'Original Stig' warns over speed and phones as Garmin plot clearer routes
First look in London: Garmin Navigation
It was extraordinary to hear 'The Original Stig' from Top Gear say he now drives slower than many 'White Van' men. But that's Perry McCarthy's way of saying we all need to be far more cautious.
He and I had some banter over what I called the 'glorification' of speed on shows like Top Gear but he is a man clearly on a 'Slow Down' mission for all drivers.
His appeal and warnings came at the unveiling of new products from Garmin in London. Their upgraded portable navigation devices will no longer be known as Garmin nuvi - but will be Garmin DRIVE: now called Drive, DriveSmart, DriveAssist and DriveLuxe. Entry-level now includes a pre-drive route preview and warnings on upcoming bends, crossings, fatigue etc. You still get free lifetime maps.
Next up is DriveSmart with 5ins, 6ins or 7ins pinch-to-zoom display. It has text and social media alerts (reads out text) as well as voice control and Bluetooth hands-free. The system refreshes every minute and they claim traffic advice is accurate to within 10 meters.
DriveAssist has a dash cam and alerts you if you're too close to the car in front as well as lane departure warning. And top-of-range DriveLuxe has automatic dual orientation. Prices range from €133 to €400.
Perry endorsed the products on the basis they contribute to safer driving. He says he doesn't do that lightly. Interesting to hear him say he concentrates so much on his own public-road driving nowadays that he doesn't even listen to the radio.
Speaking to 'Motors', he said he doesn't believe programmes such as Top Gear glamourise speed. Carmakers have a responsibility too, he argued. I'm not so sure. He did agree there is the risk of impressionable people trying to emulate their heroes.
In contrast with his speedy past, he believes there should be an engine-size limit on cars driven by young people/recent full-licence holders.
He spoke with great feeling of his horror at seeing so many people killed or injured on roads and is "concerned" about the standard of driving and how little attention people pay at the wheel. "People are distracted. Too many people think driving is about sitting in their lounge."
People think they can get away with phoning at the wheel because of lack of enforcement and checks. Those using a phone "in this bit of metal travelling at 60mph" should be made acutely aware they are running a massive risk and face a real prospect of being jailed.
Finally, he (again) praised the potential safety benefits from current products and technologies such as Lane Assist, Collision warning, proximity warnings etc. He's a man on a mission alright.