Motoring Journalist Prosecuted for Speeding in Video

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
motoring journalist prosecuted for speeding in video

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]

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  • Dividebytube Dividebytube on Oct 23, 2019

    I see a lot of people in the Mustang FB group I'm part of posting street racing vids. Speeds in excess of over 100mph on highways or country roads. I've done some stupid stuff in my time but I didn't record it and then share online.

  • -Nate -Nate on Oct 24, 2019

    Interesting . -Nate

  • 3SpeedAutomatic Drove a rental Cherokee for several days at the beginning of this year. Since the inventory of rental cars is still low, this was a 2020 model with 48k miles and V6. Ran fine, no gremlins, graphics display was easy to work, plenty of power, & very comfortable. Someone must of disarmed the lane assistance feature for the steering wheel never shook (YES!!!!!!!!). However, this woman's voice kept nagging me about the speed limit (what's new!?!?!?!).I was impressed enough to consider this a prime candidate to replace my 11 yr old Ford Escape. Might get a good deal with the close out of the model. Time will tell. 🚗🚗🚗
  • Bullnuke One wonders if this poor woman entered the US through Roxham Road...
  • Johnds Years ago I pulled over a vehicle from either Manitoba or Ontario in North Dakota for speeding. The license plates and drivers license did not come up on my dispatchers computer. The only option was to call their government. Being that it was 2 am, that wasn’t possible so they were given a warning.
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