With speed in mind

Car Mechanics (UK) - - Ted Connolly -

IT IS now pos­si­ble to get hold of a car that is ca­pa­ble of well over 120mph for a few bob. OK, that’s a bit of an ex­ag­ger­a­tion, but what I’m say­ing is that what would have been re­garded as high-per­for­mance jalop­ies a few years back – and were com­men­su­rately ex­pen­sive – are now well within the grasp of most of us. Old BMWS, some of the Mercs, Jags, the Mondeo ST and so on. They can all trol­ley on at a re­mark­able rate, yet they are gen­er­ally also re­mark­ably af­ford­able.

It’s all a mat­ter of tech­nol­ogy. Whereas ve­hi­cles like the Ford Sierra Cos­worth with its 200bhp mo­tor were once in a league in­hab­ited by few oth­ers, such out­puts are now mon­key fod­der as a re­sult of ad­vance­ments in en­gine de­sign – no­tably, the tur­bocharger.

The prob­lem is that no such ad­vance­ments have been made in brain­power and, thus, there are just as many loonies and ig­no­ra­muses per acre in our fair and pleas­ant land as there were a few decades ago. What this means, of course, is that very rapid ma­chin­ery is read­ily avail­able to those who can­not, do not or choose not to con­trol it. Cars have got faster, brains have not. The sit­u­a­tion is now ir­re­versible, but it can be sal­vaged to a cer­tain de­gree and that is by ed­u­ca­tion. I have been on a cou­ple of driv­ing cour­ses and also an ad­vanced

mo­tor­cy­cle course and learned a great deal. In fact, I learnt more from the bike ses­sions than those for mo­torists.

The course was taken by a highly ex­pe­ri­enced po­lice in­struc­tor and, among other things, he spoke about the need to be vig­i­lant and ob­serve road con­di­tions. I was pretty good at read­ing con­di­tions be­fore­hand, but be­came even bet­ter.

You see, when you are on two wheels, avoid­ing a skid could mean the dif­fer­ence be­tween life and death, as can be­ing to­tally aware of brak­ing dis­tances. It’s called self-preser­va­tion and we all pos­sess that to one de­gree or an­other. I think it would be highly ben­e­fi­cial for ev­ery road-user to start on a pedal cy­cle and then spend time rid­ing a pow­ered two-wheeler be­fore get­ting be­hind the wheel of a car. I do ap­pre­ci­ate that such a se­quence would not al­ways be fea­si­ble, but, as I said, it would be highly ben­e­fi­cial.

In an in­stant, this crossed my mind when I was over­taken by a Nis­san Qashqai in town. I had self­ishly sig­nalled left, thus im­ped­ing the driver’s progress by at least two sec­onds. He drove past on the wrong side of the road at a speed I would es­ti­mate to be 60mph. Upon com­plet­ing the ma­noeu­vre, he pulled to the left so sharply that the ve­hi­cle rocked vi­o­lently. He would never have at­tempted that on a mo­tor­cy­cle. Such driv­ing should be pun­ish­able by pub­lic flog­ging. And, no, I’m not be­ing con­tro­ver­sial for the sake of it. That’s my view.

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