Wednesday 29 May 2024

Motor Mouth – April 2012

Here is my column from the April edition of The Local Herald. My topic of choice this month was distractions, and my piece is about just some of the many things which can distract people whilst driving. I hope you enjoy it!…

This is definitely an interesting topic. There are so many distractions that can be experienced whilst driving a car. Some are minor distractions and others far from it. Think about it. We have a significant number of accidents on the roads every year. Whilst some are undoubtedly down to there being an utter fruitcake behind the wheel, some must be down to perfectly capable drivers having momentary lapses of concentration. This month I am going to look at what may cause these lapses.

The first thing that springs to mind as a distraction is passengers. Some people will happily sit quietly in a car and let the driver get on with it. Then there are the music ‘flickers’ who cannot listen to the same song or radio station for more than 2.7 seconds. Then you have the co-pilots who take it upon themselves to direct you when you already know where to go, or explain how they would act differently if they were driving. If that’s how you feel, get in your own car and drive. These situations are annoying and I believe annoyed drivers are more likely to crash.

Children, however, are in a league of their own. I remember what it was like when I was a child. There were three of us, who got on with each other except when we were in the back seat of the car. At this point we became argumentative and a plain nuisance to my poor father who had steam coming out of his ears by this point. How we managed not to spend every family holiday down a grassy verge off the M6 is beyond me!

Another major distraction on our roads are other road users. Should some poor soul have the misfortune of finding the front wheel has fallen off his Rover as he trundles down the motorway at 50mph, as being a Rover it undoubtedly will, well we just have to have a look don’t we? Think about it, have you ever been in a minor traffic jam only to realise it has been caused by people to stop and look at the caravan on fire on the opposite side of the carriageway? I know I have.

I think the Satellite Navigation system is a wonderful idea. However I use mine merely as reference; I like to have a rough idea of where I am going so I do not solely rely on it. This is good, as it means I can place it out of the way so it doesn’t dominate my visibility. I see too many cars with them right in front of the driver, who has literally no idea where they are going, so are glued to the screen. And at night, you can tell which cars have a Sat Nav system in them by the sheer amount of light being emitted from the windows; it’s like driving past a lighthouse. This has to be a distraction for the driver, who practically needs sunglasses.

Music can be a distraction too. Every now and then you see a car, well hear it more like, with music blaring out at a million decibels. Fair enough, he may like that song. But will he hear sirens of emergency vehicles? No. Would he know if his Halfords backbox decided to drop off the car? Not likely. And the chances are he is so immersed in his music that he is paying little attention to what is going on around him.

And there you have it. Just some of the reasons even the best drivers could have an accident. If you can think of any more, feel free to let me know!


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