Spent a few happy hours on and around the M5 motorway today.
It was dark and wet most of the time – the type of rain windscreen wipers struggle to cope with effectively. The drops were either just too slow for proper wiping or just too fast for the occasional program.
That’s all we need – mischievous rain…
We had some fun with the tame starlings, sparrows and wagtails who shared our impromptu picnic in the carpark at the motorway services. The birds were highly inquisitive and unconcerned at being close to humans, cars and lorries.
The chirping and chattering birds seemed a lot brighter than many of the frowning Homo sapiens as they emerged crumpled from their tin cans to stretch and smoke.
Motorways are great when there are hardly any other users about, but more challenging in poor weather.
We negotiated large lorries with weak lighting suddenly looming large through the haze, people on phones pulling out without warning, van drivers rubbing their eyes like they’d just woken up while their vehicles swerved across several lanes, strangely attired motorcyclists, folk that don’t switch their car headlights on in the day, however dark it is, because they’re trying to cut down on their electricity bills, students driving with one hand while eating a baguette with the other and big German saloons slicing through the mist and spray at speeds over a hundred miles an hour.
Sooz calls cars ‘killing machines’ and can’t understand why people drive at silly speeds, especially in wet, misty, low-light conditions. She wonders how they can risk other people’s lives.
She hates it when cars ‘tailgate’ each other at high speeds, as it is clear they couldn’t stop in time if something happened.
Obviously many people think it’s okay to go fast, but certain drivers and particular vehicles are more likely to be overtaking and going well over reasonable limits.
More men than women seem to be involved, and drivers of bigger and more powerful vehicles are the worst culprits.
Nobody thinks they’ll crash.
But it happens.
Everyone decides their next meeting, delivery, drop or call is important enough for them to risk everything by rushing.
Bosses push their drivers to go faster and expect results.
After all, as we’re told constantly;
TIME IS MONEY!
But if you think about that phrase, it is meaningless.
Time isn’t anything but time.
Money is what the economic system uses to manage and control human affairs.
Don’t believe the hype.
Car manufacturers make vehicles that go faster than speed limits virtually everywhere. So why is that? Surely the makers are complicit if not majorly responsible for some of this behaviour?
Think about the adverts, the sponsorship of sporting, cultural and charity events, the tie-ins with the oil companies. Cars are the most visible everyday signifier of social status and rank.
Automobiles are the prizes for conforming to the dominant business model – the better your car, the higher you are up the pyramid.
Car manufacturers sell status. People try to show this by having more powerful and faster cars than others.
Overtaking isn’t just about driving;
It’s often a political gesture as well.
I’ve been thinking about cars.
Cars are all around us; we go to work, we go to school and we go to university in cars. We desire cars and we hate cars. We watch fast cars and swop cars. We make love and give birth in cars. We go on holiday in cars; we show off in cars and we show our status in cars. We come of age in cars and rage in cars. We drive petrol, diesel and electric cars. We wash and we polish cars. We buy and sell cars. We race in cars and we crash in cars. We live in cars and we can’t live without cars; but we also die in cars.
Have you ever wondered about cars?
Have you noticed drivers of particular cars drive in certain ways? I’ve added pix of a Lexus, a BMW, an Audi, a Mercedes Benz and a Range Rover because lots of drivers of these vehicles seem to think they own the roads and deserve special treatment. Obviously not all the drivers of these marques do this, but plenty do. Is it because they are feel they’ve spent enough to bully other road users, are they seduced by the manufacturers or are they just prats or a combination of all three? Please comment and let me know your feelings.
We’re so used to cars we don’t often ask too many questions. Questions like; why are so many kids killed and injured by cars? Why are cars expensive? Why do cars cost so much to repair? Why do cars go so fast? Why do cars break down? Why are cars the way they are? Could cars be different? Could they be faster? Could they be safer? Why are cars shiny? Will there always be cars?
Cars are the consumer article par excellence, yet when you stop and think about them there’s some very strange stuff going on with these automobiles.
For a start, cars kill pedestrians. But if you think about this for a minute, you’ll realise the shape of cars makes them efficient killing machines. Cars could have soft inflatable fronts which didn’t cause so much damage to humans, but they don’t. And another thing, cars scratch really easily – why’s that? It would be simple for car manufacturers to make them with finishes that didn’t scratch, but then they wouldn’t need repainting so often, if at all. Same for little dents – cars could have surfaces that absorbed impacts – but again, the manufacturers couldn’t sell body parts – and the afterparts market is worth billions.
Deaths by vehicle accidents
UK 2009 – 2,222
USA 2009 – 33,808
Australia 2011 – 1291
Holland 2009 – 640
Brazil 2009 – 37,694
Germany 2009 – 3657
Russia 2009 – 26,567
Spain aren’t telling 🙂
South Africa 2011 – 13,802
Total Global 2007 – 1,230,000
According to the World Health Organization, road traffic accidents caused an estimated 1.23 million deaths worldwide in the year 2007; with the average rate being 20.8 deaths per 100,000 people, 30.8 for males, 11.0 for females. 90% of deaths occur in low and middle income countries, with South-East Asia and Africa having the highest rates.
WARNING – THIS IS NOT SATIRE
The police chief who co-ordinates the growing network of more than 5,000 roadside cameras, which records the whereabouts of 16m vehicles, said the network was patchy and left “large gaps in coverage in various parts of the country”.
Police made the admissions as they won a FOI tribunal to keep secret the locations of the the cameras, arguing that disclosure would allow criminals to evade detection.
For the past 10 years, police chiefs have pushed the expansion of the network, saying the cameras have become one of their most valuable tools to catch criminals in investigations ranging from terrorism to children dropping litter.
The cameras, located on motorways and main roads and at airports and town centres, automatically record the number plates and fronts of cars, noting the time, date and location of the images taken.
Each camera, be it fixed on a pole, gantry or mounted in a police car, can log up to 3,600 images an hour.
The images are transmitted to a central database in Hendon, north London, which holds more than 7bn records of the movement of stretching back six years. Police hope the database will be able to record up to 50m licence plates a day.
The roads were empty when Linda Catt and her father drove their white Citroën Berlingo into London on a quiet Sunday morning. They could not have known they were being followed.
But at 7.23am on 31 July 2005, the van had passed beneath an automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) camera in east London, triggering an alert: “Of interest to Public Order Unit, Sussex police”. Within seconds Catt, 50, and her 84-year-old father, John, were apprehended by police and searched under the Terrorism Act.
After filing a complaint, the pair, neither of whom have criminal records, discovered that four months earlier, a Sussex police officer had noticed their van “at three protest demonstrations” and decided, apparently on that basis, it should be tracked. The two anti-war campaigners were not the only law-abiding protesters being monitored on the roads.
Officers have been told they can place “markers” against the vehicles of anyone who attends demonstrations using the national ANPR data centre in Hendon, north London, which stores information on car journeys for up to five years.
A national apparatus has been created for dealing with so-called “domestic extremists”, a category of political activist that has no legal basis.
Working under the auspices of the Association of Chief Police Officers, three barely-known police units receive £9m to help monitor protesters across the country.