After a successful trial that has been ongoing since the start of 2001, the Southend Road Safety Coalition has announced that its pilot scheme of introducing ‘pacemaker cars’ to the borough’s roads has now been confirmed as a regular weekly arrangement. A number of Southend motorists have already noticed these vehicles in operation on Sundays, and the chief executive of SRSC is convinced that they are the ‘best possible tool’ to keep all road users at a safe margin below the speed limit. 

SRSC supremo Roger Lentement said: ‘We were inspired while watching TV coverage of the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and we noticed that a number of longer track events have pacemaker runners to ensure that the race pace is competitively-high – we realised that the same scientific principle could be applied to vehicles on the roads. We started a small trial shortly afterwards where we asked 20 owners of three-door cars to drive around on Sundays at between 5-10 mph under the speed limit locally, and average Sunday road speeds literally plummeted overnight. Bringing this revolutionary scheme into action across Southend is finally happening from the Sunday of the Bank Holiday Weekend, and they will be hitting the roads on Monday too as a bonus.’

Mr Lentement added: ‘All of our drivers are given advanced driving training to ensure that other motorists are not able to overtake in key areas where traffic flows could be improved. We tend to stick with 15 year old Citroen vehicles, but we are open to applications from all walks of life, and we are about to launch a huge recruitment drive in the area as Southend Borough Council and local police officials have realised that our system is far more effective than cameras and speed bumps!’


Ideally, applicants should meet the following criteria:

  • A clean driving license, ideally obtained while cars were still powered by rotating a handle that was attached to the front of the vehicle. 
  • Driving a three-door hatchback that is just small enough to be the perfect ‘city’ vehicle, while having enough ‘road presence’ to give the impression that it is a HGV.
  • Owning the above type of vehicle that was also manufactured in 2001 or earlier, with no more than 3000 miles on the clock. 
  • A ‘modern and confident’ approach to driving that includes the idea that no motorist will mind waiting for 20 minutes to get through the traffic lights at The Bell Toby Carvery while you allow every other bastard to leave the car park first. ‘Keep Clear’ boxes are there for a reason, after all.