Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Automotive: Don't Make Me Fall In There.......

As my house master from my college days will relish telling you I do not take well to being lectured. I guarantee you that he will attest that tyrannically telling me what to do and how to do it will at best fall upon deaf ears and at worst will result in a highly aggressive, full blown tantrum. And if you cannot find him then this will be equally well explained by my mother, my father, my University tutor, several girlfriends and a large number of women who had the foresight to ensure that they never achieved that status.

I will admit that this has presented me with a range of problems over the years. Namely laziness, underachievement, several messy and expensive break-ups and a broken jaw.

I will however argue that I am far from alone in possessing this rather irritating and somewhat self destructive character trait. I know this for a fact because on the many occasions that I have chosen to lecture others it hasn’t always gone down well. If truth be told it has in fact always gone down spectacularly badly.

This, in a roundabout way, brings me to my point; being lectured is annoying and degrading to anyone and hypocrisy is downright unacceptable.

In isolation either gives you many understandable reasons to stand up and punch the perpetrator square in the face whereas combining the two gives you the British government. Or the American. Or the French. And let’s not even discuss the Italians...

To put it bluntly, if I want to be lectured by a hypocrite I will invite Bono round for dinner and suggest that we discuss the ‘real issues’. I don’t so I won’t and I will do anything in my power to avoid ever having to associate with the holier than thou preachers who ride around on their high horses merrily doubling standards wherever they go.

It is precisely my hatred of this that this morning caused me to descend into an indescribable rage. The sort of rage that makes you want to stamp your feet, scratch out your own eyes and scream to the Gods with a biblical fury. It was, in short, a full on hissy fit.

The cause? A pot-hole.

Not just any pot hole I might add. The sort of pot-hole that when you hit it sends a huge shunt reverberating through the wheels, then the suspension, then the seat and then directly to the very core of your being. One that doesn’t so much send a shudder down your spine but rather snaps it in two.

Now although massively annoying, and subsequently faced with a car that went right when I turned right, went left when I turned left but went left and right with alarming alacrity when I wanted to go straight, this in isolation was not the main cause of my wrath.

No, the real cause was the fact that as I pulled over to call Goldman Sachs in order to determine the size of the investment I would have to make to in order to rectify my only means of transport I could see a speed camera. And three fluorescent 40mph signs. The sort that spring into action if your drive past too fast. And a strange bollard arrangement amusingly known as ‘traffic calming measures’. (From where I was sat it wasn’t calming bugger all).

Here I was surrounded by many millions of pounds worth of draconian tools all designed, installed and paid for under the guise of promoting road safety. It was as I sat there with my body temperature rising, and the inevitable beads of sweat forming on my brow bringing with them the rush of anger usually reserved for a Downing Street aide that it occurred to me that the one aspect of road safety that had been overlooked was the fucking road itself.

Now it is clear to me, you and anyone with the ability to be awake that the surface of the road on which one drives is arguably the most important factor in ensuring safety to drivers. Ask Sebastien Loeb about the intricate differences between gravel and tarmac, or Jenson Button about the effect that dirt or sand on a race track has on the driving dynamics of his Formula 1 car and they will tell you in no uncertain terms that surface is everything. Bloody hell, even a Bangladeshi rickshaw driver will state his preference in order for self preservation of something smooth and even.

In fact, especially a Bangladeshi rickshaw driver.

If we want our nation’s drivers to accelerate, brake and steer to the best of their ability then it seems fairly obvious to me that the powers that be must provide a better quality of road surface. The effects of braking sharply to reduce the impact of hitting a pot-hole or swerving to avoid it in the first place or of actually hitting one at speed are arguably more often worse than driving at 33mph through a 30mph limit.

The British motorist is routinely bent over and ravaged for every spare penny we have at every opportunity. It is very well documented that we pay road tax, fuel tax, tax on the car that we buy, fines for driving slightly too fast on a deserted motorway and a myriad of other means of funding the state. Where does this money go?

We are also toldto Think! as we are subjected to pre-watershed TV adverts that graphically illustrate the carnage that can occur on the roads due to drink, speed and not wearing a seat-belt. I do not drink and drive. I always wear a seatbelt. I do not drive with excessive speed for the given situation. These are things I can control and I do not need to be lectured about them. If I want to know exactly what killed Richard in gruesome detail then I will read Shakespeare.

We are even told that driving a car in the first place is tantamount to murdering the planet. In general we are told that the volatility of motoring as an activity is the ultimate harbinger of doom and bringer of death to all of society and as such we are told to abide by a set of parameters that make Kim Jong-il appear quite lenient.

Our government will not however put their money where their mouth is and ensure that even some of the estimated £10 billion that is needed to repair our roads sees its way into a cement mixer to sit at the side of road and do nothing. This level of hypocrisy is ridiculous and simply unacceptable and has been going on for years and is not simply a result of one particularly cold winter.

The cost, financial and especially human, of the third world road surfaces that we are subjected to in this country is hugely substantial and I just thank my lucky stars that this morning it was the former that I had to pay.

It will happen though and in fact I am sure it already has. At some point someone somewhere will be legally doing 60mph only to round a corner and hit a pot-hole that will disrupt the momentum of the car enough to throw it off of the road and they will die as a result.
Will we therefore ever see an advertising campaign telling us of the dangers of hitting a pot-hole? Will we bollocks.

We (still, just about) live in one of the wealthiest and most powerful nations on the planet and it is an embarrassment and a disgrace that the stubborn and pathetic hypocrisy, as well as inept financial management, of our government puts people’s livelihoods, and indeed their lives, at risk on a daily basis over something so simple and easy to put right. All this whilst it lectures us on our responsibilities for safety on the roads. It’s time they stood up, were counted and did something about it. Let’s face it..they haven’t got long left.

Apologies for the rant but this morning got the heart rate going in more ways than one and fear and loathing had to be vented somehow.

There.... lecture over. Drive safely.

No comments:

Post a Comment