20 May 2011

Is Audi the new Volvo?

For many years, Volvos were the cars to watch out for, particularly if you ride a motorbike. With their side-impact bars, airbags, ABS and other so-called safety devices, the drivers were shielded from reality, secure in the knowledge that if they had a crash, they would be safely cocooned in their padded cage.

I used to wonder if it was the case that bad drivers bought Volvos, or that previously reasonably-good drivers were lulled into crapness by all these devices designed to take the responsibility away from the driver.

However, given the standard of driving I've witnessed recently, I am now convinced that the Audi is the new car of choice for the crap driver. Almost every 'bad driving' incident I have seen in the past few months has involved a black Audi. Tailgating, speeding, running red lights, drivers using mobile phones, drivers not wearing seatbelts, driving up pavements because they can't be bothered to wait for the vehicle in front to turn right, taking up two parking bays in busy car parks because they are unable to park straight or overtaking motorbikes and pedal bikes and then turning across their path. The list is not exhaustive.

This morning's incident made me shudder. A bloke on a bicycle was approaching a pinch-point in the road. As he moved out to go through it, the driver of the black Audi in front of me decided he wasn't going to slow down to wait for the cyclist to go through, so he drove round the cyclist and pushed in front of him - with only about 6" longer than the car to spare. This forced the cyclist off the road and he had to stop, in order to avoid getting knocked off. The Audi driver sped off down the road without, I suspect, a backwards glance. The cyclist was clearly shaken.

Now this rant was supposed to be just about crap driving, but I've been told I also have to mention the over-dark tinted windows so you can't actually see the driver (and presumably so the driver can't see cyclists), the blinding LEDs which show you where the headlamps are, and the apparent failure of Audi to provide an off-switch for the foglamps or a functioning indicator switch. There is also my constant frustration at the inability of drivers to use a handbrake, preferring instead to keep their foot on the brake and blinding those behind them with their extra-high-intensity eye-level brake lights. Yes, I know some cars have electronic parking brakes. I hate those too, and so does everyone I know who has a car with one fitted.

I think it's about time we got rid of all of these devices and made drivers actually think and drive for themselves, and put the responsibility firmly back on to the driver, not the machine.

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