February 28, 2006

Urban 4×4's

Writing about web page http://driving.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,22749-2060433,00.html

Drivers of gas-guzzling cars are to be penalised under measures being developed to tackle climate change.
Ministers are particularly keen to target the growing number of people who drive large 4X4s around cities and venture off tarmac only when parking on grass verges.

I couldn't agree more! Every morning on the drive to work I notice how many of these are on the roads. There should be strong disincentives in order to discourage people from driving 4×4's around town. Whilst there are environmental issues, this is not my main gripe against urban 4×4's. Simply, it is that they are an unnecessary and dangerous menace in cities. Having driven one recently, my assessment is that there is no added value to the driving experience round town (other than protecting you like a tank).

My main issues are that they reduce visibility for other drivers; are too big and bulky for many of our streets, and the people who drive them usually don't have the skill to manouvere well. A parent dropping off a small child for school or someone going to the supermarket in such a vehicle is simply not adding any value to the community.

They should be kept on on the drive for the long journey or off-road experience, which is what they were designed for.

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  1. +10 from me.

    28 Feb 2006, 12:53

  2. Chris May

    I find myself torn on this one. At an emotional level, I loathe 4×4s. They're ugly, wasteful, dangerous, and just not a very good solution to the problem of urban transport.

    But when I think about it rationally it gets more complicated. If I hate the wastefulness of a BMW M5, why don't I feel as angry about a Lotus Exige? Why am I not as concerned about the size of a Ford Galaxy as I am about a Suzuki Vitara? Why do I feel that a Honda CRV is dangerous to other road users, but I don't feel the same way about a 1980's volvo?

    I suppose part of the problem is that, whereas other vehicles may share one of the flaws of your average SUV, not many of them share all of them, but that seems like a poor rationalisation. At the very least I should dislike some cars (big, greedy, poor-pedestrian-safety ones) more than some SUVs (small economical safe ones). And yet I don't.

    For me it comes down to something much harder to defend, though. I don't like SUVs because the way they're marketed and used encapsulates a kind of wasteful consumerism, and a kind of selfishness that I personally find disagreeable;. But my personal preferences aren't really a sound basis to hang an objective argument from.

    28 Feb 2006, 13:01

  3. From a driving perspective I don't find SUVs any more of a problem than any other car on the road. There are plenty of buses, lorries and trucks, vans and MPVs all with the same or larger footprint that get in the way. The fuel efficiency arguement doesn't really hold up either, when a BMW X5 does over double the MPG of a Ferrari/Aston Martin and 1.5x that of an RS4 and about the same or slightly more than a hot hatch like a Focus ST. I don't find them too ugly, but that's a personal thing. I do think it is needless to drive children to school for a few hundred yards, but I think that whether the driver is in said BMW or in a Fiesta.

    28 Feb 2006, 13:09

  4. My issue is more one of safety. On my route to work I drive down a very narrow road with a school on one side. No buses or large vehicles would try to venture down there. There are spaces for people to park but they often park on the side of the road. 4×4 drivers tend to park on verges or anything else (because thay can) and obscure the view for pedestrians more than any other cars due to their height and bulk. A large number of bulky 4X4's parked in this way would obstruct the view of the road and of other cars pulling out. If a small child was hit by a 4×4 even at a slow speed it wouldn't stand a chance. Admittedly this is the case with all vehicles, and all cars are potential death traps, but with large bulky SUV's it seems to be more pronounced, especially when driven in urban environments. I have no problem with them used in more appropriate contexts.

    28 Feb 2006, 13:46

  5. Chris May

    Do people-carriers get parked along the same bit of road? If so, are they any less bad than the 4×4s? (And if so, why?)

    28 Feb 2006, 13:55

  6. People carriers do seem to be less bad. They are generally less bulky and their height isn't as great. Maybe the 4×4's I see are particuarly high off the road, I guess some of the models are taller than others. People carrier drivers seem to generally be less agressive and more considerate too, although of course I am generalising.

    28 Feb 2006, 14:08

  7. Sigh Seen this one crop up a few times on blogs. Including my own Most of all that's to be said about the issue is there I think.

