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On Speed & Distance

There is currently (late 2011) debate about the possible raising of the speed limit to 80 mph on motorways and perhaps other dual carriageways

Let me say at once: I like driving fast – I like driving very fast.

Can I do it in on the public highway?

Of course not.

Can I do it at all?

As I get older, probably not.

Unlike the venerable Stirling Moss, I shall not be racing cars into my 80s.

I would suggest that the competence of the average driver, the average by the way, is so low that high speeds are just not sensible AND we are told, the population is ageing.

Question: Have you ever been on an Autobahn?

I once took drove my 3500 Rover (manual, in black), not a slow vehicle, from Bremerhaven to Puttgarden, a distance of approx. 200 miles.

Of course, I was able to average 100mph (160kph) which reduced the journey to about 2.5 hours – great fun and very stimulating.

BUT, I was staggered by the number of low-flying Mercedes-Benz inter alia who went by (on the wrong side, to me) 30-40 mph faster.

And they take no prisoners. They have no compunction at all about sitting on your tail, examining the number plate, flashing their left-hand indicator, putting headlights on full beam, effectively yelling: Get out of the way!

It took about 4 miles to accustomise myself to spend nearly as much time looking rearwards as forwards.

So it’s all relative.

To me, the problem is not speed – it is running too closely behind the car in front, no matter what the speed.

I can feel intimidated by cars following me in 30mph limits, less than 2 car-lengths off my back-bumper.

Even worse when the same thing happens in a 50mph contra-flow on the motorway.

I don’t care that modern car technology has improved so it can stop on a sixpence (old coin, worth 2.5p).

I strongly suggest the Mark One Human Being has not not.

People seriously undersestimate how quickly they can stop

Some years ago, Top Gear or Fifth Gear ran a piece wherein drivers were asked to drive a car and leave it to the last moment before braking to avoid hitting a wall of cardboard boxes, painted to resemble bricks.

There were markers – 10, 20, 30 and 40 meters away from the wall. Drivers then approached the wall at 40 mph and would pass the markers of their choice before emergency-braking.

Almost without exception, they failed to do so without crashing into the boxwall, which of course made a lot of noise, but caused no damage.

When interviewed afterwards, all said it was a very frightening yet salutary experience; they undertook to leave more space from the car in front in future.

This ’emergency-stop’ should be part of the Driving Test.

In November, 2011, there was a 27-vehicle pile up on the M5.

What were they thinking of?

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