October 30, 2015

Motorists rash enough to stray beyond this country’s well-ordered and salubrious towns, cities, and major transport arteries, are basically asking for it.

Latest figures released by the Department for Transport (D4T) reveal that driving in the countryside is more or less tantamount to asking to be killed.

Almost a thousand people died last year on Britain’s country roads, with almost as many again maimed, disfigured, or otherwise seriously injured.

In the light of these figures, singing along to John Denver’s classic Take Me Home Country Roads whilst tootling around England’s green and pleasant could have more in common with the wish expressed by long-suffering nineteenth century African American slaves mournfully inviting low-swinging chariots (tumbrils for the dead)) to carry them ‘home’.

Its wearily heart-felt expression of the wish to die and find a peace through union with God in the afterlife, in fact, makes Swing Low Sweet Chariot a singularly appropriate anthem both for country drivers and for the countless English rugby union fans who bellow it out whilst encouraging their national team to flee the slings and arrows of sporting competition at the first opportunity and rush headlong into the warm embrace of well-deserved oblivion.

Attempting the hilarious hand gestures that so elegantly embellish Swing Low when performed in various rugby clubs and stadia should not, of course, be attempted behind the wheel, other than by those most urgently intent on getting the deed of self-annihilation done and dusted.

Then again, as even the most casual of observers (those that have lived to tell the tale) will surely have noticed, most of those driving in the country do indeed have a pretty well-developed death wish.

Almost a quarter of them admitted in a survey carried out by D4T that they tend to brake too late on bends, while two out of five say they like to swerve around whenever they see something like a pheasant or a badger or a vicar in the road.

Younger country drivers seem in a particular hurry to meet their maker, with one in six saying they like to take ‘a racing line’, crossing onto the opposite lane when cornering in order to hurl themselves the more celeritously into the path of whatever may turn out to be oncoming in the opposite direction.

Unless, of course, it turns out to be another death-wish teen, in which case they’ll cross over harmlessly – postponing by another hour or two the need to call the local emergency services and/or a band of angels, depending on how close the racers in question have brought themselves to release from their earthly cares.

Stick to town’s your best bet, really.

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