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Aussie Learner Gets What He Deserves

I saw this on the newsfeeds. It tells how an Australian learner driver was videoed driving with his hands behind his head for a considerable distance (20km). In the video he is seen doing it alongside oncoming traffic (sorry about the advert – you can skip it):

He isn’t named in the article, but I doubt he’ll remain anonymous for long. If he doesn’t get the bright idea of going public about it himself, I’m sure someone else will do it for him.

Police have charged the 20-year old with reckless conduct likely to cause . And so they should serious injury, dangerous driving, and failure to have control of a motor vehicle.

Let’s hope the courts throw the book at him when he goes to court on April 3rd.

This illustrates why young drivers – especially male ones – throughout the world have the most accidents. It’s because for the majority of them, until their brains mature, they’re technically prats.

DSA Advice: Motorways

I forgot to post this one, which came in on Boxing Day. It concerns motorways:

Rule 266

Approaching a junction. Look well ahead for signals or signs. Direction signs may be placed over the road. If you need to change lanes, do so in good time.

At some junctions a lane may lead directly off the motorway. Only get in that lane if you wish to go in the direction indicated on the overhead signs.

Timely advice – at any time of year.

DSA Advice: Alcohol And Drugs

Slightly late in terms of the Christmas period, but the latest advice from the DSA concerns the use of alcohol and drugs when driving:

Rule 95

Do not drink and drive as it will seriously affect your judgement and abilities. You MUST NOT drive with a breath alcohol level higher than 35 microgrammes/100 millilitres of breath or a blood alcohol level of more than 80 milligrammes/100 millilitres of blood.

Alcohol will:

  • give a false sense of confidence reduce co-ordination and slow down reactions
  • affect judgement of speed, distance and risk
  • reduce your driving ability, even if you’re below the legal limit
  • take time to leave your body; you may be unfit to drive in the evening after drinking at lunchtime, or in the morning after drinking the previous evening

The best solution is not to drink at all when planning to drive because any amount of alcohol affects your ability to drive safely. If you are going to drink, arrange another means of transport.

Judging from the media stories, a lot of people ignored this over Christmas.

Don’t Spill That Drink!

Some strange things come in on the newsfeeds. A recent one was from a Yahoo! question someone had asked about a film they saw where the driving examiner put a cup of coffee on the dashboard and told the candidate they would pass if they didn’t spill any A Cup of Teaduring the test.

Apparently, the film (American) was called License to Drive (1988), and you can see the clip on YouTube.

I use the same technique sometimes. Not with an actual drink – I’d just get wet if I did that – but if I have a pupil who tends to drive and brake a bit unevenly (e.g. “like a sack of spanners falling down some stairs” is one description I have used before), I might suggest that they imagine they have a cup of tea sitting on the dashboard and that they should try to avoid sloshing any of it into the saucer as they move off and stop. It’s surprising how often it works.

Mind you, before the benefits have kicked in there are other occasions where if we’d been using a real cup and saucer it would have ended up through the windscreen and 20 feet down the road.

Body Mass And Alcohol Tolerance

This time of year, all the newspapers are filled to the brim with stories about alcohol – primarily because it’s also the time when the police launch their Christmas and New Year drink drive campaigns.

If you search the internet, just about every source says that body mass affects direct alcohol absorption, and that generally, smaller people will be affected by less alcohol than larger people. The sources in question are reputable, and include scientific references. This one, for example, is by the Indiana School of Medicine and it says:

There are gender differences in body composition, with women having a lower proportion of total body water compared to men, even if they have the same weight. Thus, if a woman and a man, who both have the same weight, consume the same amount of alcohol, the woman would achieve higher blood alcohol levels compared to the man.

And the American National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) says:

Regardless of how much a person consumes, the body can only metabolize a certain amount of alcohol every hour (2). That amount varies widely among individuals and depends on a range of factors, including liver size (1) and body mass.

These are just two examples I quickly found via Google – there are many, many more all saying more or less the same thing. That’s why people frequently talk of body mass when they refer to how quickly someone can get drunk. What you’ve eaten, and how much, also affects alcohol absorption.

So it comes as a bit of a surprise to see a story in the newsfeeds which says Body Size Doesn’t Affect Drink Driving Limit, Research Reveals.

In actual fact, the “research” consisted of the following:

A man weighing 11st 6lb (73kg) and just under 5ft 10in (177cm) tall and a woman weighing 9st 6lb (60kg) and 5ft 5in (165cm) were tested after consuming the same amount of alcohol.

Let me just explain that this is absolutely not “research”. It’s no better than using a questionnaire given to 10 people coming out of the local Conservative Club and using the results to determine what the outcome of a General Election would be. And it’s laughable that the Huffington Post should be so stupid as to effectively do exactly that by believing Direct Line – the people pretending to be “researchers” in this case – and reporting this utter nonsense.

Direct Line’s “data” prove absolutely nothing that could be applied to the general population.

Drinking and driving is stupid, so don’t do it. But don’t make stuff up to try and lever it.