LONDON – She had 71 years of trouble-free motoring and tootled around London in her trusty runaround.
So grandmother Doreen Higgins, who uses her Renault Kangoo to drive her disabled husband to hospital, said she was stunned to get her first ever speeding ticket at the age of 88 – for doing 23 mph in a 20 mph zone.
Mrs Higgins passed her driving test in 1953 and her licence has remained spotless ever since.
But in Sadiq Khan’s London, where 20mph limits are in place on most roads, Mrs Higgins fell foul of a speed camera less than a mile from her home in Brentford last month. She was offered a speed awareness course, which can cost up to £100.
The Slowest City in the World
Ironically, the notice arrived just days after Mr Khan’s controversial speed restrictions led London to be named the slowest city in the world to drive in.
What Higgins Said
Mrs Higgins, who used to work for Wall’s ice cream, is a registered carer for her 94-year-old husband Christopher.
She said: ‘My husband has dementia and can hardly walk, so I take him in the car to the hospital twice a week.
‘When the ticket came through I was shocked – I have never been caught speeding, never had an accident, nothing – apart from the odd parking ticket of course.’
Asked how her family reacted to her first speeding offence, Mrs Higgins, who has a son and a daughter and two grandchildren, said: ‘They were all just amazed that I had done so well to avoid getting a ticket all these years.’
She added: ‘I have been driving for over 70 years and your brain just becomes programmed to the 30 mph speed limits.
‘I’m not against the 20 mph speed limits, as they make the roads safer, but it’s hard to get your brain into gear after so many years of driving at 30 and you have to keep looking at the speedometer.’
The couple used to drive their camper van across Ireland to visit family and have owned a range of cars including two Ford Granadas.
People Call it a ‘War on Motorists’
Transport For London, which manages the capital’s transport on behalf of the Mayor, Mr Khan, lowered the speed limits to 20 mph on 40 miles of roads last year, bringing most roads into the speed-reduction scheme, which TfL says saves lives.
Many London residents have been critical of the new go-slow, dubbing the scheme a ‘war on motorists’.
A spokesman for TfL said: ‘Our Vision Zero goal is designed to eliminate deaths and serious injuries, with speed continuing to be a factor in almost half of fatal collisions in London.
‘If a pedestrian is hit by a vehicle at 20 mph, they are around five times less likely to be killed than if they were hit at 30 mph.
‘Any money raised from fines goes directly to central government, while any income from speed awareness courses goes towards covering the cost of speed enforcement in London.’