Motoring Journalist Prosecuted for Speeding in Video

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

The UK’s Derbyshire Constabulary celebrated a major victory this week. The triumph of justice was even given its own official announcement. Did the department finally tamp down the area’s rising violent crime rate?

Nope. They caught an automotive journalist speeding — one year after he did it.

Joe Achilles was testing an Audi R8 RSW on the A57 Snake Pass last November, later posting footage on his Facebook wall. Derbyshire Constabulary’s Roads Policing Unit noticed the video while “investigating an entirely different matter,” according to its release, and set out to prove just how fast he was going.

The problem was that Achilles didn’t put a camera on his speedometer, forcing police (bobbies) to estimate his speed by calculating how much ground he was covering in the video between landmarks. The department tapped Road Safety Support (RSS) to do the math.

“RSS provide help in all sorts of road safety matters to forces around the country; however, ours was a very specific request,” explained Sergeant Adam Shipley. “We needed to be able to prove the speed the car was travelling at along what, myself and my team know only too well, is one of our most deadly roads.”

From the Derbyshire Constabulary:

Using state of the art technology technical support manager for RSS, Steve Callaghan, was able to work out exactly how fast the Audi R8 was traveling.

Mr Callaghan said: “I examined the video file and was able to find the location of the incident, starting at the car park of the Snake Pass Inn, driving east towards Sheffield.

“The Facebook video showed road markings and traffic signs that were distinctive, and which were able to be identified in the video as well as the Google Earth Pro application.

“Distances between the signs were measured with the application and the timing of the journeys between the signs was calculated from the video file.”

Eleven average speeds were calculated for the 50 mph zone. The slowest was estimated at around 58 mph, with the fastest being 93 mph. Achilles appeared at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates Court on October 16th, where he was handed a fine of £615, ordered to pay costs of £620 and had six points issued against his license. Authorities in the country have the right to revoke driving privileges at 12 under UK law.

“This type of driving is careless, reckless and selfish. On this occasion, thankfully nobody died, but all too often the outcome very different,” stated Sergeant Shipley. “For a man who drives for a profession I am appalled that he seemingly has so little value for the lives of other road users … Strapping a Go Pro to the side of a car and driving in this manner – all in a bid to get viewers on social media — is quite frankly pathetic.”

Equally pathetic is the police going to such great lengths to fine some guy over £615 for doing his job. Granted, he could have executed it in a safer manner, and yes, he did technically break the law. But the authorities are clearly making an example of Achilles — hoping to deter other would-be speeders. Rather than slapping him on the wrist, the Derbyshire Constabulary dialed its math to eleven in order to calculate the maximum penalty possible a year after the incident took place.

“I hope this case sends a message to others like Joe Achilles who think they can come to our county and put lives at risk,” said Shipley. “We may not see you at the time but know that we have the capability to ensure that you are brought to justice.”

Maybe I’ve watched too many Smokey and the Bandit films, but the best way to catch a speeder, in this author’s opinion, is in the act while they have the full support of truckers everywhere. While the Bandit isn’t ever going to stop, regular folks absolutely will and can be issued a fine by the side of the road (to the truckers’ collective dismay). Doing a CSI murder investigation over a case of someone driving too fast seems like a ludicrous waste of resources and is decidedly unsportsmanlike.

Was Achilles driving too fast for this particular road and its traffic? Probably. There were definitely opportunities for passing traffic to enter his lane before he had time to do much about it. I wouldn’t have done it. But ticketing him after the fact didn’t make those people safer and celebrating it like it was this month’s crowning achievement for the department seems unnecessary — especially given the nature of Achilles’ crime.

Perhaps you don’t agree and are happy with police using video evidence to penalize lead-footed motorists. That’s fine. But, with cameras cropping up everywhere (including inside cars), it’s probably just a matter of time before you get a bill for something more innocuous than speeding. And, if you’re a cop, don’t tell me you don’t enjoy going Code 3 to pull someone over. Chasing down speeders is half the reason you took the job.

Then again, maybe Achilles is just the one guy who got caught while everybody else keeps getting away with it, and there’s nothing really to worry about. It’s not like you have to film yourself breaking the law, even if it’s for a debatably good reason.

[Image: ffly/Shutterstock]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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2 of 59 comments
  • -Nate -Nate on Oct 24, 2019

    Interesting . -Nate

  • John John on Nov 23, 2023

    I dont know, 93 in a 50's worthy of a ban, I think he got off lightly. I cycle around there, I don't want to come across someone driving like that. This is a roads policing issue, complaining that they should be investigating violent crime instead is just childish BS.

  • Dave M. The Outback alternates between decent design and goofy design every generation. 2005 was attractive, 2010 goofy. 2015 decent. 2020 good, but the ‘23 refresh hideous.Looking forward to the Outback hybrid in ‘26…..
  • Lorenzo Subaru had the ideal wagon - in 1995. The Legacy Outback was a straight two-box design with rear quarter and back windows you could see out of, and was available in brown with a 5-speed manual, as God and TTAC commenters intended. It's nice they're not raising prices, but when you've lost the plot, does it matter?
  • Bkojote Remember a month a go when Cleveland wanted to create a more walkable Cleveland and TTAC's 'BIG GOVERNMENT IS THE PROBLEM' dumbest and dullest all collectively crapped their diapers? Here's the thing- look on any American highway and it's littered with people who don't /want/ to be driving or shouldn't be. Look at every Becky on her phone during the morning commute in her Tucson, look at every Brad aggro driving his 84 month loan GMC. Hell look how many drivers nowadays can't even operate a headlight switch. You expect these people to understand a stoplight? In my neighborhood alone 4 people have been rear ended at lights from someone on their phone. Distracted driving over the past 10 years has spiked, and it's only going to get worse unless Becky has an alternative, because no judge is going to pull her license when 'she needs it to get to work!' but heaven forbid she not check fb/tiktok for 40 minutes a day.
  • Scott Shouldn't the The Italian Minister for Business be criticizing The Milano for being too ugly to be Italian?Better use of resources doing that....
  • Steve Biro Frankly, while I can do without Eyesight and automatic start-stop, there is generally less B-S with Subarus in terms of design, utility and off-road chops than with many other brands. I just hope that when they adopt Toyota’s hybrid system, they’ll also use Toyota’s eCVT.