Monday, 17 October 2011
GEM and Mr Toad
Motorist is rather a Kenneth Grahame word. Toad would have been called a motorist. Hear him, chanting with uplifted voice, ‘The motor-car went Poop-poop-poop, As it raced along the road, Who was it steered it into a pond? Ingenious Mr Toad, O, how clever I am! How clever, how clever, how very clev----‘ until about two fields off he saw the chauffeur in his leather gaiters with two large rural policemen. ‘O my!’ he gasped as he panted along, ‘what an ASS I am! What a CONCEITED and heedless ass! Swaggering again! Shouting and singing songs again! Sitting still and gassing again! O my! O My! O my!’
What ho, then, for the Guild of Experienced Motorists. It describes itself as a breakdown operator and road safety charity, GEM Motoring Assist and doesn’t want the government to raise motorway speeds to 80mph. CEO, David Williams comments, “I simply cannot understand this. We believe it would be a disaster. There are very obvious road safety implications including drivers having less time to react at higher speeds. Given the road safety record is currently heading in the wrong direction, this alone is a good enough reason not to raise the limit. Then there’s the environmental aspect. An increase in speed will have a huge influence on our fuel consumption and emissions. It’s terrifying enough to be broken down on a Motorway with cars going at 70mph, imagine them all travelling almost 15% faster?”
Imagine. When GEM was established in 1932 as the Company of Veteran Motorists, its badge was a V with a little star in the middle, with a figure denoting how many years you had driven without an accident. Its mindset doesn’t seem to have changed much.
Alice would have known what to do.
GEM supports Alex Attwood, environment minister in Northern Ireland, who wants to cut the blood alcohol limit from 80mg/100ml to 50mg/100ml. It believes that such a result would, “… hopefully cut some ice with David Cameron and Nick Clegg and pave the way to reducing the allowable levels in the UK too.”
Mr Williams claims that reducing the limit would, “bring the UK into line with the rest of the EU and indeed much of the world.” However raising the speed limit on motorways would also, “bring the UK into line with the rest of the EU and indeed much of the world.” He can not press his rationale both ways. Also one wonders where he gets the notion that our road safety record is heading in the wrong direction. Everybody else agrees the opposite.
I am suspicious of lobbyists who claim measures would, “… save as many as 168 lives every year and prevent thousands of injuries.” They bandy phrases like, “overwhelming evidence,” when what they mean is “I know what’s good for you.” On the speed limit issue GEM claims, “… this move is being made to deflect the real issues that cause delays in journeys such as road works and potholes.”
O, how clever I am! How clever, how clever, how very clev----‘. ‘O my!, what an ASS I am! What a CONCEITED and heedless ass! Swaggering again! Shouting and singing songs again! Sitting still and gassing again! O my! O My! O my.
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GEM: The archetypal back seat driver. 1906 9HP Vauxhall experiment that did not get far.