VAIN 1 – In Praise of Personalised Plates

By Mark Simpson Personalised number plates are the pits. The egotism of them! The silliness of them! The waste of them! The motoring equivalent of a sovereign necklace, their only value is warning everyone that the driver ahead is a BI6 DCK. Or so I used to think. And I suspect many of you may have done so too. Personalised plates or ‘vanity plates’ as they are sometimes called are booming. According to the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency almost 350,000 registrations were sold over […]

Smartening Up – Or Dumbing Down?

Mark Simpson on how hard shoulders are being given… the hard shoulder Hard shoulders don’t sound very inviting – and often look very unloved and untidy. But you may miss them when they’ve gone. The Transport Secretary just announced that 32 miles of hard shoulder will be axed from the M4 between Hayes and Theale as part of an ‘upgrade’ that converts the hard-shoulder to a fourth lane. Earlier this year, another twenty miles of hard shoulder disappeared from our motorway network as the latest stretch […]

Whose Road Is it Anyway?

Mark Simpson on the tarmac war between cyclists and drivers Like many drivers, I hate cyclists. They’re in your way. They’re too slow. They’re too erratic. They’re too self-righteous. They get away with murder. But when I’m on my pushbike, I hate drivers. They’re up your arse. They’re too fast. They’re too aggressive. They’re too impatient. They’re murderers. So you could say I have a balanced view. As a cyclist I envy the way that drivers are dry and warm and protected by a metal […]

Signal Failure: What Not Indicating Indicates

Mark Simpson on the capital offence of failing to indicate ‘That’s alright. Don’t bother indicating. I can read your imbecilic mind!!’ I often find myself coming over all Victor Meldrew when confronted with the worst offence in the entire motoring universe. Failing to indicate. Well, OK, it might not be the worst, but it’s certainly one of the most annoying. Yes, I know. Not bothering to indicate does save you the Herculean effort of moving your hand an inch or two every now and again. And it […]

The Driverless Driver

Driving is a wonderfully useful thing. It gets you from A to B without breaking a sweat, without getting cold or wet, and without having to listen to other people eat crisps ludicrously loudly, or watch them spill their large, very sugary Virgin Trains tea all over the table you’re sharing with them. There is however a drawback. Driving involves decisions. And attention. And having to turn this thing in front of you called a ‘steering wheel’. When you would rather be picking your nose, chatting […]

Fine Dining Over the Fast Lane

Mark Simpson on the lost glamour of Leicester Forest East services Leicester Forest East, situated – or rather, squeezed – between J21 and J21a on the M1, contains a slightly interesting paradox to those sufficiently undulled by the boredom of motorway driving and an entire family pack of Haribos to notice it. Not its appearance, which now looks like a very average 1960s motorway services that has seen better days, but because it is in actual geographical fact west of Leicester and there is no […]

Gauging the Future

Mark Simpson on the information overload facing today’s drivers Before we all started zooming around cyberspace and endlessly fiddling with games, apps and cool lock screens on our smartphones, the most exciting sense of interactive information – of hardcore control – that most people who weren’t actually fighter pilots or engineers or micromanaging dictators got was from the dials on their car dashboards. Needles and lights and counters monitoring speed, revolutions per second, oil temperature, oil pressure, water temperature, outside temperature, inside temperature, humidity, mileage, […]