Thursday, 25 September 2008

The Old 'Good Cop - Bad Cop' Routine?

Kent Online have recently posted a news story about the success of Kent Police's first unmarked video bike.

The story included a video, viewable here.

The story continues:

It is fast. It is furious. And it should send every speeding biker into a wheel spin.

This video shows graphically how Kent's motorbike cops are hot on the trail of law-breaking motorists.

The unmarked camera bike seen in action above has brought an almost 100 per cent conviction rate for speeding and careless driving.

The short clip shows a 46-year-old biker reaching speeds of up to 90 mph along a county lane in Mereworth, West Kent.

He was given three penalty points and fined £60.

Figures for the first 18 months since the bike was introduced show 84 motorists were caught breaking the law, and officers believe lives have been saved as a result.

Sixty eight were caught speeding, 11 for careless driving and five for dangerous driving.

Head of roads policing, Chief Inspector Roscoe Walford, said: “I like to think that the use of the unmarked bike contributed to that great result.

“Meantime, I would warn motorists to think about the consequences of being caught committing an offence. At best you risk a fine, ban or an increase in insurance premiums. At worst you risk a criminal record, losing your job or going to jail.”

The unmarked bike was also used during a recent road safety campaign and, for the first time, there were no deaths and serious injuries in that time.

Kent Police plan to buy another unmarked bike in the near future.

Other convictions as a result of video footage from the unmarked bike include:

• A 25-year-old man received a six months ban and was fined £565 at Canterbury magistrates’ court after speeding in a residential street in Canterbury.

• A 47-year-old man was banned from riding for 14 days and fined £465 at Dartford magistrates’ court after he rode at 80mph in a 40mph limit and 49mph in a 30mph zone along an A road in Swanscombe.

But it set me wondering about how this news story might be taken by 'Joe & Josephine Public', as they're out and about on their daily travels?

Will they care that Kent Police have an unmarked bike? They may consider that the chances of encountering it are minimal.

Or will they associated all bikes with the possibility of being unmarked, video-equiped, police? And if so, what will their reaction be - positive or negative?

In 1974, in the USA, a chap named 'Leonard' did some research on motorcycle conspicuity.

He varied the appearance of his bike, and counted the number of 'right of way violation' - ie how often drivers pulled out in front of him.

He used three different 'arrangements'.

Two of them, 'ordinary motorcycle' and 'spectacularly visible' both suffered an average of between 1.8 and 2.0 violations perday.

But in 'police rig' there were just 0.1 violations per day.

In other words, people had a 'reason' for seeing that particular bike!

So I wonder whether - despite the licence risks to 'enthusiastic' riders - there may be a small unexpected 'safety' benefit from the unmarked bike.


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