Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Annoyance Association

A variety of largely useless detritus arrives to fill up my inbox every morning, and of this it’s often the AA’s press releases that cause me most concern. Here is one of the oldest motoring organisations in the world, yet paradoxically it seems to have adopted a deeply conservative, almost anti-car stance. It also appears to have a conspicuously pro-government agenda with numerous polls showing support for Westminster’s spin campaigns and revenue-generating initiatives.

‘The vehicle scrappage scheme will not only pump an extra £2 billion turnover into the UK’s ailing car sector but give the country’s most disadvantaged drivers a lift,’ proclaims one press release. Really? So if you’re one of the most disadvantaged drivers in the UK you have a spare £5,000 or so for a new car after the government’s scrappage scheme? Interesting... Now take the next headline: Car power modification could boost teenage death toll! ‘Increasing the power of a car engine often pushes both the driver and the car beyond their limitations,’ it warns. Quite right – young scallywags, what will they think of next?

If you think you can hear the AA banging its walking stick on the floor, muttering incoherently about the youth of today and ranting about the dangers of exceeding 40mph, then don’t dismiss it just yet. There are important, earth shattering questions as ‘should Britain’s road signs go metric?’ still being addressed by the association. And how else would we find out that ‘drivers slowing down to save fuel could lead to a reduction in accidents and deaths’? Hardcore, adrenaline packed stuff...

I suppose it could be argued I’m missing the point here. It’s possibly no surprise that something over a hundred years old might come accross as a bit stuffy and old-school. But here’s the thing: When the group destined to become the AA first met on the 29th of June 1905 their stated aims were to promote the exciting new sport of motoring and help drivers combat over-zealous policing and the use of speed traps. With that in mind it seems rather sad that the AA has become a politically impotent old boys’ club, tucked up with the government like the motoring world’s ministry of information. But if they really have to adopt that line then why, oh why, can’t they do so quietly and stop bombarding my email system?

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