I don’t know what it is about this time of year, but car insurance seems to be in the news rather a lot recently: first we had the European Court of Justice’s ruling that women will, as of next year, pay more for their premiums in an effort to introduce parity to the system which has hitherto rewarded them for their statistically better behaviour behind the wheel and offset a ‘discriminatory’ disparity which has become de rigueur in recent decades.
Then we heard insurers complaining about the House of Commons Transport Select Committee’s steadfast refusal to pin the blame for their rising costs, which they transfer to their customers anyway, on to personal injury lawyers and other associated practitioners.
Subsequently we then had the welcome suggestion from the Co-operative that they would fit clients’ cars with a black box data recorder, thus removing the blanket premium, er, premium often levied at young male drivers. This is another anti ‘-ism’ drive, this time attacking both ageism and sexism together, that is designed to reward young men who don’t subscribe to the notion that they must add a gargantuan exhaust pipe to their one-litre car and drive as if they’re Sebastian Vettel with Tabasco down his trousers.
Today, the Daily Mirror brings us as a slightly less lofty story, albeit one with a genuine message. New research has indicated that a fifth of British motorists have at some point in their career been involved in an accident that was triggered by a less than scrupulously clean motor.
The findings, as revealed by Confused.com, the price comparison site whose adverts don’t invoke viewers’ desires to grab a machete and go on the rampage, demonstrate that a scarcely credible fifty per cent of all drivers only clean their vehicles once a year, with just shy of a tenth of them admitting that they never so much as wave the Dyson in the vague direction of their interiors.
Using some people from a piece of popular drivel called The Only Way is Essex, apparently a programme on television, to promote their campaign, Confused quite unnecessarily pointed out that airborne plastic bags and crisp packets (reminiscent of ‘Grab a Grand’ on yesteryear’s family fave Noel’s House Party) can cause a bit of a distraction to drivers, while free-roaming coke cans tend to like nestling in the crevices behind people’s brake pedals. It could be argued that if they became lodged behind the throttle then speeds would be curbed in one fell swoop, but that isn’t the way it seems to work.
The old adage says that ‘an unmade bed is the sign of an unmade mind’ or something to that effect. While we’re discussing cars and not mattresses, the message from Confused and their spokeswoman, the houseproud ‘Nanny Pat’ is that responsible car owners should take as much care of their wheels as they do of their house.
Personally I have never understood why someone would buy a car and not look after it. Granted, some people do not have the time nor the inclination to don white gloves and start chrome-polishing the inner threads of every screw in the engine bay. Nor might they wish to devote a Sunday to rubbing four layers of glorified show wax to their paintwork, but even the cheapest roadworthy car will still set you back three hundred quid, so why not look after your purchase?
But at least they might keep the windows clean.
A pet peeve of mine is the motorist who fails to summon the resolve to wait for his demister to do its stuff on cold mornings and impatiently smears a filthy palm across the inside of his windscreen. My mother, for one, is a dyed-in-the-wool and unrepentant practitioner of this approach.
I have found, through personal experience, that this approach makes the issue exponentially worse: condensation seems to flock to grease more readily than it does to clean glass. Each time the window subsequently steams up, the foot-tapping owner utilises the hand-wipe approach once again and adds an additional layer of dirt.
By the time the weather improves, the glass has the transparency of a cup of tea. Drive a car in late-afternoon sun with anything less than an immaculately clean field of vision and try to see where you’re going as soon as a single shaft of light hits the screen. Towards the nearest tree, in all likelihood.
Employing a duster and three squirts of Mr Muscle, I feel, is a much more responsible step to take than merely hoovering the footwells every so often.
However, it cannot be denied that if you are cultivating a soft-drink receptacle collection that could provide enough aluminium to knock up an Audi A8, perhaps it’s time for a trip to the recycling centre.