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Terry Prone: Terrifying risks of the halfwits who think they will live forever

When it was up on YouTube, it was quite professional. It had credits and all. It wasn't called "Dude, Where's my Car?" But it should have been entitled "Dude, Where's my Brains?"

You can't look at it any more. It's been taken down and the Road Safety Authority (RSA) is livid that it was ever available for viewing. Indeed, the RSA and the gardai will be searching their saved version of the footage, frame by frame, to see if they can identify the culprits.

They're in it together, that's the first thing. Young guys in their cars, out for a bit of entertainment on a country road in summer. It was probably filmed before the Donegal horror crash made us all super-sensitive to the issue of road safety, but the timing is not the issue. The fact that this cluster of pals set out to film themselves while they put their own and other people's lives in danger is the issue.

We can see they're driving on a road with an unbroken white line down the middle. Now, to ordinary sensible people, an unbroken white line says, "Dodgy bit of the road. Do not overtake. Take extra care."

What the unbroken white line seems to have said to these reckless halfwits is, "Exciting bit of the road. Overtake. Take extra risks." It doesn't matter to them that other cars are on the road and that somebody could, as a result of their playacting, end up as a bloodied corpse. All that matters is the fun they're having, and no doubt the prospect of the thrill of uploading the edited footage to YouTube to create a bunch of fans from their own risk-loving age cohort.

In one of the clips, the driver has his legs hanging out of the window. Yes. That's right. The DRIVER. In another, a passenger hangs his body outside the car to such an extent, you wonder how he doesn't part company with the vehicle and splatter himself on the road. You watch through splayed fingers, shivering with the possibility that his head will encounter the branch of a tree or a lamp post at speed and scatter his brains everywhere. If he has any brains, that is.

The kind way to interpret it is that it's just kids messing. The reality is more shocking. What the film shows is a bunch of mates who treat cars like toys and who see the road as their playground. If they did this in a fairground, the operators would cut the power to the bumper cars and throw them out. But this not a fairground. This is a road and these are cars with a lot of power under their bonnets, even if one of them is a Toyota that's about 17 years old.

These are not boy racers. These are young men who believe themselves invulnerable. Uncle Gaybo talks about it all the time, the fact that lads in their late teens and early twenties think they're going to live forever. They are ten times more likely to die at the wheel of a car than are women drivers of the same age, because they see cars on the road as entertainment, as a means of self-expression. It's not real to them, the danger. It's like a computer game. Upskilling them, as the Government plans to do, won't remove the recklessness that causes the accidents they have. The tragedy of the YouTube footage is that these guys are not lacking in skill. They're just disconnected from human reality. They're exhibitionist gobshites playing with other people's lives.

And they may have infected thousands of others like them with the desire to do copy-cat performances.


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