I believe it was TV motoring presenter Jeremy Clarkson who opined once that the best car safety measure would be to remove all drivers’ airbags and replace them with large metal spikes.
Imagine how carefully everyone would drive then.
The notion is clearly ridiculous but there is a grain of truth in it.
The more safety devices we have in cars, the more some of us take risks on the road, thus negating all those high-tech efforts to avoid crashes.
This fact was brought home to me while driving our long-term Citroen Relay the other day, shortly before the vehicle was returned to its owner after its three-month stint with us.
The Relay is the most basic model in the range and doesn’t come equipped with airbags or ABS brakes and I suddenly realised that I was driving much more slowly than I would normally do.
Yes, before all you road safety experts start writing in and telling me that only a fool drives faster in a vehicle equipped with ABS, ESP etc, I know that I’m in the wrong.
But I’m sure most drivers are like me – give them a fast car with a bunch of safety gizmos and they’ll be off like a shot.
However, back to our Relay.
The sleet was sleeting, the roads were icy and yours truly had 250 miles to travel.
Number one son was returning home for the umpteenth time after four years – just when I thought I had got shot of him for good.
And in those four years, said son had accumulated a van load of detritus which he (naturally) expected dad to come and collect. At least it would be a good test of our Relay’s load-carrying capabilities.
I arrived at the lad’s house (which rather resembled the set of the TV comedy The Young Ones) and looking at all the gear, I started to doubt that I would get everything in.
The Relay swallowed it all easily in the end and on the journey home I immediately noticed how much better the van was riding – with some weight in the rear it had lost that skittishness that plagues the handling of empty LCVs.
The downside was that the load knocked a fair amount of acceleration off the 86bhp powerplant.
Mind you, under the weather circumstances, that probably wasn’t a bad thing.
The seat proved a Godsend too. It was firm and supportive and gave me no hint of back twinges during that long haul.
As all the contents were emptied into my little home, I reflected that for £10,000 there surely can’t be a more useful vehicle for the price. It’s a little cracker.