17 Sept 2013

Which three letters in the motoring world make you shudder?

NIP –Notice of Intended Prosecution. You know you’re in for some points and a fine if one of these flops onto your doormat. But for me, the three letters that cause me to shudder – MPV.

I’m sure many readers will feel the same as me about MPVs, these seem to have the ability to cause mayhem on the roads and car parks across the country.

We’ve all seen them, some readers may well have one, some of us have had the misfortune to have suffered parking dings and worse from them, some may have witnessed some really funny attempts at parking. Are they actually funny or is there a serious underlying issue here?

Very often there will be a sign in the back, a bit like a HazChem symbol, warning us that this is Mum or Dad’s taxi or that a little princess is on board – the point is some of these can legally carry seven people and in my mind that makes it a minibus rather than a “car”. Maybe they should carry a proper HazChem sign warning other drivers (if they didn’t know already) that bad parking, poor car control and erratic driving is likely to happen at any moment.

No doubt there are many very competent drivers out there who can adapt their driving style to suit these vehicles, but very often these MPVs are bought and then suddenly someone has jumped from a small family car into this very large vehicle without one second of additional driver training and maybe this is the reason behind those parking dings and the awful parking attempts we see in the local superstore car park.

Isn’t it about time that a new category was introduced on the driving licence to cover these vehicles and that in addition all drivers of such vehicles would have to pass a supplementary driving test to prove that they can drive and park them properly? It would be a good refresher for the driver anyway but also maybe they’ll then realise that they do indeed have a “precious cargo” on board – possibly five of their own spawn.

You wouldn’t feel safe in a plane if the pilot hadn’t been trained how to handle multiple engine failure together with losing cabin pressure at the same time would you? So I think the test should be more realistic. The vehicle should have a full load on board – fully weighted animatronic style dummies so that the driver can feel the difference that the extra load makes to the way the vehicle accelerates, corners and brakes.

One dummy will be behind the driver wearing headphones and watching a DVD too loud so that the driver can hear the tinny rattle of the headphones. This dummy would regularly kick the back of the driver’s seat during the test. The radio will be blaring out “The wheels on the bus go round and round” (on auto repeat throughout the test). Another dummy would be bickering and arguing with a sibling.

One dummy will want to go to the toilet during the test whilst another would complain about feeling ill – and then promptly vomit before you can stop safely. OK, I grant you that not all of this will happen at the same time when driving on holiday with your brood, but the chances are at least one of these things will happen and so the driver should be prepared.

OK, I’ll admit it’s not another vote winner in my driving manifesto, but maybe at some point in the future it will happen.

Article by Paul Eldred