    Oh and Chris, I know it's pedantic but Lotus Elises/Exiges are pretty environmentally friendly as far as emissions are concerned. And I'd dispute your claim that people carriers are in general better parked, I've seen atrocious parking from all corners. But that is an issue of driver education, not one to ban vehicles as a whole. You can buy a road car that does 253 mph but we have speed limits and road police to ensure that drivers behave responsibly in them on the public highway.

    28 Feb 2006, 15:03

  8. In terms of outright emissions they Elises/EXige might not be too bad. In actual fact it's worse than it looks though, if you look instead at people carried. A mother taking her children to the school or tesco (I'm assuming the journey has to be done by private transport btw for reasoning) she CAN'T DO THAT IN AN ELISE. You can't fit a week's shopping for a family of 5 in a two seater. You can't fit three kids in one either, therefore for the amount of work the car is CAPABLE of doing, the Elise etc is less efficient and enviromentally friendly than a car that does the same mpg but carries 5, the latter car has a much high passenger mpg figure.

    Yes some cars are taller than others, but the query against lorries still stands, why just 4×4s why not all vehicles taller than a hatchback?

    28 Feb 2006, 15:16

  9. Living in the sticks as I do you see a lot of 4×4s as well as trucks and similar stuff. The thing is – they make sense in a rural environment whereas they don't in an urban location. When you drive down a lane covered in wet mud it's easy to think a 4×4 would be helpful. They are also largely working vehicles, not simply status symbols. Indeed, most 4×4s round our way are either older second hand ones, Defenders or nissan/toyota trucks.

    Can you penalise urban users without being unfair on those rural owners for whom a 4×4 makes total sense.

    28 Feb 2006, 15:35

  10. BTW - I would like to point out that I live in a village where people still work, not some commuter haven where Oxford/London decamps to at the weekend…

    28 Feb 2006, 15:36

  11. Perhaps this should be phrased as less about 4×4s as a whole group and more about 'soft roaders' – RAV4s, Honda CRV's and similar that couldn't handle a grass verge let alone a muddy field. Perhaps as a prerequisite of being able to buy one you have to sign a disclaimer that you will at least once a week do one of the following:

    – Ford a river
    – Drive across a field/woodland
    – Carry logs/livestock/animal feed
    – Tow something (excludes Caravans)

    If you can't sign up to this you should be directed towards the people carriers.

    28 Feb 2006, 16:32

  12. I'm not sure this counts for that much but it can be argued that you will almost never find a performance people carrier as opposed to a Porsche Cayenne for example which only does 15mpg and most likely less in an busy urban environment such as a school run whereas a typical ford galaxy does 45mpg.
    As regards a method of penalising only urban 4×4 drivers the london congestion charge is higher for 4×4s than other cars (although i'm not sure what is done about tiny fiat pandas which do have 4 wheel drive). What is actually more worrying are these soft-roaders such as the BMW X3 that is never intended to go off road yet still has an engine that does 17mpg.
    I think this is a very important issue in some communities, where i live at home there was a nearby private infants school where if you looked outside when they were being picked up there was a long line of badly parked SUVs where out of all of the cars there only 5 were not SUVs (for a school with less than 200 pupils), we took a bit of an approximate survey.

    28 Feb 2006, 16:58

  13. Rachel

    As a non-driver myself, I'm not really qualified to comment, but I live in London, and i do generally find that the people who have 4×4's or any other huge cars in cities don't really have need for them. Ok, so a weeks shopping won't fit into a tiny sports car, but no one should be buying enough food that they need a small truck to carry it home. Also, I would agree with an earlier comment that 4×4 drivers do seem to act like the own the road – they are more agressive, faster and generally more dangerous. I would agree that big vehicles are useful in country areas, but thats no reason not to penalise urbanites who have the car for no 'real' need, and just take up excess space and terrify other road users into the bargain.

    28 Feb 2006, 16:58

  14. Tom: Yes it is more about 'soft roaders'. The industry should be actively encouraging responsible ownership through information and advertising. The market is awash with people carriers which are ideally suited for multi-occupancy and luggage which, as you say, people could be directed towards. I think for a lot of people who drive them around in them they are status symbols. I'm not sure how a financial tax would work, we already have lower tax for lower emissions but maybe there needs to be another level of taxation in order to get the message across.

