Crime and punishment

Is it just me or do the police focus on the wrong things – or at least too few of them – when enforcing the rules of the road?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for cracking down on drink-drivers and for the judicious punishment of speeding, particularly in high-risk areas. Anyone who thinks it’s okay to do 45 in a school zone deserves to be punished to the fullest extent of the law as far as I’m concerned.

And I’m certainly no angel when it comes to observing the rules of the road. I routinely exceed the speed limit on motorways and have consequently picked up a couple of speeding offences in my time: fair enough. I have also been known to demonstrate a degree of impatience with other road users who are unobservant or unnecessarily slow or obstructive: I’m not proud of that either.

But in other respects I like to think I’m a reasonably accommodating driver. I will let people out at junctions, hop out of the way of faster cars, and I have a borderline obsession with parking neatly. UK roads are busy enough as it is without some of the micro-brained antics we frequently see making things worse.

So it annoys me somewhat that I could (rightly) be heavily penalised for doing 90mph on an empty motorway at night, while others who show a flagrant disregard for their fellow road users can get away with all manner of irritating acts which the police are either unwilling or unable to prosecute.

Here are my suggestions for five alternative motoring offences – with appropriate punishments, not just the usual points and a fine – which I believe would greatly enhance all road users’ driving experience.

1. Hands off, eyes down

Crime: Applying make-up, map-reading or similar activity which requires driver to look anywhere other than the road, or to take both hands off the wheel.

Punishment: Offender must complete their next journey with their hands super-glued to the steering wheel.

2. Queue-jumping

Crime: Deliberately cutting in at or near the front of a long queue at a motorway exit because you’re clearly more important than everyone waiting patiently behind you. In particular, those drivers who crawl along or stop in the middle lane holding up everyone behind them until some kind soul feels compelled to let them in. (It’s just so un-British – I thought we were a nation that knows how to queue politely – and it wouldn’t happen in the queue at your local post office, would it?)

Punishment: Offender is issued a spot punishment where they are made to wait until everyone they jumped in the queue has passed them, and then for a further ten minutes.

3. Road hog

Crime: Driver continues to occupy the outside lane of a motorway, even when a faster car comes up behind them and waits patiently for them to move into the empty middle/inside lane.

Punishment: Offender must complete the whole of their next motorway journey in the inside lane. Behind all the HGVs and caravans. At a maximum of 56mph.

4. Selfishness is not a disability

Crime: Parking in disabled or parent-with-child spots without either an orange badge or a child. (I mean, honestly, what makes you think these spaces have been set aside specifically to reduce the distance you have to walk? Have you ever tried getting a baby in and out of a car seat in the tight confines of a normal parking space? Or squeezing in or out of the car if you have a physical disability?)

Punishment: Offender’s car is towed to the furthest corner of the car park, and then squeezed into an especially tight space to prevent easy entry. Additional punishment for repeat offenders: all four tyres completely deflated.

5. Crossing the line

Crime: Driver straddles multiple spaces in a car park (and generally claims they are in too much of a hurry to park properly).

Punishment: Offender must pay for each space occupied, or else all parts of their vehicle not within the white lines of the main parking space are sliced off with a chainsaw.

I’m telling you, introduce and enforce just these five offences and I guarantee Britain will be a better place. Now if you’ll excuse me, there are some men in white coats coming for me …