Driverless cars? I see them every day

Fleets of driverless lorries will be trialled on Britain’s motorways next year, we have been warned.

I say “warned” because the idea is so obviously insane. No doubt a computer has predicted that all will be well, global temperatures will fall, everyone will save money  and the economy will blossom. Terrific. And if anything goes wrong we can always blame Brexit.

Is the country being run by idiots, or is it just me? Ok, I know. It’s me.

In my half a century of driving, I have (at the time of writing) not injured anyone, unless you count the time my mother bumped her head when I braked too sharply. So I guess my methods can’t be too bad. Or am I just lucky?

I think I am lucky, because I have been able to exercise a skill I enjoy during a period when cars became reliable and safe and there was some freedom on the roads – in other words, before the road safety industry and irresponsible pressure groups like Brake came to power and we got ridiculously low speed limits, big–brother enforcement cameras and were encouraged to drive more and more slowly while being distracted to a greater and greater degree.

Will we get driverless cars? I think we have them already. I drive behind them almost every day. There may be someone sitting in the driver’s seat, but they aren’t driving. They’re just allowing the car to process along at a snail’s pace without paying any attention to the skills they should be employing – being in the right gear, anticipating danger, taking the opportunity to overtake where it’s safe to do so, making progress as quickly as is reasonable (which used to be standard police advice in the good old days).

The argument is that this non-driving makes the road safer. But it doesn’t. Let’s take Aberdeenshire, for example. They’re introducing a whole raft of measures designed to make motoring more miserable, including mobile cameras and 20mph as the norm in “all major settlements”.

A recent study (try to control your excitement) had found that “drivers across the north-east still see speeding, dangerous driving and reckless behaviour behind the wheel as acceptable”. This is such obvious nonsense that anyone with an ounce of brain would ignore it. Can you imagine anyone saying: “Yes, I think dangerous driving is acceptable”?

But no, the police and highways authorities have to act, because so many people are dying on the roads. Really? Well no, actually, there’s a 50% drop on averages taken a decade ago.

As an experienced driver I suggest we ditch cameras, raise speed limits to a sensible level and concentrate on prosecuting drivers who are drunk, drugged, on their mobile phone, changing a CD or simply not paying attention. Because those are the reasons – together with falling asleep – for nearly all fatal accidents.

Speeding can also be a factor (the true percentage is surprisingly low), but speeding is not exceeding the speed limit: it is driving dangerously fast for the conditions.

Speed cameras do not catch dangerous drivers. Or anyone else worth catching. If they didn’t rake in the cash, they would be thrown away tomorrow. Everything else is an attempt to mislead the public, and I have to say it’s been pretty successful.