    28 Feb 2006, 17:13

  15. We have a small MPV (a Renaut Scenic (old style, not the ugly one they do now)) because there are 5 of us, and we take a lot of shit everywhere, especially on holiday when we need a top box as well. And my brother is really, really tall so he finds the Scenic a lot more comfortable than a 'normal' car. It's definately more of a practical thing than a status symbol. We would never dream of driving the Scenic off road though as it simply isn't built for it. My friend's family recently bought a 4X4 (2nd hand). There are 5 of them also, but a Scenic style MPV probably would have been cheaper 2nd hand and more practical for them, especially as they don't 'do' off-roading. My Dad's very concerned about fuel efficency, so he drives a VW Golf, which is like the most fuel efficient car ever as it does about 70mpg if you don't hammer it. I think the whole 4×4 thing in cities is definately a question of status, hence the name 'Chelsea tractor', because, let's face it, the average family won't have 50k to spend on a car. I think the greater concern, though, is with the amount of carbon emmisions these 4×4s produce, as this will have the most effect long term.

    28 Feb 2006, 17:39

  16. I like the term soft roader. I think it's far more applicable here than "4×4". A 4×4 means that all four wheels are being driven by the engine, which in many cases is advantageous (adverse weather conditions, transmitting a lot of engine power). I doubt for example that anyoen wanting to "ban 4×4's" would have any problem with a Fiat Panda 4×4, since it's basically exactly the same car but with 4 wheel drive, yet under banning of 4×4s you'd exclude them. If you want to ban or restrict a type of vehicle on technical grounds, then those technical grounds should be clearly defined. If it's visibility/height, then suggest restrictions for all types of vehicles (would also exclude MPVs, goods vehicles but not all 4 wheel drive vehicles). If emissions or fuel consumption, suggest minimum standards (which would exclude many other types of vehicles which would probably be a good thing in some people's eyes, but leave in fuel efficient 4×4s such as diesel BMW X5's). If it's safety standards, then recommend minimum crash requirements (some 4×4s beat a lot of standard road cars in this area, so you'd be excluding a lot of normal cars like say the A3 which has poor pedestrian safety, but keeping in many of the soft-roader types, and in any case engineers would just redesign the front end of Range Rovers to meet the standards). But to suggest the banning of "4×4s" for technical reasons shows a fundamental lack of technical understanding of the problem or solution which you apparently feel passionately about.

    Chris, no school mum would buy an Elise or Exige for the school run (unless she only had one child). Most cars rarely have more than one occupant anyway. But that's not the argument here so we should perhaps drop this one for another time? I know you like your massive estate vehicles and modern off-roaders, but not everyone has a demand to transport huge amounts of stuff. For say one professional travelling light, an Elise doesn't make a terrible case as a method of transport compared to quite a lot of alternatives.

    Tom – a lot people who do that sort of thing actually have four wheel drive pick-ups instead. But I don't see why you should restrict vehicle use because you're not using it for what the original principle of the vehicle was designed for. Should we ensure that Ferrari owners all take them racing, despite the fact that most of them are designed for the road and not the track? In the same way, should we ensure all X5 owners take them offroad, despite the fact that they were designed for going mostly on-road but in a vehicle layout (high up, big ground clearance, 4 wheel drive) shared with vehicles that were designed to go offroad? I can personally see the argument for ground clearance quite easily; for one I've damaged my car on speed humps before, and my car is by no means a low ground clearance vehicle. Speed humps, as I'm sure you are aware, are an urban feature.

    Barnaby – there are a few MPVs with a performance theme – the VXR Zafira springs to mind.

    28 Feb 2006, 18:31

  17. Barnaby – a minor issue regarding the congestion charge, this is actually charged uniformly at £8 regardless of the type of vehicle you drive. (source) There are discounts available for users of alternative fuel/electrical vehicles and vehicles designed to carry nine or more people. (source)

    On the subject of the blog themselves – well, quite frankly, these vehicles are a blight. 'Soft roaders' have no place in society whatsoever. If a car owner has a need to drive offroad, they will buy a proper offroad vehicle. If a mother/father needs to convey 3/4 children on the school run and/or do weekly shopping for a family of five, there are plenty of alternatives such as MPVs and estates. (When I'm living at home I regularly do the weekly shop for our family of four in a VW Polo) SUVs/soft roaders? Ban them in all urban environments, if not completely. Let's not even begin to discuss the number of parents in Greater London driving their single child to school in an SUV (although in fairness, in this matter I detest all vehicles equally) despite all children in London being given free access to one of the best public transport systems in the world. I'm reasonably sure my righteous indignation would induce an aneurysm.

