Embrace Zen and be a better road user

When James May’s Ferrari 458, parked at the time, was bumped into by an even older gent parking his Skoda, the Sun managed to make a non-story about it – and it’s not even August, the traditional heart of the ‘silly season’ in the world of newspapers.

Its thesis was, of course, all based around the headline: ‘Strop Gear’ and the paper’s unending mission to knock folk from the pedestals upon which it had previously placed them.

We have recently starting working with the Institute of Advanced Motorists, very much a real-world place. This intensely active and positive organisation is keen to communicate with all of us who drive but who have not yet seen the need to move beyond the simple DfT test. The IAM wants to teach the UK’s motorists – young and not young – driving techniques that can deliver many levels of benefit. Longer lives being just one of these.

Because the number of people killed and seriously injured on the UK’s roads has fallen to ‘acceptable’ levels, road safety, and by extension further driver training, is not on any government agenda.

This is, of course, something of a shame, especially for people whose lives are changed, sometimes fatally, by the effects of a road traffic accident. This is why the IAM exists: to help prevent these cataclysms.

Impatient parents on the school run in Surrey are among the worst drivers in the world. They invariably pass on their frightful driving habits to their children and so the cycle repeats. When you join the dots it is clear that each time that we act on our impatience when driving, we encourage impressionable minds to follow suit.

But how do you communicate the benefits of Zen calm to road users in an already aggressive society? Where, for example, one half on two wheels wants to battle to the death with the other half on four? And vice-versa?

I never thought I’d ever have anything positive to say about Transport for London’s (mostly) poor communications aimed at drivers and train users.

Having seen this, I eat my words.

And as for Mr May’s sports car? It’s just paint old son; not that important.