Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Happiness is NOT a ‘car park’ called the M62 - Guest Author - Paul Loughlin

Does it make you happy sitting at the traffic lights watching a guy in a Volkswagen Passat, who is unavoidably in your eye line, going to great lengths clearing out the contents of his nose with his finger?! Me neither! With today being National Happiness Day I took some time to think about how driving can make me happy… or in deed quite the opposite!

Many of my team at the Manchester office, myself included,  have a peak hour commute that can feel like a working day before getting into the office, such is their commitment to the cause! In fact many of us are increasingly having to suffer these journeys. TomTom released the 6th edition of its Traffic Index in November 2013 which showed that on average British commuters are spending 9 working days per year stuck in traffic.

It is unsurprising then that we are receiving a number of enquiries on a daily basis relating to incidents where inconsiderate driving or even in some situations dangerous driving has been alleged. A number of people are looking to defend or to plead guilty and mitigate for a moment of madness caused by the build-up of stress on the roads.

The impact of the build-up of stress and anxiety on the roads is such that a concept is being developed by researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology to embed facial recognition into steering wheels. This is aimed to detect angry or upset drivers! Amongst its other features is to measure the percentage of eyelid closure for drivers to detect driver fatigue.

This is clearly a sign that driving and the stresses associated with it is becoming more and more relevant in everyday lives. Everything we do on the roads now is scrutinised to the extent that the man picking his nose could be cited by the police officer driving in the lane next to him for not being in proper control of his vehicle (an offence that carries 3 penalty points and a £100 fine).  Just as easily, an incident of road rage stemming from a frustrating morning of stop/start traffic on the M62 could lead to being reported for dangerous driving if you undertake a particularly frustrating ‘fast’ lane driver.

A study carried out by Three Barrels Brandy in 2011 found that out of the top 50 things that make us happy only three of them related to driving:
  • At number 46 was the unexpected joy of being given an unexpired car parking ticket by someone leaving the car park on your arrival.
  • Slightly higher was the feeling of passing your driving test which was placed at number 42.
  •  As high as number 12 was the feeling of letting go when you drive with your window down on a sunny day.

The thought of driving in modern Britain is more likely to fill people with dread and anxiety rather than thinking of the stress releasing feeling of driving on the open road, with your window down on a sunny day with your favourite Oasis songs blurring from your stereo. Even then you have to be aware not to get too enthusiastic to the extent that you inadvertently go over the speed limit and get caught by a speed camera you were unaware of or a mobile unit you didn’t see until the last minute!

We at Geoffrey Miller Solicitors specialise in all matters relating to driving offences and are here to make sure that your driving experience, happy or not, can continue by helping to keep hundreds of motorists on the road each year and making sure that the demands of modern life can be met and ultimately keeping you happy!

Guest Blog Author  - Paul Loughlin

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