Thursday, 17 July 2014

Testing Britain's Worst Drivers: Crash Course

This was a programme on ITV last night.

And it was absolutely brilliant!

I'm surprised I haven't read more about it today.  The Radio Times have a listing on it and there was a brief discussion on Pistonheads but apart from that - nothing.

ITV don't even have anything on it apart from on their watch-again service.

There have been many shows in the past - such as "Britain's Worst Driver" - that have shown ordinary people who don't care about how they drive.  The shows go on to demonstrate how bad these individuals are and hopefully cure them.

This show last night felt like it was going to be one of those.  That's OK - I like those shows.

It was narrated by Jamie Theakston - a stalwart of narrating motorway cop shows and the like.

But this had a twist.

The first poor driver (poor as in "bad" not as in "unfortunate") was Jason, a fancy-dress shop owner who was aggressive on the road and ignored red traffic lights and speed limits:
His friend's expression says it all.
There was plenty of footage of him whizzing around Blackpool in his blue BMW Z4 breaking rules of the road and traffic laws.
The show claimed that the most accident-prone drivers tend to be men aged 35 to 50 who drive blue BMWs.  A perfect match.
Anyway, Jason was taken to a test-track and told to drive a Mini around while sat next to an instructor.  The instructor had him calmed down and he was driving perfectly safely.
Before I continue, I would actually recommend you watch this show - as previously mentioned it is on the ITVPlayer, but if you aren't going to, or it's past ITVPlayer time or you are abroad somewhere, then I will go on...
The footage from inside the Mini looked a bit like they were sat in a driving simulator.  But the footage from outside showed the car moving around the track matching what was happening inside. 
Must have been a camera-effect then.
Anyway, they came to some traffic-light controlled roadworks and Jason came to a stop at the red light - as you or I would but as he previously may not have.
The lights turn green and he set's off, slowly and steadily.
He then stalls.
Or, more precisely - it is stalled for him - but he doesn't know this.
As he's fiddling trying to restart the car, you see a blue BMW Z4 heading straight for his door.  The instructor yells "Look out!", Jason looks out and has the shock of his life.
It turns out he was in a simulator that he had been driving for several hours so it felt to him like he was really driving.  It was particularly realistic because his driving was controlling a remote-controlled Mini around the test-track and that Mini has a series of cameras in it to display what was being seen on the simulator.
The BMW Z4 (carrying Jason's number plate) was remotely driven into the Mini at high speed to show what happens when people jump red lights.
He was left shaking.  He was then taken down to see what had happened to the remote cars and learned that Mini occupants may well have been killed but the Z4 driver (ie him) would probably have survived - with a maximum 14 year jail sentence and the knowledge that he'd killed someone.
The second poor driver, Laura, a beauty student, spent all her driving time being distracted by doing make-up, eating and drinking, playing on her Smartphone etc.  She had a white Nissan Juke and the footage of her in it looked downright dangerous - certainly illegal. 
She's pictured with her mother but she was so bad, I'm surprised her mother or anyone else would want to be driven by her.  I know I wouldn't.
I'm not convinced that the curing worked as well here.  For a starter, the car that was meant to be hers was an old, white Honda HR-V.
Then, after a demonstration of what happens when you are given distractions while driving, she was on her best behaviour and concentrating on what she was doing - so when the distracted Honda came across the road towards her, she avoided it and didn't know that it had then gone on to hit some carefully placed parked cars.
If they had had a head-on collision it would have been unforgetable for her.
As it was, she was shown the damage that the Honda had done, specifically to the back door of an Escort "where a small child could have been killed if it was strapped into a car-seat in there".
She did claim to have been affected by it and stated how she regretted her previous driving and vowed to change.  Hopefully she was telling the truth.
Both drivers were revisited a month later and their respective passengers both commented on how they had changed and their driving was noticably improved.
So, an excellent, thought-provoking show - catch it if you can.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Ditch the Peugeot

MSN seem very excited this week by this story of a crash involving Jeremy Clarkson & James May in a couple of Peugeots.
MSN summise that it must have happened while filming a new series of Top Gear.
Well, DUH!!
I actually knew that they were filming a new series because Jeremy mentioned it recently on something he was on that I can't remeber what it was.
Given the nature of Top Gear, this crash may well have been planned anyway.  Clearly nobody was hurt.
Unlike in this crash story that I also read this week.  It is in the Liverpool Echo and involves a three-car collision between a Rolls, a Nissan Navara and something called a "Daimler Mercedes".  Not sure what a "Daimler Mercedes" would be - I know that the two companies were once one and the same at board level but I don't believe they ever produced anything with that name.  Besides, Daimler the corporate entity was always separate to Daimler the car manufacturer which did happen to be named after the founder of Daimler the corporate entity.
But I digress.
Without any knowledge of what actually happened here, I blame the Navara driver.
It looks like the Rolls hasn't come off too well - but it should be repairable. 
Two of three cars were wedding cars so I bet there were a few frantic phone calls being made this weekend.
With hindsight, should have gone for something like this:

