Roddy Graham: 5 August 2011 - Not a good week for driving
05 August 2011
Roddy Graham gives his predictions for the coming year
Driving has been in the news for all the wrong reasons this week. My triple-header starts with that uncontroversial character of stage and screen, one Jeremy Clarkson, who if he doesn't have enough to worry about with a rumoured move of a land-fill site in the Cotswolds to within viewing distance of his Edwardian pile has stirred yet another hornets nest by deliberately running out of juice - electric juice to be more precise.
Instead of chasing sandal-wearing environmentalists off his estate, he's been upsetting both Nissan and The Times. His antics even made the Jeremy Vine Show. In a staged-for-TV stunt, he deliberately drove a fully-charged Nissan Leaf for some distance before embarking on a trip to the seaside. The problem was that before he set off, he hadn't bothered fully-charging said vehicle and was filmed pushing it around the streets of Lincoln in search of a charging point. Bet he didn't try pushing it up the famous cobbled climb of Michaelgate to the cathedral! The Times claimed he set off with only a charge sufficient for a 30-odd mile journey. The paper had the previous week conducted a 99-mile test drive although the reporter apparently admitted to frayed nerves near the end!
The stunt probably makes for good Top Gear viewing but probably does not help the green cause just as a network of charging points have been installed at motorway service stations.
Probably more worrying still is the recent news that not only are the young binge drinking to the detriment of their health but also their lives. Just over six per cent of the 88,629 drivers stopped in June failed or refused to give a breath test, compared to 5.6% the same time last year. Although half a per cent up, the worrying statistic was that young drivers caught had risen by 15% when the actual number of tests conducted was 12% down. It appears that the 'Don't drink and drive' message may be starting to be ignored by young drivers - a worrying notion for the country as a whole and a cause for concern among fleets as young employees get behind the wheel of their first company car or use their own 'at work.' Not only is it time for government and the police to take note but for fleet managers to reinforce certain messages in their drivers' handbooks.
And lastly, one of my pet subjects, black holes. According to the latest statistics gather by the Institute of Advanced Motorists, one third of drivers have damaged their vehicles in potholes. In the IAM survey of 2600 drivers, 88% felt so strongly about the subject that filling potholes should be at the top of councils' 'to do' list. Faced with contracting budgets but expanding cracks in the roads, local councils are stuck between a rock and a hard face. Many seem to be resorting to painting nice circles and lines on our road surfaces but doing nothing about actually repairing the road damage.
As I said not a great week for driver news.
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