With speed in mind
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.