You know the routine. You're late, the car behind is late, horns are honking, tempers are frayed. If you don't get there on time, your wife/mother/lover/ employer will kill you. So you step on the gas and, as they say in all the best getaway scenes, you burn some rubber.

You know the routine. You're late, the car behind is late, horns are honking, tempers are frayed. If you don't get there on time, your wife/mother/lover/ employer will kill you. So you step on the gas and, as they say in all the best getaway scenes, you burn some rubber.

Except that it isn't a getaway scene, it's a British road anywhere from Penzance to Perth and you get flashed by one of the 5,000 speed cameras in operation. If you're lucky, it might not have any film. But you could be unlucky and have your mugshot taken. Or, if it's really not your day, you could kill someone.

It's a myth that road deaths are caused by cars travelling at excessive speed down motorways and dual carriageways. In fact, two-thirds of accidents where people are killed or seriously injured happen on roads where the speed limit is 40mph or less. Admittedly, the offenders are speeding, but not by much. Usually only by as much as we all risk because we are trying to avoid being late.

Which brings me to the Government's plans to introduce a variable points system for drivers caught on speed cameras. It is estimated that, as a result of speeding, about three million drivers, 10 per cent of all licence holders, will be fined and have their licences endorsed by the end of this year.

This is double what it was two years ago. The net result for the police, local authorities and the Treasury in the next 12 months could be revenue of about £180m.

Motorists' lobby groups are outraged. Motorists Against Detection (MAD) have resorted to extreme measures, blowing up cameras. Other motorists have tied the cameras to their vehicles and yanked them out of their fixings. Several have spray painted camera lenses.

But all are united in one aim, to have what they see as their motoring rights re-instated. The speed cameras, they claim, are designed to generate revenue and to rob them of their ability to drive. What they never say is that the cameras have reduced deaths and near-fatal accidents by 35 per cent. However, bowing to motorists' pressure - not to save lives, but to save votes - the Government claims its new proposals will make the system "fairer".

Currently, there is a £60 fine with three points on your licence for all contraventions. Under new proposals, a driver doing, say, 36mph in a 30mph zone would only warrant two points. A driver doing 60mph would get six points, and those doing 100mph would receive a ban.

On the face of it, this seems just or at least reasonable. But what is wrong with sticking to the rules? If you hit someone at 35mph instead of at 30mph, the force of the impact increases by more than a third. Ergo: they will almost certainly die.

It is true that since the advent of speed cameras there has been less old-fashioned policing. The number of traffic police officers has dropped by 11 per cent over the past five years. The number of motorists being stopped for breathalyser tests has reached its lowest level for 10 years. And when was the last time you saw someone pulled over for erratic driving? But the new proposals don't address these issues.

A friend recently admitted she was flashed and a letter came. Having had an unblemished record for more than 20 years, she begged her husband to take the rap. She had been driving his car. He gave in - and now has three points on his licence. She has agreed to a six-month self-imposed reliance on public transport. It's a strange sort of justice, but one that makes about as much sense as the Government's proposals - no sense at all.

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