard several comments about how the DSA shouldn’t be worried “unless it has something to hide”. This is precisely why cameras must not be allowed – the people saying this kind of thing already believe the DSA does have something to hide, and they’re itching to take issue and show how clever they are.
An example. Last week I had someone fail his test. On his lessons he had already shown a tendency to react to a red light above all else – even if the directional lights applying to him were on green (he had done it three times over two months of lessons). Well, he only got a couple of faults on his test, but one of them was a serious for response to traffic lights. When I questioned the examiner (ours are very helpful), it turned out he stopped at a notorious set of directional lights which were on green for the direction he was heading.
On the way home, he said “I knew you would make an issue out of that, but it definitely wasn’t what you think. I just stopped for a bit too long and she said it was too long”. However, at the risk of disagreeing with him (and annoying him – he has a short fuse in this respect) I pointed out that on the route he had taken there was no scenario where the lights for him would be on red as he rounded the corner, and therefore there would normally be no one stopped at the lights, which meant that there would be no reason for him to stop. By the time I dropped him off, he had partly confessed that he might have momentarily hit the brakes for the wrong red light.
But better still, we had a lesson recently and I took him along the same route. I knew what he had really done on that test, and stood my ground each time he tried to argue around it (it’s amazing how many different and completely unrelated excuses he can come up with for a single mistake). As we came round the corner – our lights on green arrow, but the right-turn ones on red – he slammed on his brakes to stop. I told him in no uncertain terms that that was almost certainly what he’d done on his test. And just to put the icing on the cake, we ran the same route two more times – the first of these he slammed the brakes on again, just as hard, and the second time he went for them and slowed down dramatically before realising. He has a deeply ingrained habit – the result of being self-taught – which he has almost no conscious control over. But during the after-test drive home it was the examiner’s fault…
My point is that if I was one of those dimwits who sees themselves as being at odds with the DSA over every possible aspect of driving, I could really have taken issue over the test fail based on what he told me. But DSA examiners are so reliable that I do not have to assume that every fail is some sort of scheme on their part, or that I need a camera to protect myself. I don’t.