There were eight in the bed and the little one said

This one sounds comical and serious (it is both) but there is another message in it. A teacher from London has been charged with dangerous driving after having been stopped with 13 people in his Volvo.

Clearly this was a very silly thing to do let alone dangerous. Although it grossly overstates the case, there is, however, another issue hiding in here which might be worth a brief debate. Most of us will remember being piled into cars as children. It was considered perfectly reasonable to have four people in the back of a family car. Now the maximum unless one has a people carrier, 4×4 or estate with three rows of seats is three in the back and two in the front. Hence, if someone has three children and wants to bring say Granny it is no longer possible without larger cars which of course produce more pollution. Whilst there are quite economical people carriers and indeed safety in cars is important one cannot help wondering whether or not a law of unintended consequences is in play here. Any thoughts?

  • joeCanuck

    Room for granny up top a la National Lampoon.

  • Turgon

    Thanks Nevin, will probably do another Zimbabwe blog soon any other good Zim blog sites? I have a few Kenya places to visit but none there.

  • aquifer

    Fair enough, lets follow the logic of this and prosecute every big 4 x 4 driver without mud on their tyres for being in possession of a deadly weapon.

  • I was in touch with Cathy about seven years ago, passed one of her letters to some US media contacts, got a quick response from the Washington Times and a long letter in her name was published a few days later. Cathy’s letter had been emailed to me by a distant relation, a South African born journalist who has a great interest in the cultures of the native peoples of southern Africa.

  • Granni Trixie

    To me this is a simple issue resolved by reference to safety: wearing a seatbelt saves lives….a car should be allowed to carry as many people as there are seatbelts. I was once in a car crash and am convinced that my seatbelt saved my life (others badly injured were not wearing seatbelts). So this granny would rather be left behind than travel with the rest of the family in a car without adequate seatbelts.

  • It is a big issue for families, made worse by suggestions of imposing carbon taxes etc. Government should take into account seat number and not just impose taxes based on engine size. The alternative for families is to buy really old vehicles with no seatbelts in the back.

  • Rory

    Wouldn’t it just be simpler if we all returned to horseback? Fuel would not be much of a problem, what with global warming, as everyone knows it is best to “make hay while the sun shines”.

  • Jon Juan

    Apologies in advance for a meandering and inconclusive post.

    I remember travelling in an old Ford Cortina as one of eleven – seven in the back and four in the front. Even twenty five years ago, we were warned to keep our heads down. I can’t imagine it now, and I always think of a 2005 accident in England- passing sentence on the driver of an overcrowded car.

    More recently, in West Africa, I was one of nine in a two-row taxi – all adults. Also four in the front, with the driver changing gears between the legs of one of the passengers. We paid in advance so that the driver could buy petrol. Somehow, we all wore seatbelts (mostly shared…)

    I never liked travelling in the boot, but the transport box of a tractor along a main road was always an adventure.

    Unrelated, on Africa, there was an interesting article on land, colonial and post-colonial politics, and ethnicity in Kenya in yesterday’s Guardian, which I thought contrasted usefully with a (quasi-Sluggeresque?) meditation on membership of the Commonwealth I’d read in an online digest of African news and commentary. Thought it might be of interest…

  • joeCanuck

    Solo horseriding might not be a bad suggestion, Rory, especially if you’re a politician.

  • Rory

    Dunno about that, Joe. The best political gossip is often to be had “straight from the hoss’s mouth”.