    01 Mar 2006, 00:34

  18. There are a number of issues

    • air pollution
    • energy use
    • volume of road space – including space in car parks
    • safety – especially of other road users

    which haven't got much do to with how many wheels are driven.

    But then people aren't very rational when it comes to cars -it's all about image. Apparently despite high fuel prices car buyers are more interested in the colour of car than m.p.g.

    An issue locally – Injured Katie's call to outlaw bull-bars

    01 Mar 2006, 09:08

  19. Murali – You argue for a ban of soft roaders yet provide no technical justification for this, just including blanket statements such as soft roaders having no place in society whatsoever. With all due respect, I don't think anyone will listen to voices arguing for change without reasons behind those arguments.

    George – at last, someone sees the point that the issues people have with "soft roaders" have very little to do with the number of driven wheels. As has been pointed out numerous times, not all soft roaders do too badly in most of the categories you list, and there are numerous vehicle types which do fall foul of those which wouldn't be included in a soft roader or 4×4 ban. I maintain my view that it's the perception/image of the soft roader that people have issue with rather than their actual effect on the world.

    01 Mar 2006, 11:45

  20. Murali – There has been a plan for a while to increase the congestion charge seperately for 4×4s this is what i'm referring to.

    01 Mar 2006, 13:59

  21. I fear we're all becoming peasants and communists.
    Long live SUVs.

    01 Mar 2006, 20:26

  22. only dickheads have 4×4s when they don't live in the country. end of.

    02 Mar 2006, 01:23

  23. How convincing Vincent – the claim that someone is a dickhead because they choose to have 4 driven wheels on their car instead of two when they live in a predominantly urban environment. Curious how a technical decision should affect someone in this way (and I'd be curious as to just how many of today's technically illiterate public are aware their vehicle has/has not got 4 wheel drive when they buy it)

    02 Mar 2006, 08:07

  24. As Tom has already suggested, the term 4×4 is used here as a generic term for 'soft-roaders', its not really about the technical specifications of 2/4 wheel drive. Its about an increasing trend in the number of people driving these mini trucks around places they weren't designed for ie: cities and narrow streets. Yet again this morning I was almost hit by a woman driving a huge soft-roader down a tiny windy road without the awareness of the true size of it, she was virtually on the other side of the road. Yes, there are lots of other big vehicles on the road that are larger; trucks, lorries, vans etc but they are working vehicles.

    02 Mar 2006, 09:16

  25. Franc Buxton

    I'm pleased to see here a comment like Vincent's. It speaks volumes in support of that which he seems to so vehemently oppose.

    My view is this: There are large cars, small cars, long cars, short cars, cars with different impacts on environment and other factors of everyday life, cars with
    considerate drivers, cars with socially pscychopathic drivers, cars driven by the front wheels, the rear wheels and all four or more wheels, and many other
    sets into which they can be categorised. Most of these sets intersect, and the identification of one small subset, especially with a vague and moveable definition,
    as being the root of all the things we hate in an urban environment is a manifestation of a well-known facet of human psychology. Vehicles driven by all four
    wheels as a group are no more to blame for these problems than the Jews were for those in 1930s Germany or than black men (or immigrants or any other social
    minority) are for all the crime in the country, and I have not made that statement lightly.

    It is easy to latch on to this type of campaign and just go along with what "public opinion" (a.k.a. what the papers say, and so probably what the noisiest group says
    and certainly what sells papers) appears to support, and not bother to actually use one's own brain. If there is a problem (and I agree there probably is) let's define
    it first to everyone's agreement and devoid of emotive factors, and preferably devoid of the influence of those who would manipulate us for their own ends (that's
    probably the difficult part).