Monday, 7 July 2014

Commonplace Rarities

I saw a Mark I Cavalier the other day.
It made me smile.
Not because I ever owned one.
Or even knew someone who owned one.
Possibly because it reminded me of my childhood.
This story in The Telegraph got me thinking about cars from that era.  Not for the first time, but today's post will be a bit more Hegarty-ish.
Hegarty are an insurance company that seem to specialise in classic cars but also produce a magazine for classic car enthusiasts.  I always thought Hegarty were American.  I was right.  They usually have an article at the weekend on the Fox News car page listing 5 or 10 classics in some context.  But they also have a British arm.
Lead story at this time is "London to Lisbon in Little George", the story of the triennial (happens every three years) London to Lisbon Rally organized by the Historic Endurance Rallying Organisation (HERO) with Hagerty International as both sponsor and competitor in a barn-found 1930 Austin Ulster (Little George).  The article is interesting but feels like it was written by a Year 7 student doing a "What I did in the Summer Holidays" essay.  He must have been a bit behind with his homework too because the Rally happened in Spring 2013.
Anyway, as The Telegraph article points out, Hegarty are also sponsoring The Festival of the Unexceptional, subtitled, "Concours de l'ordinaire" inviting you to "Celebrate Your Mundane Classic".  A car show for once mass-produced cars that you wouldn't look twice at twenty years ago but are now virtually disappeared from our roads.
I would love to go but it's just too far away.
Probably not welcome would be the Top Gear Team. 

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Holey Unacceptable

I was on the Mail Motoring site yesterday and found this picture which I though would be worth a mention in my Blog:
It is from this story about an Octogenarian woman in Bel Air who flipped her Honda then posed with her husband for some selfies.  The picture is even more amusing thanks to the gentleman's belt height and a woman in the background dressed as a flame.  Nobody was hurt and they are obviously a game couple.
So I went back to the Mail today with a bit more time on my hands to do something on that story when I found an even funnier one.
This is it.
It is about this man, Robert Goodwill MP, seen here posing with a pot-hole app. 
And potholes are relevant to the story.
For he has come out and said on LBC Radio (and he's even got it on his own Website) that:
More potholes are appearing on Britain’s roads because the recovering economy means more people have jobs and are driving to work
Roads are also suffering more “wear and tear” because people were also buying more things and so more “goods are travelling around the country"
He also suggested that more potholes would appear as the economy recovers and more vehicles take to the road.
Ludicrous.  He wants us to believe that the poor state of the roads is down to the Government's economic successes.
We are getting more pot-holes as a result of the wettest Winter in years combined with poor maintenance and cheaper options used when building the roads in the first place.  Government cutbacks to local council funding has just exacerbated the situation.
Even the right-wing Mail readers attack the Government in the comments section of that story.
Mr Goodwill is, incidentally not "The Roads Minister" as The Mail call him, he is a Parliamentary Under-Secretary in the Department for Transport.
The Oldham Evening Chronicle in the old pot-hole story that I nicked that picture from also call him "The Roads Minister" - maybe that is what he tells journalists that he is.
One thing he definitely did tell the Oldham journalist is “Historically, we have underfunded road maintenance.”

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Elementary Dear Watson

A couple of my favourite sites today feature this car:
It is an Elemental RP1 which, as Autocar for one report, has been shown off ahead of an appearance at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Autocar describe it as a rival for the Vühl 05.  I see the logic there, the Vühl 05 is a two-seater track-day car that looks quite similar:
It also debuted at Goodwood last year.

Although, I see the RP1 as a two-seated version of the BAC Mono - a BAC Duo if you like:
BAC want to sell the Mono in America but I'm not sure if they realise that Mono is what Americans call Glandular Fever.
All three cars are similarly sized and all produce about 280bhp.  The BAC is built in Liverpool so gets my vote - the Elemental seems to be from Surrey while the Vühl is Mexican.  Cost-wise though, the Vuhl is a mere £60000 compared to the Mono's £110000 - a bit of clever pricing could be elementary in the Elemental's success.
Having said that - a proper windscreen would be nice too.