Queen of the Road

The other morning, an Expert was pontificating on the radio. Nothing unusual in that, nor even his remarks raising my blood pressure beyond beeling. But I just couldn’t credit how, with such a background, he could show such an attitude! He was complaining how, when someone here has to relinquish their driving licence on medical grounds, they cannot drive at all; not ever, not anywhere. In the States, however, a person might be allowed limited use; driving in their local area or during daylight. This speaker wasn’t called Jeremy; he was, in fact, a representative of a major, motoring organisation. Yet, he believed someone permitted limited use of a car would meekly abide by their restrictions! Oh aye? Someone allowed to drive only in daylight will always be safe between sunrise and sunset? On a summer night, the moon full in a cloudless sky, the delineation can be sharper and clearer than on a grey, dreich morning in November.

And, as for keeping to one’s locality. What happens when roadworks, or what the police euphemistically refer to as an incident, results in a diversion? This can add miles to a journey, for example, reaching Oban via Inverness. Even down here, when the A75 has iced up or yet another lorry has waltzed off at a bend, scattering goodness knows what wreckage in its wake, the trip from here to Stranraer will include several Royal Burghs and a scenic jaunt along the shores of Luce Bay. Quite an expedition for any old buffer who’s been limited to a brief wheech from say, up the Glebe, straight along to Stranraer Harbour and the adjacent Morrison’s!

In other words, Mr. Motoring Expert showed the same mind set as most of the UK. Once aged 17, it is everyone’s right to have their bum welded to the driving seat and their hands to the steering wheel of a car. Anyone told to increase their exercise and fitness regime, drives up to the local gym to spend an hour or so, going nowhere on the treadmill, rather than just enjoying a long walk in the fresh air. And many whose abilities don’t come up to scratch blithely ignore such niceties as the driving test or insurance altogether, bumbling on, regardless. Apart from those who refuse to drive at night, I know folk who cannot tackle motorways, even some who, despite the existence of atlases and satnavs, don’t know the difference between the A75 and the M6! And these are all folk who have passed their driving test. Well, they say they have!

If we were discussing qualifications for medicine or catering, such incompetence and mendacity would be considered downright dangerous. But driving! That’s different! Surely, that’s a basic human right? Without it, how on earth, can folk be expected to access their work? The health centre? Enjoy a night out?

Prise yourself from your current mind set for a moment; even if it’s leather lined, with four wheel drive. There are some adults in the UK who aren’t allowed to drive and abide by that ruling. I actually still have my driving licence. Don’t panic! I only have it because no-one has asked for it and it comes in handy as an identity card. But, when I was told I should no longer drive, THAT WAS THAT!

Granted, I have a motorist Husband, but, since he works, for much of the time, Mr. Dog and I have to make our own way in the world, or, at least, around the town. Not always easy, especially in winter! Next time you increase your carbon footprint, driving down town just to buy a loaf, ponder a few points. Has such an errand ever been scuppered because some numptie has blocked a pavement with a pressure washer, ladder and a scattering of cones; then waltzed off to another assignment? Or have you had an essential excursion stymied because, and this is a favourite with our utilities, some big boys have dug a big hole in a wee pavement, then run away? And I haven’t even mentioned our delightful climate, tempered by the Gulf Stream. In other words, it might be mild but it’s frequently chucking much of the Atlantic on the heads of myself and Mr. Dog!

Mind you, what with obstruction indicators and talking satnavs, perhaps it’s time I got back into the driving seat? After all, as I’ve already mentioned, I still have that licence.

© Charlotte Bennie 2010