    I sometimes drive an old Range Rover – hardly a status symbol, as anyone who has seen it will testify – and it gives me great pleasure
    to take it to places where it was intended to go (although there are those who would deny me the use of the two percent of the places they use for recreation
    which I am also entitled to use, but that's another story), and sometimes I need, or desire, to drive it to work. Despite it not costing me any more to run that my
    Rover 214 owing to running it on the cleanest and cheapest fuel available, I normally use the 214 in consideration of the environment amongst other things,
    and my vehicle normally has at least two people in it. I know many will now say it's not people like me who they're talking about, but I and many like me will suffer
    from poorly-formed legislation, like all responsible firearms owners did from the last witchhunt. I have no interest in firearms but was still incensed at the
    foolishness of those who cannot see an alternative agenda when it stares them in the face.

    Have I really harped on for so long on this? This is someone else's space, so I apologise for that – I guess it's been a long time coming from me. I feel no guilt,.
    however, and make no apologies, for my lifestyle and leisure interests, and would not deny any other responsible person theirs. If you got this far, thanks for
    reading. I'll try not to say any more!

    02 Mar 2006, 10:14

  26. Ian Stuart

    Hanna, you say "the term 44 is used here as a generic term for 'soft-roaders'"

    I have two comments on this:

    1. "4×4 as a generic term" – this, unfortunately, doesn't work: people do not assume that 4x4 means soft-roader: they include the Defenders and Mercedes G-waggons and other vehicles designed initially for the military market. I know: I get hassled about my own 4x4 (which is, by no stretch of the imagination, a soft-roader or a daily driver)
    2. Please can we define "soft-roader"? Land Rover Discoverys are superb vehicles off-road – better than almost any other vehicle, and I know two people who competitively race freelanders off-road - so can we can discount them as soft-roaders? What about Subaru's? Originally a working vehicle, now seen as an AWD car. The VW Turag: amazing ability off paved roads, but not up to climbing mountains.

    As so many others have said – the problem is not with wanting to ban vehicles, or tax them off the road, or whatever… it's how you define it. 4×4 is an emotive term: choose a clearly defined specification, be clear, be consistent.

    (personally, I'd rather ban all these people who buy "supercars", and then belt around the rural area I live in at 100+mph. Ban Supercars, not 4×4s – that's what I say <grin />)

    02 Mar 2006, 12:41

  27. Niel

    Well I have no problem, I drive my only vehicle to work, a 14 year old diesel discovery, everyday. At the weekends I tow trailers full of Scouting equipment to/around/back from the country and when the weathers bad people out of ditches too. I feel no guilt at all, but then its just a tool, not a status symbol!

    02 Mar 2006, 12:48

  28. Robert O'Toole

    I have some experience of the usefulness of 4×4s: approximately 50,000km driven in Southern Africa, including the Kalahari, Namib and Karoo, using a Toyota Hilux and more recently a Toyota Landcruiser Prado. A question for 4×4 owners: is this the kind of image you had in mind when you bought your beast? – it certainly is the marketing ploy used to sell them (have you heard the latest Freelander advert).

    Well here's the truth. In those 50,000km I can only recall really needing the off-road abilities of the vehicle a few times. Occasionally the ground clearance has been useful. Indeed one of the reasons for the popularity of the Hilux in Botswana is that the hot exhaust and engine runs above the tall grass, thus avoiding embarrasing veld fires (see the many burnt out Land Rovers that litter the Kalahari).

    A few years ago we did an expedition in the Moroccan Sahara, including some sand, gravel and a salt pan. I drove this in a standard Fiat Uno. It did fine.

    Of course there are some advantages of some 4×4s. The Hilux will carry a vast amount of camping kit, including our 60 litre water container. But then so does a Ford Transit, which is probably more economical. And besides, most of the soft-roaders that you see today have barely more luggage capacity than a saloon car. The Freelander in particular is a joke.

    There is one final reason for our use of the Hilux out in the desert, unlike the Fiat Uno (with its plastic gearbox), the Hilux is utterly indestructible. But that is a special characteristic of that vehicle not shared by lesser 4×4s (Shoguns and Land Rovers).

    4×4 owners are mostly fooling themselves into spending vast amounts of money on totally unecessary characteristics.

    My recommendation is this: if you want to be in a position to face any driving situation with safety, save your self tens of thousands of pounds. Sign up for an advanced driving course instead. Size does not matter. It's all about skill.

