Alec Marsh

The problem with driving in Britain

  • From Spectator Life
Image: Getty

Admit it, the joy of driving is a myth – in Britain at least. Drivers who talk about the thrill of getting behind the wheel should ask themselves, when was it that they last really enjoyed driving somewhere?

Because the grim truth is that unless you are on an isolated country road miles from the nearest speed camera – and certain that no one else is around – you simply can’t let rip anywhere now. The traffic never subsides enough for you to get a decent run up and, if it did, you’d be flashed by speed camera or break the average speed limit before you could even hit fourth gear (let alone hit the near-mythical realm of Fifth Gear).

Automated cars will expose British driving for the chore that it has become

The situation is only going to worsen as the population of Britain climbs remorselessly to northwards of 70 million by 2050. One thing is clear – by the time we get there, I don’t plan on trying to drive anywhere.

Thanks to these demographic pressures and the sort of surveillance that Kim Jong-un can only dream of, driving in Britain is now about as much fun as dousing yourself in hand sanitiser every time you enter a shop. You’re constantly being monitored by the state for the smallest infraction. With 7,000 speed cameras alone Britain has 900 more than the USA, and only 3,000 fewer than Russia which is of course 70 times larger than Britain.

Unsurprisingly therefore, government figures show that the average speed on rural A roads is now a ferocious 36 miles per hour. This is positively Mr Toad-like when compared to urban roads where the speeds are around 19 miles per hour. At that speed it is technically feasible for Usain Bolt to run in front of your car with a red flag like they did 100 years ago in the age of horseless carriages.

Then there are the health repercussions of driving today.

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