29 Sep 2004

There was a poll commissioned recently to try and discover whether drivers still talked on their mobile phones whilst mobile in their vehicles. For those who missed the introduction of the new law to ban drivers physically holding a mobile phone as they motored along, which came into effect about five months ago, it does allow for the operating of hands-free kits. There is an on-the-spot fine to be levied at any driver caught talking or texting whilst they are in control of a moving vehicle, the idea being to dissuade people from holding a phone and a conversation whilst changing gear half-way around a busy roundabout and operating the indicator with a knee or a chin.

According to the poll only 35 percent of those asked have been deterred from breaking this law by the thirty pound fine. 80 percent said that they still regularly see a multitude of fellow road inhabitants use the phone whilst in motion. All of which goes to show that the ban has not been as effective as the police might have liked. To be honest I am not concerned with these results as all my attention has been employed elsewhere. I am more concerned with an emergent phenomenon whose existence can be directly linked to this ban and some people’s interpretation of it.

I spend a lot of my time driving around the small and diddy country lanes of Cornwall. You know the ones. High of hedge, narrow of girth and blind of corner. Such lanes are precarious enough even when you are familiar with them but have now become unpredictably lethal all thanks to the new phenomenon of "Law Abiding Mobile Phone Using Car Drivers" or LAM-PHUCERS.

Their phone rings and they pull over to answer it, as per the law. Now, I can only speculate as to what occurs in the cerebral vacuum of these motherfuckers to enable them to be satisfied with their decision to leave their car parked in the blind bit of a blind corner, with only the single token wheel on the grassy verge to distinguish them from medically insane people who actually might be found parked in the middle of a road. I have never had time to let my true feelings be known to these people as all my concentration is fully and rightly employed in making frantic evasive manoeuvres to steer my car around theirs. By the time I am safe and in a position to vent spleen it is too late, dammit. Turning their emergency lights on does not help in anyway either. It is too much Letter and not enough Spirit.

On the subject of lunacy, consider those vans and lorries that have stickers on their rears which casually ask you,"How’s my driving?" There is also a phone number to call, I imagine either to vent spleen or to slosh praise upon the vehicle’s driver. Surely these are now redundant and should be erased as to actually call the number you would be using your phone and therefore guilty of erroneous driving practices yourself. No, you cannot write it down and phone later either. Anyway, you are probably going to end up in the ditch after bouncing off the back of the suddenly braking lorry as your drive in very close proximity to it in order to read the phone number which some clever bastard has produced in font size 12.

My brilliant idea is to have a similar sticker on the boot of my van and when some officious twat calls the number to report my swerving and general dangerous driving, I shall answer my mobile, without pulling over, stick my hand out of the window, give them the finger and tell them over the phone that they are total fucking wankers.

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