    02 Mar 2006, 14:05

  29. Hannah, I have on many occasions almost been hit by maniacs in all sorts of vehicles. Are you suggesting the woman in the big car was
    driving dangerously or too quickly? If so, maybe she should be reported to the police as a careless driver. I suspect the type of car she was
    driving had little bearing on her incompetence. The most incompetent drivers I have seen are usually in 'white vans' (there's another subset –
    maybe we should latch on to them instead…), where their familiarity with driving has led to contempt rather than the more noble strife for
    perfection. Another hazard on small winding roads is motorbikes – they can't get much smaller, but can take up a lot of space when being
    driven at 70mph as by some idiotic bikers. All groups contain idiots, it doesn't mean we should punish the whole group, or cite only the
    ones that reinforce our current case.

    02 Mar 2006, 14:31

  30. Robert, I take your point about the characteristics not often being necessary, although I could take you to some places in our own fair
    land where the Toyota would be challenged and the Uno wouldn't see the first half mile. The point I was making earlier is that it isn't
    always about necessity – I and some friends derive pleasure and relaxation from these things, from the achievement of acquiring
    driving skills and often in my case from the triumph of self-implemented engineering over nature, although I stress with the utmost
    respect and regard for, and indeed enjoyment of, that nature. This is what I/we do for fun, and as long as we do it with due responsibility
    I can think of a great many less savoury recreational activities. There are others no doubt who don't fall into the same category as me,
    and who fit the stereotypical image more closely. I can't comment on them, I don't know any.

    Some of my friends, by the way, are advanced drivers, and my 16-year-old Range Rover is probably the cheapest 4×4 I could buy, so
    no tens of thousands for me! Photographic equipment, though – now that's a different story! ;>)

    02 Mar 2006, 15:02

  31. Robert O'Toole

    As for driving cars off-road in the UK, is there anywhere here that you can't access on a bicycle? The vast distances in Southern Africa almost justify using a 4×4. But in the UK, it's just downright lazy.

    Get out of the car. Get some exercise.

    But if its driving skill that you are interested, try something genuinely challenging. Any fool can drive a car. Riding a motorcycle safely and quickly is however another matter.

    02 Mar 2006, 16:18

  32. Robert O'Toole

    "the people who drive them usually don't have the skill to manouvere well" – I once reversed into a rhino. This almost justified having a 4×4.

    02 Mar 2006, 16:21

  33. I know obesity is a big problem in the UK, but I doubt we are at Rhino proportions yet Rob.

    02 Mar 2006, 16:27

  34. Just ban mums from driving 4×4s. Problem solved.

    02 Mar 2006, 16:55

  35. Franc: The driver in question seemed to be completely unaware that her huge truck-like vehicle (some sort of Mitsubishi/Toyota) was almost in the middle of the road, very close to all the others on my side of the road. She seems to have no real concept of the width of what she is driving (I have passed her many times in the mornings). We were both driving slowly (the road in question is a 20mph zone) so no major accident would happen but something that big will always come off with the least amount of damage compared to a pedestrian or smaller car!

    Of course I am not suggesting that such vehicles are the source of all problems on the road, or that they are all poor drivers but I do think the increasing trend in cities is a cause for concern. There are enough cars on our roads and parked outside our houses anyway without people driving larger and larger vehicles. There are tests that have to be passed for motorcyclists, HGV drivers and minibuses so maybe drivers of large SUV's should have to pass an advanced/special driving test to ensure their competence.

    02 Mar 2006, 16:57

  36. Hannah: As I said, there are lots of awful drivers around – and yes, an advanced test for use of vehicles above a
    certain size is a fine idea – just an extension of the current HGV rules, basically. 'White van' drivers would have to
    take it too, of course. Let's say anything bigger than about 1300 kg, and anything with more than the
    performance level of a Ford Focus… No, I'm not being sarcastic – I really do think that's a great idea! I myself have
    undergone defensive driving courses for the benefit of my work in the automotive industry and they were very
    beneficial indeed. I would take such a test like a shot. The authorities have already done it with trailers, so it's not
    a big step, either.

