RUMBLINGS. EXHAUST NOTES, May 1928

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36

I wonder whether the standard of driving is steadily degenerating, or whether it is simply that the number of cars on the road being steadily on the increase, the proportionate.number of bad drivers is therefore steadily growing ? Whatever the cause, the fact remains that bad driving is far more prevalent now than ever before, and it is not the lady driver who is the sole culprit. I have now definitely made up my mind as to who is the worst driver on the road. (Boy, bring vitriol, and charge my pen.)

The worst driver is undoubtedly the elderly owner of a cheap family car, out for his week-end jaunt with the family all on board.

This type of ” driver” knows next to nothing about his car, seems incapable of changing gear correctly, never makes signals until he has commenced his proposed movement, and is guaranteed to lose his head in any sudden emergency.

Many are the diatribes directed at the modern youth who drives a sports car or fast motor cycle. But this driver is perfectly safe at all speeds, is thoroughly accustomed to fast travelling, knows to an inch in what distance he can pull up, and is possessed of a cool head and steady nerve.

The elder man is not of the mechanical bent, and only uses his car for pure” utility” purposes. He is getting on in life, and naturally his nerves and quick thinking are not what they were, and while he himself is slower in determining his moves, his car is also slower in answering than the sports car with its better acceleration, better braking, and light steering.

My opinion as to the elderly mart being the world’s worst driver received added confirmation the last weekend, when I was at the wheel of an Austin seven, and thus limited in my speed.

I found myself in a bunch of vehicles, and immediately in front of me, heading the procession, was a typical eKample of the man I mean. He was tooling along the narrow, winding road at such a speed that he held up every one behind, while the road wound about too much for safe overtaking. I rolled along in his dust for two miles in this way, then we came to a steepish hill. We slowly ascended, then, nearly, at the summit, he waved me on and began to change down. As I prepared to pass, acting on his signal, a large saloon appeared over the brow and glided down the hill, and next thing I had to stand on everything because the boob in front had missed his change and came to a full stop. He caused five cars to pull up dead on the steepest part of the hill, and. an unfortunate motor cyclist ran into the back of one lower down, and fell off.

In the next three miles I had precisely the same experience, this time with one of those horrible fabric saloons of about io h.p. Again he came to rest, and again only my brakes saved my wings. These are only isolated examples still fresh in my mind of the sort of thing one is continually coming across. Drivers stopping dead without sign: drivers signalling one thing and doing another ; drivers making signals whose import is unknown to man ; and drivers being thoroughly dangerous at a modest twenty-five miles per hour.

It is not the sports car which is a menace at fifty, but the cheap family model, which is almost uncontrollable at that speed. These are the drivers who should be trapped, and fined, and imprisoned, and e).ecuted ; and these, unfortunately, are the type of men who sit as magistrates on the bench talking balderdash about what they don’t understand in the least—i.e., modern motor cars and motor cycles.

The foremost sporting event of the past rponth was undoubtedly the Essex Six Hour Race, and a very pleasant day’s sport it was. I have great sympathy with the Mercedes’ people, who truly had the worst possible luck with their car. The Mere. had been lapping the course at over eighty during practice, and to have it burst on the second lap must have been a very bitter pill for Capt. Miller. Indeed, many, including myself, think he did wrong in blinding a cold engine on its first lap, and the general opinion is that the car would have run perfectly if it had been more gently warmed up.

I was particularly interested in the Merc.’s performance as, when I saw it at the start, I realised it was the car we tested last month, which had not been specially prepared for the race, and had covered some 25,000 miles without being even decarbonised!

Dr. Benjafield has made an interesting suggestion with regard to the organisation of the Essex Race from the spectators’ point of view. As he points out, following the race was most difficult from the Grand Stand and the Paddock, as the bridge and the other board obscured the numbers exhibited on the hill. The doctor’s own suggestion is that the position of the board be improved, and that the cars should be credited with their full number of laps at the start, the number decreasing lap by lap, so that the exact state of the race can be instantly seen.

The number of laps start could be exhibited over the car number, so that spectators could easily reckon the net distance covered.

Altogether an excellent suggestion.

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