Monday, 28 December 2009

Looking for directions.

I have many memories of childhood because I was sober for most of it. I remember when my father had a Hillman Imp. He drove it fast, my brother and myself were in the back without seatbelts (they weren't compulsory and booster seats had not been invented, yet we survived!). I don't remember which of us thought it might be fun to open the rear window - an unusual feature of the Imp - but I do know that neither of us were old enough to appreciate that with the front windows open, opening the rear screen would make maps and directions and anything else made of paper disappear in an instant. Yes, we were whacked for it but it was so funny it was worth the walloping.

My father once had a metallic green Cortina mk IIE estate. If he'd kept it, he'd be richer now. But that's another story.

Another enduring memory is of my mother's navigational skills. This involved sitting in silence and staring at a map. Once in a while she'd speak.

Mother: "You should have turned left."

Father: "When?"

Mother: "Back there."

Father: "^%&&%$£"^&*!"£$%^^&!"

My mother had many names. Most of them were names we'd get walloped for saying aloud.

Nowadays we have cellphones and satnav so nobody ever need get lost again. Okay, you can't use your phone when driving but the satnav thing just sits on the dashboard. That can't be a problem.

On the phone-and-driving ban, I am in that quantum state of being simultaneously for and against it. Even handsfree. I've been a passenger in a car where the driver was chatting on the phone (handsfree) and talking to me and all I could think was 'Watch the road, you stupid bastard'. Then again, the old 'driving without due care and attention' law covers it. We didn't need a specific one for phones.

Satnav, though, can't possibly be a problem. Unlike my mother, it will tell you when a turn is coming, not when you've missed it. You can turn off the sound and just use it as a moving map. It saves carrying maps for everywhere you want to go and utterly destroys map-reading ability in the young but not in me so sod them. If it gives nonsensical instructions, pretend my mother is navigating and ignore them. Easy.

However, the Righteous have some spurious research designed to take your satnavs away.

Fears that sat-nav devices may pose a risk to motorists follow research which showed that 78 per cent of crashes were caused by driver inattention.

78 per cent were caused by driver inattention. Phones, nagging spouses, screaming kids, short-skirted wenches at the side of the road, tiredness and so on, are now all the fault of satnavs. As Rolf Harris used to say - can you see what it is yet?

According to the same survey, carried out by Direct Line insurance, one driver in 50 said sat-nav had either caused or nearly caused an accident.

One in fifty. Even then, that assumes that no driver in this country, in this day and age, would try to blame someone or something else for their very expensive crash. Again - can you see what it is yet?

It's the smoking ban. It's the alcohol controls. It's the beating down of meat, salt and fat in foods. It's the same technique again and again and again. I can't see why satnav is the target here apart from the research funding and the general love of banning things. It's on the way though.

They can't control our movements if we have maps of the whole country. Ask East Germany about that one. Or ask T-Mobile. Based in Germany, they have seen it all before.

Well, here it comes again.


Anonymous said...

Ah, but the wonderful Galileo satnavs will solve the problem of crashing. It's only the evil US GPS system that makes people crash

Angry Exile said...

78% of crashes caused by inattention? But... but... but... but I thought that all crashes were caused by speeding. Well, apart from the ones caused by people who had a drink the night before or sparked up a fag, obviously. Now they're telling us that a substantial majority of crashes are down to twats who don't pay attention to what's going on around them? Surely not.

Mark Wadsworth said...

I think Angry Exile nails it, if you add together all % of accidents ascribed to all the things on his list, we're getting close to explaining two or three hundred per cent of all accidents.

(Much as I hate to admit it, short-skirted wenches do distract me. So I can see a coalition of feminists, Muslims and road safety campaigners coming up with a solution to that!)

subrosa said...

Completely off topic but I see the Adam Smith Institute has come on your side:

I wouldn't need a sat nav if the map producers didn't ensure every destination of mine was exactly in the crack of the book.

Gareth said...

I've only seen two instances of satnav induced inattention. Both were pillocks looking at the screen not where they were going - presumably reprogramming the satnav on the fly. This is an issue of wrong priorities by those drivers not the fault of satnav. They could just as easily have been rummaging around for a cd, trying to put the heater on, etc, etc.

With a Parliament filled to the gills with failed solicitors is it any wonder the answer to any issue is always 'More Law'. It's a simple world they live in. Law = Good. More Law = Better. The notions of bad law or too much law never enters their minds.

Biggest distraction on the roads? All the superflous signs, bollards and information they throw at us.

Think about satnav like this - it is a nanny. Just like the nanny state it gives people an endless stream of instructions. There are a minority of people who have followed those instructions off cliffs or into rivers. There are lorry drivers who blindly follow the instructions into narrow roads they then get stuck in. I therefore deduce that nannying is dangerous because it makes people switch their brains off. They take far less responsibility for their own actions. Less nannying, pronto!

Subrosa - Get a ring bound atlas then there is no crack.(Though everywhere I want to go still tends to be on the edge of a page.)

Leg-iron said...

Mark W - it applies to everything these days. Add up the percentage of deaths caused by smoking, drinking, obesity and so on, and we're all dead now. So are a lot more people than are currently alive. They must be adding in figures from another planet.

Subrosa - I note that article has one comment, from an antismoker, with the usual format. 'I've never met you and never will but your smoking offends me anyway'.

There's a rant building up on that subject. A big one.

subrosa said...

Now there's an idea Gareth, I will.

LI, I thought that may just stir something within you, which I see it has done. Well done!

Trooper Thompson said...

"On the phone-and-driving ban, I am in that quantum state of being simultaneously for and against it..."

Exactly my feelings. I am certain that driving whilst speaking on a mobile is dangerous (most people can't even walk down the street safely while on a mobile), but don't see why the old law doesn't cover it.

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