    Rob: I don't like motorbikes, although some of my friends are big fans so I understand the attraction even while
    not subscribing to it. This is all about fun, so if it's not fun for me I don't want to do it. I don't want to do it on
    a bicycle either, because I enjoy driving for itself. Unlike at least one of my friends, I do get exercise – I walk as
    well, which is more than the said friend can do as he's registered disabled and can only ever get to see the
    countryside in his Suzuki. Yes, any fool can drive a car, and lots do. If more took pleasure and pride in it rather
    than considering it a chore that they need to do they would be better drivers. Either that, or they should give
    it up, use their bike or the bus and make more room for me… ;>)

    (Come to think of it, there are some complete wallies who could benefit from a compulsory test for bicycles…)

    02 Mar 2006, 21:20

  37. Tests for high performance and large vehicles might not be too bad an idea… Alternatively (or perhaps additionally) we could look at just raising the standard of drivers in the UK in general, because as has been pointed out already it really is appauling. But to ban goods because some people use them irresponsibly is misguided and avoiding the problem, which is that some people are just bad drivers. Much better to address the issue of use.

    02 Mar 2006, 21:56

  38. Chris: Scary thing is, I believe the UK has one of the highest driving standards in the world.

    I agree with what you say – which is good, because now it appears you, Hannah and I (and possibly
    others) largely agree, implying this discussion has actually been productive. Hurrah for Warwick blogs,
    of which this is my first experience!

    02 Mar 2006, 22:18

  39. Robert O'Toole

    Oh well, some people just have to choose the inferior option.

    03 Mar 2006, 00:34

  40. I just get annoyed by all the (as i shall always know them) Chelsea Tractors.

    I know there are larger vehicles, but so are the MPV / SUV thingys. and i swear the MPV/SUV things are better environmentally than the 4×4's.

    But my real pet-hate is when people using these vehicles ONLY in built up ares do not remove the bull-bars from the front of them. These are leathal. If (god forbid) they knocked down a child, it wouldnt matter about their speed, cos the bull-bars would apply all the force at one point (at high pressure) and thus killing or seriouly injuring the child in the process.

    Take 'em off!

    03 Mar 2006, 01:43

  41. Franc: Its good that your introduction to WB's has been positive, I think such discussions are invaluable in prompting thoughtful debate. Anything that helps individuals improve their driving skills has to be good. I have thought a lot more about my driving since attending a Speed Awareness Course rather last year (following being 1mph over the acceptable range by a speed camera, which I am rather ashamed of). It was a really well run course and made me realise how important it is to develop my driving skills and to never become complacent on the road. A lot of regions are now offering this to first-time offenders in this category, and I would love to see that extended. Educating people is usually far more effective than simply penalising them alone.

    03 Mar 2006, 09:23

  42. Matt,

    There have been several attempts to ban bull bars from vehicles of all natures, and I'm not totally sure if a ban is now in place, but if not it is certainly coming shortly. As an SUV is the same as a 4×4 (to all intents and purposes) I'll overlook that bit and say yet again that it depends which '4×4' you look at. The Toyota Rav4 uses around the same amount of fuel as a Mondeo while the Lexus RX400h hybrid offroader is cleaner and uses the same fuel as a Focus or powerful Fiesta. No vehicle is economical doing short trips to the school and back, and it is changing our attitude to what we do with vehicle that is going to have the greatest impact.

    Other than that I think people who drive badly would drive badly whether they are in a metro or a range rover, so education is key. Like Hannah I've done a situational/speed awareness course courtesy of the government. I don't condone speeding in urban environments. I'm not going to Nazi people for breaking national speed limits on motorways though, because it is not (in my opinion) dangerous. What is dangerous is driving around without awareness of what is around you.

    03 Mar 2006, 10:23

  43. Well, I now seem to have reached a broad concord of views with just about everyone in this
    debate whose approach to argument has led me to a respect of their viewpoint, so I intend
    to try to shut up and not say any more! I consider myself better educated than when we
    started and my own views in better perspective. My summary comment would be that I
    believe arguing for an outright ban on anything is always a mistake, and usually a lazy and/or
    naive approach to solving a problem which really demands some critical thought, or even a
    means to a covert end by manipulation of mass opinion. I do not subscribe to mass opinion.

    Thanks for the time and space!

    04 Mar 2006, 12:14

  44. Robert O'Toole

    Perhaps the outright ban on murder should be repealed then?

    04 Mar 2006, 20:41

  45. There are times when I would find that very convenient! ;>))

    07 Mar 2006, 08:43

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