Ongoing Debate

The debate I told you about yesterday – on the Health and Safety aspects of in-car satnav – rages on.

Like most debates on the Health and Safety forum, the serious stuff has all been done and it’s now turning a bit personal. The general concensus seems be that yes, satnav CAN be distracting for the driver – but properly used it’s less distracting than any other means of routefinding, like trying to read the map while you’re driving, and looking out for road signs.

It all got a bit personal when one contributor suggested that everyone who was in favour of satnav was only interested in playing with toys: He was close to suggesting that satnavs were the province of careless drivers like those who do their makeup or use handheld mobile phones while they’re driving, or even drive BMWs.

Speaking of which, don’t get me started about the BMW driver who cut me – and loads of other people – up on the M3 this morning.

There is, of course, a substantial band of Daily Mail readers who want to ban everything: Mobile phones, satnav, big 4x4s, in-car CD players, and anything else that might distract the driver from his primary function of wearing string-backed driving gloves and eating Werthers Originals. They’ve all missed the point, which is that a careless driver is a careless driver: Take away their handheld mobile and their takeaway Little Chef coffee, and they’ll go back to reading porno mags and wolf-whistling at pedestrians, which is what they did before mobile phones were invented. Whereas a driver who has some consideration for other people’s safety can fill their car with gadgets, nagging passengers, screaming kids, barking dogs and the omnibus edition of the Archers, and still stay focussed on the road.

I prefer a nice Dire Straits CD, myself.

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