To my shame I had barely noticed I had been going over the speed limit earlier this year when I saw the fixed camera flash.
Two days later a letter arrived at my home confirming my worst fears, I had been breaking the limit.
I was caught driving at 37mph in a 30 zone in east Belfast.
It was around 1am and I had been driving home to Newtownards after finishing a late shift at the News Letter head office in Craigavon.
I was tired and keen to get home but as the instructor on the Speed Awareness Course said, you may be able to justify it to yourself but could you offer that excuse to the parents of a child you had killed because you were going too fast?
We started the course with the instructor asking everyone in the room to say what speed they had been caught at.
I was surprised that almost everyone in the room had been caught at 37 or 38mph, with two caught going over 40mph. The course is for people caught marginally over the limit, and is an alternative to penalty points and £60 fine.
The age range in the room tended to be older, and the man I was sitting beside said he had been driving for 40 years without a speeding ticket before.
The four-hour session at the Stormont Hotel started off with a driving knowledge quiz. I thought the answers seemed simple enough like how to recognise a stop sign. But I was shocked when I realised that my answer of round and red for a speed sign was wrong – only one person in the room knew that a stop sign is actually octagonal.
But the most effective part of the course was the videos that showed the stark difference in braking distances. Even just being a few miles an hour over the limit can be the difference between being able to brake and avoid hitting a pedestrian and being able to stop in time to miss them.
Around 50,000 people have been through the Speed Awareness course in Northern Ireland since they began in July 2010.
The course is being run by AA DriveTech, co-ordinated here by Northern Ireland scheme manager Neil Totten.
Between 2009 and 2010 there was the most significant drop in road death statistics ever seen in Northern Ireland.
Mr Totten said there is a 96 per cent satisfaction rating of the course by users. He also said he believed the course contributed to the sudden drop in road fatalities.
“In 2009 speed was the most common cause of serious and fatal road traffic collisions in Northern Ireland, but now speed is starting to drop and it’s no longer right up at the top.
“Obviously it’s not all down to the speed awareness course but the statistics do speak for themselves,” Mr Totten said.
Inspector Rosemary Leech from the PSNI’s Roads Policing unit described the courses as “very successful”.
“The courses have proved useful as they re-educate and highlight to drivers the dangers of speeding,” she said. “It is aimed at reminding drivers of their responsibility to themselves and other road users and enhances the driving skills they had when they first learnt to drive.”