A recent hand injury has seen our columnist spend more time in the passenger seat, and time to watch the horrors on our roads…
Before I witter on about anything else this month, can I just say, please pay attention to the tyre special feature this month starting on page 29. I know many of our readers are pretty savvy about their vehicles and know that tyre purchase and maintenance is very important, but there will be those who don’t give a second thought to them until the garage doing the servicing says ‘your tyres need replacing, they’re below the legal 1.6mm limit’. Don’t leave it ‘til it gets that far, because you are driving a potentially dangerous vehicle as well as an illegal one: just saying.
There’s a lot of other useful and practical stuff and the lowdown on what’s going on in rubber wear from the industry experts. You will learn a thing or two, and if it makes you go out and check your tyre depth and general wear and pressure then that’s even better. It may give you pause for thought about whether you have the right tyres on your 4×4 for whatever you use it for. As you will read, the world of tyres is changing, thanks to those legislative busy bodies in the EU, and it particularly affects 4×4 owners.
Also, when you read this we will be smack bang into annual holiday month. If you are planning on taking your 4×4 packed with kids, camping gear etc off to the mountains or wherever, please make sure you check your tyres even more thoroughly. With all that extra weight you will probably need to increase the pressure and clear them of any annoying little stones or other debris that might get more fully lodged into the rubber under that extra cargo and cause problems when you’re in the middle of nowhere. And if you were even thinking of changing them, do it before you go and you won’t regret it.
Right, that’s the nag over with. I am feeling a bit fed up at the moment, as a hand injury has rendered me unable to drive for the last few weeks. Treatment is on-going and I hope to repair my mitt soon so that I can once again get behind the wheel and head off into the distance to bring you more stories from around the country. I have, therefore, been reduced to biding my time as a frustrated passenger which has led me to pay more attention to what’s going on around me rather than what is right in front/behind and immediately in peripheral vision. And what I have seen has appalled me in some circumstances. Some driving has been utterly dreadful, especially on motorways. And the number of lorry drivers I have watched nattering on their phones is shocking – even worse, texting while they weave all over the place. Of course, car drivers do it too, but it seems from my recent observations that lorry drivers appear to be the worst offenders. The M25 is notorious for accidents involving lorries (a fatal one last year on the Kent section saw the lorry driver receive a four-year prison sentence; he was using a mobile and messing about with satnav). If you know a lorry driver who chats on their phone then please have a go at them; or if you are guilty yourself, in your 4×4, just think about what you’re doing. It’s dangerous, illegal and not clever at all. A recent poll from Flexed.co.uk found that 80 per cent of drivers admitted to ‘driving illegally’ which included 37 per cent for using a mobile and nine per cent driving on worn tyres – even more incredulously, 11 per cent for drink driving…
I have also being paying more attention to the model and age of vehicles on the road. I was delighted to see an S-reg three-door RAV4 that was in great nick buzzing along the inside lane one evening. Having not seen one for years, and then helping Toyota celebrate its 20th birthday in Greece, (you read about that last month), I’ve now seen three on the road; just proves the theory. I also spotted an original Frontera Sport that had seen better days; it was the model before the revamp in 1995, which turned the old, unreliable rust bucket into a very decent truck that we all loved. Despite its somewhat tawdry looks and very sad bodywork, the old bus sounded fine and it’s likely that the owner won’t be sending it to the breakers’ yard any time soon. I was also very heartened to see my first new Range Rover Sport whizzing past in the outside lane. It’s been a while since I drove one for our 4×4 of the Year test 2014 and I have been itching to see one on the road in private ownership –not living in Cheshire, I realised it could take a while… It looks good on the road and you could see everybody turning their heads to take a peek as it glided by with its private plate. I can but dream.
And just to finish, back to the tyres theme and a bit of summer madness for you; a long-time friend of this mag often sends me daft YouTube clips of people doing stupid/incredible things in their 4x4s; not on our busy UK roads and tracks I hasten to add but in far flung corners of the world. This one takes the biscuit: www.chonday.com/Videos/sauditire2 – not much more I can say really, apart from please DO NOT try this at home.
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