ARE WE being scared into buying the safest cars? That idea has been bugging me lately because looking at the big picture it can’t be doing our species any good. The last straw came with the latest results from the Euro NCAP safety testing lab.
Well, I say lab, but it’s effectively a warehouse where cars are deliberately crashed into very solid objects to find out how badly they break. It’s a bizarrely old-fashioned thing to do in this day and age of accurate computer simulations and in-depth materials analysis.
But whatever. The results included a three-star score for the decidedly basic Dacia Lodgy; a car built as truly affordable family transport. Stop the presses! Sound the alarms! Only three stars?! Someone call David Cameron!
The reality is that not too many years ago there were no stars. If you hit something it hurt, so you drove with the intention of not hitting anything. Nowadays cars are touted as being safe, with airbags ready to explode out of every crevice like a sudden invasion of small and craftily-hidden zeppelins. As a result, people feel comfortable taking more risks.
You get the impression that the common sense-deprived operators of Euro NCAP will lose sleep over the fact that the Lodgy only got three stars. Big flaming whoop. Whatever happened to personal responsibility? If someone wants to tool around on a road-legal quad bike they’re perfectly allowed to, and if you were to run one of those through Euro NCAP someone at the company would have a coronary.
I wish they’d give us a break. The implication from Euro NCAP’s summary of the Lodgy is that if you have the audacity to drive one you’ll almost certainly be killed instantly. Except you won’t be. I can give you a cast-iron guarantee that millions upon millions of drivers in this country alone successfully made it through the 60s, 70s and 80s, when safety simply meant having wing mirrors.
As time goes on Euro NCAP is coming out with ever-more-urgent proclamations of death and destruction surrounding cars that don’t achieve the maximum five stars. Heaven forbid people should just be allowed to buy the car they want and try not to crash it.
What’s more, a lot of these systems are totally unnecessary for most drivers. Stability control is great and so is ABS, but why the fudge are we paying thousands of pounds extra for ear lobe airbags and big bouncy cushions that pop out of the bonnet if a pedestrian wanders out into the road while invariably wearing headphones?
No. I just won’t stand for it. The law of evolution states (roughly) that those members of a species too stupid to avoid the hazards of the environment they were brought up in will fall foul of it, and that’s life. The remaining individuals can pass their wisdom on to the next generation. Making everything safer and easier just gives a species every excuse it needs to stop trying to better itself; to evolve, and that’s reflected in the declining standard of driving.
If Darwin were still alive today, I bet I know which car he’d drive. It’d be a Lodgy.