Dep-O Magazine

Unhinged: Unsafe At Any Speed?

Simon Charlesworth July 10, 2012 3 Comments on Unhinged: Unsafe At Any Speed?

Please tell me when it’s safe to come out… It would appear that someone somewhere has said something about increasing the motorway speed limit, and all hell has broken loose on the wireless. Critically, it’s given a prime opportunity for the slack jawed, dead eyed species – those who suffer from a crucial imbalance betwixt gob and brain size – to bask in the limelight of their own magnificent ignorance.

A car at speed or a speeding car...?

Three, two, one – and you’re on the air. “I don’t drive but…”

But what, eh? Come on… Surprise me with the originality of your laser beam insight. Or are you merely going to mouth off about ‘speed kills’, ‘better late than never’ and ‘the only dangerous nut is the one behind the wheel’. Concluded with a scoff and self-satisfied chortle.

It hasn’t helped that this vox pop has been aired by a local radio station, an outfit which is only a distant second to the Stasi in the black art of political subjectivity. Sorry brutha, only double plus good viewpoints welcome here.

One poor soul did try and make a valid point about time-sensitive variable speed limits. Clear roads plus dry conditions should equal greater speeds – a sensible suggestion – but this was pumped with derision by the presenter. “When was the last time you saw a dry empty road then!?!”

Erm, how about 3am most mornings?

The cynical ‘speed kills’ argument has been spoon-fed to and eagerly guzzled by legions of unquestioning glassy-eyed Luddites. Championed by the last bunch of Westminster Crooks™ (v1997), it was merely a means to justify infesting Britain with the flashing spawn of Gatsonides. A sexed-up viewpoint which bore little relation to bona fide RTA statistics. A cheap and easy way to raise wonga in the hallowed name of road safety, and appease those impotent little car-hating Stalinists and their box-room lobby groups.

As more and more knuckle-scrapers rang in, my headache became more severe. You really would have thought that 99% of these creatures had misheard the question. Instead of ‘should the motorway speed limit be raised’ they seemed to be reacting to ‘should motorists be given carte blanche to eat your children as a cheap alternative to meat’. The frenzy of stupidity was genuinely frightening – akin to a medieval witch-burning – only these buggers have the vote…

I nearly succumbed to temptation, but I knew I would be reduced to their level – and anyway, I don’t agree with motorway speed limits. I don’t agree with most road traffic legislation, because it is nearly always championed by the ‘I don’t drive but…’ brigade. Finger pointers like Barbara Castle who couldn’t drive and yet set the ‘temporary’ 70mph national speed limit. During, it must be noted, a period of crossply tyres, single-circuit brakes, four-speed gearboxes, static seatbelts, non-collapsible steering columns and no crumple zones. In an era when an airbag was how most constituents referred to their well-upholstered MP.

I know I’m in a single-figured minority, but give me common sense, personal responsibility, practical experience and judgement every time.

In fact, rather than discuss speed limits, instead I would like to discuss these compulsive rentagobs – people with no relevant experience who disseminate their half-baked views via whichever medium chooses to indulge them. It’s like me saying that all sharp knives should be banned, so therefore, brain surgeons should instead use spoons. On the subject of brain surgery, I am a card-carrying ignoramus so will not pollute the air with my smacking chops nor waste the time of better informed individuals.

Heck, I even remember when Jaguar had an XK commercial banned, by the mysterious Advertising Standards Agency, for ‘glorifying speed’. And all because it was a bit blurry.

Anyway, I digress.

As motor cars are in the business of transportation they move and this measured movement – a specified distance divided by a specified time – is speed. Not necessarily speeding, which is the default setting for these hysterical ninnies. Given that all cars move during their service lives, it is therefore extremely rare to have a car accident which doesn’t entail distance, time and thus the s-word. Even bumping into your own wheelie bin could be interpreted or ‘sexed up’ as having ‘speed as a significant contributing factor’ by undesirables of a sinister bent.

The notion that I, a fairly competent and experienced driver, should be subjected to the same speed limitations as an elderly spinster with a nervous twitch and a Nissan Micra, is unrefined nonsense. Blanket limits pander to the lowest common denominator. None of us are equal – I won’t bother to return to my brain surgery analogy – and yet the worst drivers set the standard, when really they shouldn’t be driving.

Who would I ban? People who fixate their gaze on the speedo in the miscomprehension it makes them a good and thus ‘safe’ driver. People who drive around despite the inch of dust on their unmolested indicator stalk, with a complete lack of awareness, a permanent claim on the motorway’s middle-lane, utter ignorance of their vehicle’s dimensions, an automatic-only driving licence. People who blind oncoming traffic with full-beam headlamps, take 30 seconds to respond to a changing traffic light, drive on trunk roads at 45mph and believe that being followed by a vast cloud of blue smoke is normal… Anyone with a ‘I’d rather cycle’ sticker in their rear window (why don’t you then) or who regard the car as just a means of getting from A to B.

Nope, I certainly won’t be getting out from under here, either until all this nonsense is over or my radio’s batteries have died.

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