Behind the wheel – Chill, Don’t Kill!!

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Keeping your Cool behind the wheel

Family and peer pressure can be a major contributor to you losing your cool on the road.


John had a major disagreement with his father – about something and nothing – even John can’t remember the exact topic. To make matters worse, John sought his mum’s support but she preferred (as lots of mums do) to remain neutral.

John went out, jumped into the car and headed off towards the M6 motorway. The CD went into the slot and before long the car was engulfed by very loud and very heavy Rock Music.

It was autumn and the road surface was damp from some light evening rain.

John‘s anger became even greater on seeing a stream of very slow moving traffic up ahead. The music added further fuel to the fire, as John selected a lower gear and put the accelerator to the floor, before moving out into the third lane.

40, 50, 60, 70 miles per hour – now the car was doing the job for which it was designed – pure cool speed.

His dad? He’d show him who was immature and inconsiderate; and his mum? What a let-down! She’d see who was right as well; Parents, who needs them.

80mph, 90mph and very quickly –ZERO.

The impact was sudden – totally avoidable with forward planning – perhaps like the stream of slow cars was doing earlier.

John was no longer angry, no longer inconsiderate or immature; John was no longer alive.


It had been a great night.

The company “do” which was supposed to be the big social gathering of the staff prior to Christmas. The food was brilliant and for some, the drink was even better!

Sue had vowed never to drink and drive – besides she was saving for that girls’ holiday to Ibiza the following summer, so the money she saved on drink would all go into the pot.

She wouldn’t skimp on servicing her car though – her dad, initially considered boring, had insisted that it was regularly checked and never had cheap or second hand parts fitted, no matter how economical it seemed at the time.

She was however, becoming more and more frustrated by the adolescent antics of one of her back-seat passengers; Dave from her office was really drunk, Sophie was busy repelling his unwanted attentions and Cherie was threatening to throw up at any moment.

These distractions eventually proved to be too much for the inexperienced Sue, as she misjudge bend, in her efforts to unload her passengers on the estate.

A dry stone wall line either side of the road at the point where Sue entered the right-hand bend.

She braked and felt the rear end slide a little to the left – only to provoke great hoots of derision from the back seats – from everyone that is, who wasn’t being sick.

Sue left the road at a little over 30 miles per hour and fortunately skidded along a grassed area before stopping with the aid of a picket fence.

Sue was lucky – John wasn’t. External pressures and loud booming music combined with some road rage and poor weather, to seal John’s fate.

Peer pressure, loud music, weather conditions and the distraction caused by revelling passengers, almost condemned Sue to a similar fate.

And one other thing – yes, she had been encouraged not to skimp on car maintenance all right – but what a pity this attention had not been applied to her tyres.

I also went through a similar phase – like most young drivers. Jimmi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin at 140 Decibels – king of the road in my 1275GT mini – until it failed its MOT and provided the mechanic with the best laugh he’d had in years.

So much rust and corrosion – so many dangerous components – it was even too bad to scrap.

Sadly, scrap it is exactly what I had to do, but the thoughts of that car literally coming apart at speed, was the stuff of nightmares for a long time afterwards.


Now, I have been an Approved Driving Instructor for around 20 years, with an ORDIT qualification to tutor potential Instructors and a BTEC Level 4 Professional qualification in Coaching for Driver Education.

I took the course to gain P.T.T.L.L.L.S – Preparing to teach Lifelong Learning Skills, yet I have never forgotten that Mini, nor the fact that youthful exuberance will always exist – as will the advice from a mentor or parent.


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