Truth in advertising!

From the Sydney Morning Herald:

Living in Italy 30 years ago for a season of club rugby, I was always stunned at the Italians’ skill at traffic lights.

In Australia, of course, with 10 cars lined up, first number one goes, then number two goes, then number three, etc – whereas in Italy 30 cars move forward on green, simultaneously! (Unless, of course, you are the dickhead Australian in the tiny Fiat, just arrived, who doesn’t get it.)

There is a careless genius about them on the roads, and it endures still, as witnessed by a story sent to me this week by a reader. He notes the outcry in Italy over compulsory wearing of seatbelts, and how many cars now won’t start unless everyone is buckled up.

What is now racing off the shelves however, is a fake seat belt buckle, no belt, which placates the vehicle’s alarm system. The company selling these gadgets notes on its website, “an alarm is useful because it reminds us to wear an accessory that most likely, in case of collision, will save lives. But if we care little about our lives and don’t mind flying through the windshield, we can purchase a Null Seat Belt. Once inserted, the alarm will stop bothering us and allow us to die in peace’.”

Uh . . . yeah, I guess so!



  1. Regarding starting at traffic lights, it (sorry) drives me crazy that so many Americans cannot master what I perceive as a simple skill: paying attention. If you are behind the wheel, your attention should be on driving, not your cell phone, not your passengers, not the attractive person in a nearby car, not the radio, etc. I often see cars whose drivers cannot seem to begin to move until the car in front of them is five or eight car lengths away. (And in some cases, it's not inattention. Some idiots do this as a matter of routine, as I have been behind such morons at several successive lights. No wonder my blood pressure is high.)

    Just as bad is when the driver at the front of the line is asleep at the wheel. Often, I am several cars back and need to honk, because no one else is paying attention, either. Obviously I don't live in New York.

    And don't get me started on people that cannot seem to understand traffic circles or right-turn-only lanes. Good thing I don't have one of those James Bond cars with the little missiles for clearing the road ahead.

  2. In Taiwan, a 6-lane one-way street. The light changes and a guy in the far right lane makes a left turn — and makes it!

  3. I'll line up with Chris (above) on this.

    There was a time long, long ago, in a very few places, where Americans actually drove their cars. Now, it seems people do everything but drive their car: Cell phones, radios, makeup, children, pets, sunshine, pretty knobs on the dashboard, you name it, all are more important than driving the $&@#*^% car. Chris identifies a common ailment: focusing on the back of the car in front of you to the exclusion of all else.

    This is not just a 19th Amendment issue, although that does have a large impact; there are more than enough Y chromosome idiots to fill the gap should we ban women from operating automobiles (while the Saudis, among others, persist in totally absurd 7th century beliefs, they may be on to something with not letting women drive. Having experienced Saudi traffic, however, they might want to consider banning men from behind the wheel as well).

    Chris, if you want to start a campaign mandating lifetime ambulation for those incapable of managing a motor vehicle, I'm on board. I'd prefer roadside executions for vehicular incompetence, but one step at a time.

  4. As far as seat belts go, I use them, and have benefited from them once. However, my father refused to use them, and could cite at least 3 incidents that would have been fatal, to him, if he had been strapped in. My sisters and I would not be here, in that case. He worked in the autobody repair and towing business all his life, so he was well aware of the pros and cons of seat belts. He raced NASCAR style, back when it was on dirt tracks, in the 40/50's, before belts were used. Overall I think they should be used, but not mandated.

    Part of the problem here in the US, is that people are not really trained to drive, they are taught to operate a car. Big difference. Mindset is everything.

  5. I can't remember where I read it, but I agree with it:

    "We do not need seat belts, air bags or speed-limited cars. Do away with all these things, and replace them with a six-inch steel spike protruding from the middle of the steering wheel.

    "Driving safely will, for all but the most dense, immediately become Priority One."

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