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406mph Peugeot pushes back envelope of credulity

Readers muse on speed camera madness

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Letters The speed camera issue is certainly emotive, if the response to our article this week on Peter O'Flynn and his amazing 406mph Peugeot is anything to go by.

Many of the emails we received chronicled scandalous miscarriages of justice such as the chap clocked at 83mph while pedalling a bicycle down the A12. Obviously a technical cock-up in the camera department is to blame for that particular outrage, but in the case of Mr O'Flynn, are there other, darker, forces at work?:

I'm probably stating the obvious, but maybe there's been a mix-up between the type of the Peugot (406) and the alleged speed of the car (406 mph)? But I'm still curious on what charges Peter O'Flynn will be brought up...

Sincerely

Jan-Joost van Kan

So are we. For the record, we did notice the chilling numerical co-incidence, but decided to supress it for fear of provoking the black helicopter brigade. Our Pete should just be grateful he wasn't driving a Vauxhall Corsa 1700...

As to the matter of how fast our speeding knight of the road was in fact travelling, various readers were keen to take us to task on the finer points of metric etiquette. Perry Newhook took considerable umbrage thus:

In an article in 'The Register' you state that the motorist was "clocked at an impressive 406mph (653kmph)". What an abomination of the metric system. The correct spelling should have been 653 km/h.

Here is a website showing correct SI usage from (believe it or not) the Americans:
http://lamar.colostate.edu/~hillger/correct.htm

It's been over 30 years since the UK has started its conversion to the metric system and the fact that people like you can't even correctly spell the units is just ridiculous.

Metric? Never heard of it mate. Now if we had a pound for every email like the following from Robert Moore, we would currently be living it up with a handsome €1.44:

I realize that in the states we know nothing about the outside world....

But in regards to the article mentioned in the subject, the link provided had a copy of the offending ticket.

The speed was quoted in MPH. Wouldnt it have been recorded in KPH being over there across the pond... ?

Nah. We still have miles over here in Blighty, one of which equals (and we offer these equivalents purely for the benefit of our European neighbours) a healthy 1.60934 km, or 1.70111e-13 light years or 13,746 French Golden Delicious apples laid end-to-end.

Having straightened that out, we now come to another apparent factual crash-and-burn:

Sorry to point out a minor flaw in your article, the speed of sound (at sea level at least) is 761 mph. It means the 406 in question would have to be faster than it was clocked at to make a sonic boom!

http://www.aerospaceweb.org/question/atmosphere/q0112.shtml

Dave McK

Well, we did only say the man was attempting to break the sound barrier. And a very good effort it was too, although we are clearly not the only nation to be pushing back the envelope of ground speed. Thomas Conway writes from Australia:

Here in Melbourne there has been lots of hoorah over much the same issue. A truck driver was booked doing 180kph though the Burnley Tunnel, which is equaly laughable.

Shouldn't that be km/h? For shame. Stuart Lamble offers further evidence of Antipodean speed camera madness:

It will no doubt come as no surprise to the more cynical amongst us that this sort of thing is by no means uncommon. Witness the following three articles in the Melbourne (Australia) Age:
http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/10/30/1067233322213.html
http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/11/10/1068329487082.html
http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/12/23/1071941726867.html

and consider that there's been a massive backlash in Victoria against speed cameras, on the basis that it's more about revenue raising than safety.

And there's the rub: No matter how much the government protests to the contrary, many drivers see these cameras as nothing more than a nice little earner for the powers that be. The fact that they regularly malfunction serves only to rub salt into the wound.

All of which rather scotches the idea that you only have something to fear if you're exceeding the speed limit. Still, it provides plenty of entertainment, and we await the first recorded transonic Skoda - driven by a octogenarian member of the Women's Institute on her way to a flower-arranging demonstration - with considerable relish. ®

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