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Driving in England

I read with interest your web page, 'Why is it more fun to drive in England'.

Having driven extensively in Canada (Vancouver and inland), and not quite so extensively in USA (Connecticut), I can agree that the majority of English drivers are a little more well mannered than their colonial counterparts. We seem to be more at ease with our driving, we seem to be less competitive in a situation where the decisions we make can literally mean your life and/or somebody else's! Perhaps it is because our complex class system disappears when you take to the road, whether you drive a banger of a ten year old Ford Escort, or a top of the range BMW or Lexus, we are all equal behind the wheel.

However, make no mistake, we do have the occasional idiot who proves to be an exception. The past couple of years have seen an increase in the incidents of 'road-rage', where motorists have been forced to stop and then stabbed to death, or their vehicles have been rammed off the road, thankfully these incidents are still rare enough to make national headlines for days.

Yes, the majority of our cars are fitted with engines producing 'only' 100 horsepower, but with a vehicle weight a little less than the 2000 lb you mentioned, the car's performance can be exhilarating, and without the soft slushy ride favoured on USA cars, the handling will match the engine's performance. If you do not want to drive enthusiastically, then the UK spec car's superior handling and braking provides a generous safety margin. A 1.4 litre Rover will exceed 110mph, stop on a sixpence (about the size of a dime) and stick to the road!

I am afraid you are a little out of date with your comments about the attitude of our police. In recent months there has been millions of sterling spent on traffic policing. The Gatso system of catching speeders has well and truly arrived here, and an increase in police patrols driving outrageously fast cars to chase speeders. Do you fancy trying to outrun a Volvo T5 or Subaru Impreza driven by a well trained police driver? One police force in the UK uses Porsche 911s (in Essex), and the Nottingham motorway patrol have a Lotus Elise, serious cars or what!

All is not lost however. You can still have a great deal of safe fun on UK roads if you pick your time and place. The Welsh road system is meticulously maintained, and is always nearly empty on weekdays, similarly roads in Derbyshire, Lancashire and Yorkshire can offer the enthusiastic driver a place of opportunity. The entire country of Scotland is also great fun to drive in. Be warned though and do not stray south of Oxford. The southern or home counties are rife with Gatsos, police in helicopters and very fast cars, the occupants of which WILL catch you, and tear your driving license up for toilet paper.

What do I drive? A Renault Megane cabriolet, 140 hp and 1600 lb, with brakes and suspension to match, all the fun I can handle, and good fuel mileage when commuting. Who am I? A 49 year old husband and father of three who refuses to grow old gracefully. Drive with consideration, and have a good time.


Paul Riess wrote:

Dear Sirs,

I had to laugh at your editorial, "Why driving in England is more fun", both because of its accuracy and inaccuracies.

As a North-American road enthusiast living in the United Kingdom for the last 5 years, I believe that I speak with some authority... British police are great. I can drive at 70 miles per hour on a twisty back road or 100 miles per hour on a motorway (freeway) in my little Vauxhall Nova and the thought of getting a speeding ticket never enters my mind.ÊThat alone must be worth the cost of 17.5 % sales tax and having no 7-11s or Circle Ks.

I have more fun in my little mini car worth $2000 that any Viper owner in the United States could ever have. However, the author of the article has obviously never journeyed on the M25 motorway or the M6 motorway near Birmingham or Manchester. It is rumoured that it is the M25 that Chris Rea was referring to when he wrote "Road to Hell". The 25 mile journey from my home in Coventry to Wolverhampton on the M6 can take 2 hours but the last 7 miles accounts for half of that. And this is on the U.K. equivalent of an Interstate Highway.

Nevertheless, for motoring pleasure in general, I couldn't suggest a more appropriate vacation to the speed-trap weary U.S. driver than two weeks in England. And it's cheaper than skiing.

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