Thank Goodness for the Nanny State

There have always been times when we have gone to Recovery jobs and then said “That was a bit unnecessary”. I recently mentioned a call to a job to fit a number plate light bulb because the driver, to quote him, “Had had one or two glasses of wine.” At least he had thought it out and was using his brain and his Membership to hopefully keep his driving licence. But we are all now very much aware that if it was not for wheel changes and flat batteries we would have even less work.

It seems in this day and age no motorist would ever consider changing his own punctured wheel; that is even if he has one. It really is amazing how that spare wheel has disappeared, when a puncture with no such item, causes no end of inconvenience and difficulty. We have all seen cars recovered 400/500 miles round trip through having no spare wheel as standard.

While flat batteries are a little bit different, how many flat batteries are caused by ineptness or even stupidity of the drivers. Does anyone actually know that nothing is for free and even using a piece of electrical equipment on a car, the power has to come from somewhere and a battery is only a short-term storage unit. If ever it snows and traffic is queueing in the hours of darkness, there is hardly a car that does not have every single electrical component switched on. And with the car at idle and a maybe not so good battery, it is only a matter of time before we see all these cars left abandoned on the foot path; only to be jump started the next morning, and off they go.

Even in the summer we are seeing an increasing number of people who on a hot day, like two we had last year, will sit with the engine switched off and all the heater fans blowing cold. There is no two ways about it most people nowadays haven’t a clue how a car works, no more than they know where the water comes from when they turn the tap on at home.

The lack of street-wise and commonsense is not even restricted to grown ups. I once said to a youngster, who was in Reception, about the time of the First Gulf War, when the newspapers and news were littered with burning oil wells. I asked this youngster if he knew where oil came from. He replied: “Yes, you can get it at Halfords.” But the worst part was that he actually believed himself.

I ask myself why are motorists, in fact people generally, not able to make a decision for themselves; in other words using a little bit of common sense to challenge the Establishment.

Another situation we all benefit from is that if a car is involved in any sort of incident, no matter how small, perhaps a broken mirror, and the driver contacts their insurance company, they will be given a stern lecture of how the vehicle must not be driven or there will be serious consequences, which of course immediately grounds the motorist if they have no more sense, but gives us another job: another £40 job: which asks another important question.

If we are running on a Recovery Road Tax with no tachograph, working locally and we have a “disabled vehicle” on the back of the truck, where the only damage is a cracked wing mirror or a scuffed bumper, are we carrying a disabled vehicle. I think I will allow other people to decide.

We really have to thank ourselves for the incompetence that motorists now display.

How many flat batteries have we all attended where the car has been on a slope. In fact, can anyone under the age of 35 bump start a car; which means that anybody with a starter motor fault falls into the same category and needs recovering. I have bump started a car with a starter motor problem just to get it out of a tight spot. Offering the customer the chance of driving home with it and they have indicated, beyond all reasonable doubt, that they would not be able to get home without the risk of stalling.

How many other calls have we had which would be classed as unnecessary for which, of course, we should be grateful. Just last Saturday we were called to a new VW UP, with the member claiming that a warning light was showing on the dashboard. On arrival the light had mysteriously disappeared, but on investigation it was found to be the frost alert light. We had had four days of frost but by Saturday lunchtime it was +5. I still think we get a disproportionate number of cars running out of fuel, but the difference is now we are told, in no uncertain terms it can’t be out of fuel because the countdown trip still has four miles left. And, Oh! Yes! We did not look at the fuel gauge or light, because according to our motorists, these things are not accurate.

How can we forget the non-start because the clutch was not depressed, or the steering lock stuck because it was under load against the kerb: – even the Automatic still in drive. I have lost count of the “fob won’t work” – I never use the key! We won’t even get involved with ABS, traction control or steering faults, Sorry you mean a simple skid.

Most times we are irritated and we are frustrated but sometimes it can be quite entertaining.

We once went to an older sort of chap who had just bought a new car and on arriving home he could not get the alarm to stop, despite locking and unlocking the doors several times. He readily accepted that it was his inexperience and called his Breakdown Service – ourselves. On arrival, all our operative had to do was to point out that his car was in perfect order and it was his house alarm that was making the noise. Sadly, while he had been picking up his new car, somebody had broken into the rear and activated his alarm. It would have been funny if his Television had not been stolen. It amazes me that one or two of the neighbours had not told him.

Then that is another modern philosophy. Don’t get involved, they might sue you.

So all we can hope for now and in the future is lots of cars with no spare wheels, over-loaded with electrical components and fitted with small batteries to save weight. Driven by lettuce eating Friends of the Earth who do not know one end of a screwdriver from the other and we might actually make a bit of money from them.


Fred Henderson

Breakdown Doctor (not mind reader)