Welcome to the first instalment of ‘Ripwell Reports’ where the well known news personality, Giles Ripwell, carries out investigation into a subject which is bothering an increasing number of people in a piece called “The Menace on the Roads. And Pavements”.
Ripwell Reports. The Menace on the Roads. And Pavements.
There are many subjects these days which the general public have an interest in but know absolutely nothing about. Luckily, the media pick up on pick up on these interests, investigate the topic, provide a fair and balanced report of the topic and them decree whether it is a problem or not. In turn, citizens pick up the information provided and use it to have healthy and friendly debates about the subject on social media. At the moment though there is a certain topic vexing the nation which seems to be sending everyone into a ruddy rage. The media is telling us that the nation should be at breaking point because of it. You will have heard of the problem. It has only been on every form of media. Radio phone ins, newspapers and internet websites are choked full of angry but well balanced debate and stories concerning certain red light jumping, uninsured pavement hogs. So what is the story with these braggarts? What makes them tick? What is been done to stem their growing numbers? But most importantly will we ever be able to share the road safely with these characters in their four wheeled steel boxes.
To find out exactly what the views on these scoundrels, or drivers as they’ve become to be known, are I started my investigation by tuning into a radio phone in. If you ever want to find out what is on the public’s mind and hear some informed debate then I recommend you listen to one of these shows. The only place you find a higher level of discussion are the comment sections of Facebook. The show I listened to was on BBC Radio 4 and it was their 13th phone in on drivers that week, which could in no way be described as lazy journalism. Members of the public were encouraged by the presenter to call in and calmly chat about their views, both good and bad, about drivers. They called the piece: “Drivers. Do they all jump red lights? Yes. But what else annoys you about them”. It didn’t take long for the first irate caller, one Mrs Hillingdon from Loughborough, to ring up and rage “You should see the state of the road around here. They’re like this because of all the tax dodging student drivers around here. They should stick to the bleedin motorways. And they all jump red lights”. Next a gentleman going by the name of Mr Percy West added to the debate. “Yes, well it’s true they don’t pay road tax, but let me tell you this. They don’t pay insurance either. Oh yes, and they’re unlicensed. There’s millions of them driving about uninsured and unlicensed. They should make it compulsory for them to be insured is what I say. And they all jump red lights”. It was becoming clear that drivers were not popular on the air waves. A fellow going by the name of Bob Pinkton rang up from Ilkley was the next to complain. “You’re sure as heck they jump red lights. They also tail gate, speed, park dangerously outside schools, don’t signal to turn, don’t wear helmets, weave in and out of traffic and drive on the pavements”, then added “And they all jump red lights”. Miss Dora Fitzsimmonds of Morningside, Edinburgh was the first driver to respond to the criticisms that her type were getting. “Well look at it from my point of view. I need to drive and park on the pavement. My 4×4 is too big to park on the street. I’ve lost count of the number of times someone has scraped the paintwork trying to get passed it”. When asked if the people responsible for damaging her car had paid for the damage she sobbed “Nobody has ever owned up to it. They just drive off without saying anything. Insurance should be compulsory. And they all jump red lights”. Another caller, a Mr Henry Drinkwater, was also on the side of the drivers. He mentioned the health benefits of driving a car. “I have to think of the kids you understand. I can’t have them walking to school breathing in all that pollution from the other cars. It’s far more healthy for them to be inside our VW with the air conditioning on full blast. What’s more, I can’t risk them walking about. They’ll only get knocked over by one of those red light jumping maniacs”.
Overall the majority of callers were sick and tired of the behaviour of drivers.
However it’s not just Mr Joe Public that seem to get irate at the mere sight of one of these drivers. Many celebrities are delicately stepping in to add their views on this problem of drivers.
Mr Loophole, know as “Nick Freemen”, the well known cycling safety campaigner and lawyer has been the most outspoken of these celebrities and has written some well thought out and unbiased articles on his website about the matter. As someone who has an interest in getting dangerous road users off the streets he, unsurprisingly,has some ideas on road safety pertaining to drivers. One of his concepts is that drivers should wear reflective clothing as a safety measure to protect them against other road users that aren’t paying proper attention. He also suggests that drivers should be treated the same as other road users, by giving them more laws to abide by. His calls for truly dangerous acts such as tailgating, speeding, drink-driving and using mobile phones to be made even more illegal, though were definitely not made so he can defend these reckless and life threatening crimes in court and charge his clients a rather tidy sum.
Mr Loophole isn’t the only public figure to be an anti-driver spokesperson. Another well known celebrity, Janet Saint Porter, has also brilliantly argued the case in a newspaper column that London should stop trying to encourage people to drive cars. She points out that if you switch modes of transport from bike to car you will still have the same number of cyclists but more drivers. This will lead to even less space for pedestrians who have apparently had no pavements provided for them. There could also be another reasons for her anger over drivers. As a self declared pedestrian she presumably also wants fewer cars in order for pollution level to drop.
It’s not just celebrities though that are talking out about drivers. Perhaps more importantly, some prominent and unelected politicians in England are making sure the situation with drivers isn’t getting out of hand. Lord Will and Lord Ahmand have spoken out in debates in the house of lords using incredibly accurate statistics to prove that driving is becoming incredibly dangerous. As well as those two chaps, Rodger Woodthorpe Browne, when not trying to become an MP, has been providing compelling arguments on social media as to why every single car should be banned from towns and cities after almost getting hit by one. He also suggests that drivers themselves should be exterminated, which would solve the problem of them driving in the countryside.
Not everyone though it seems are against drivers. In Scotland they at least seem to have found one friend. Tzar Frank Mcaventy, the Sheriff of Glasgow, has said he has been working tirelessly over the years to provide better and more roads. He has claimed that the city has over 450,000 miles of roads suitable for cars. If it seems to you that drivers are starting to get what they want then don’t worry. Drivers have pointed out they the figure that Tzar Frank quotes includes peoples driveways and the runway at Glasgow Airport.
While drivers in Glasgow have had a person speaking out for them, while delivering little, in the cities council thankfully the same cannot be said about Edinburgh. The un-confrontational Councillor Frank Cross who lives by the adage “Politics is the art of compromise” is leading the crusade against drivers in Scotland’s capital city. A fan of twitter, he uses the platform to attract drivers into a debate by tarring them all with the same brush before brilliantly winning all arguments with his debating skills. In a recent post he boldly declared “All drivers are bad. They do bad things“. When asked for specifics he replied. “All drivers are bad. They do bad things“. Another twitterer asked “Aren’t some individuals who aren’t drivers bad road users too?” But as usual he had a cutting retort and replied. “All drivers are bad. They do bad things“.
So have we got anything to be worried about? At the moment it seems not. While at times it may feel as if drivers are taking over the world it is clear that there are enough folk on the side of reason to make sure that they don’t, I mean even the dinosaurs didn’t take over the world. Seriously though, as long informed debate continues, we’ll get through this.