Saturday 7 April 2018

Man Reportedly Drives Car

The BBC breaks with journalistic convention with its story today: "Man, 73, Smashes Porsche 911 through Wall in Colchester".

You see, that's not how these stories go. Normally it's more like "Lorry smashes into Bridge near Southampton". Or "'It was like a bomb going off' - residents react after lorry smashes into bridge". No mention of the driver's agency at all. I think it's the Oxford Mail that reached the apogee of this kind of reporting, with the remarkable "Passengers escape after car overturns on bypass". At no point in that article was a driver referred to at all. The "passengers" escaped. Also we're told the "occupants" got away.We are never told about a driver. An alien landing from another planet or someone coming back from the year Google would presume, in the case of this news report, that the car was completely self driving. After all, did a spokesman not tell us that the car "seemed to have rolled over".

Well, they're like horses, really, cars. Or dogs. Sometimes when the mood takes them - I don't know, maybe they've got an itch on the sun roof, or they just want a bit on sun on the undercarriage. So they just randomly roll over. Maybe the plan is to have a nice scratch, and then they'll roll back. Except cars are like tortoises and sheep. Turns out that if they do roll over, they can't get back. They lie there, useless, needing a friendly hand to put them the right way up.

I'm sarcastic. Of course. And maybe unfair. Because sometimes news reports are all too clear about the human being in charge of the vehicle. For instance: "Shocking moment lorry collides with cyclist" in the Daily Mail. Or "Everything we know so far after cyclist and lorry collide".  Or "cyclist in collision with lorry at Blackfriars Bridge".

It seems to be a thing to do with the way that motor vehicles wrap themselves round their human occupants. Maybe a Toyota Prius is a kind of cyborg. The human personality is lost in the comfy seats and detailed efficient driving instructions. The driver is one with the machine - to the point that there is no such thing as "driver" or "vehicle". There is merely the vehicle.

Maybe the vehicle takes over the driver's mind. Already dehumanised by being shielded in their aluminium armour, maybe the driver actually gives in and lets the vehicle do the thinking. Maybe, just maybe, I'm thinking, maybe the vehicle takes over the Twitter account of some drivers and does the tweeting for them. That would explain why "Nigel", who tells us he's "fun to be around" (although he does have problems with using apostrophes), and Ann, who's a dog-loving philosopher, respectively hate having to wait for safe places to overtake, and think all cyclists are middle-aged children.

Actually, there's something else about those Twitter users. If only I could work out what it is.... Maybe that's the cars speaking as well.

So we have to accept that the causes of accidents are motor vehicles, not their drivers. Except for one unfortunate 73-year-old. It was definitely him driving. Not the Porsche. And it seems that the cars, in between colliding with cyclists (not the cycles, notice) are taking over their unwitting owners' Twitter accounts.

There's only one answer.

We're going to have to educate the cars.

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  1. Thanks, Archdruid Eileen. Nice to know someone has actually thought about the fact that cyclists are human, whereas cars take control of the minds of their drivers. I speak as one who does both.

  2. Interesting that a 75 year old can drive a Porsche and we've heard about the Triple Lock for pensioners, how he can afford a Porsche on 7.5K a year is beyond me. I can just about afford a 14 year old, battered 2nd hand car, bought for £300 on a car park in Euston, as the owner couldn't be bothered to take it to the scrappie?

  3. No more interesting than the fact that 20-somethings can afford to drive (and kill themselves and others in) top-of-the-range BMWs.

    The driver's age citation is part of a trend to stigmatise older drivers (who are as a group statisitcally less likely to have accidents than under-30s). The problem being that, outside the London and big-city conurbations, useable, frequent public transport is but a happy memory.


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