'The rest of the world is better at handling transport and motoring than us'

The rest of the world is far greater at dealing with cars and transportation than the UK, says Mike Rutherford

OPINION Foreign Traffic

I travelled, almost monthly, to The Americas, North East Asia and mainland Europe in 2019. So I can confirm what I’ve long suspected: in these and other parts of the world, they usually handle cars/motoring/transport better and more fairly than we do.

So why doesn’t our government and industry look, listen, learn, and steal a few ideas from our friends? For example, by adopting the US system of turning right – left here – at red lights (with no pedestrians, vehicles etc to hit) we’d massively improve traffic and emissions. A greatly reduced, strictly enforced daytime speed limit outside schools in term times is another no-brainer. As is visible proof of car insurance.

•  Best electric cars to buy

Also a must is introducing the lucrative Swiss-style vignette system, which would let us mandate HGV drivers/owners landing at British ports to buy annual, scannable windscreen stickers before driving on our motorways. Purchases could be made online or at ports, and via cards only, so we’d have records of those coming and going. Also, an incoming driver or firm with unpaid fines or fees should be refused entry to Blighty unless the debts are cleared dockside. While we’re at it, let’s build a network of tree-lined lorry parks and truck stops by major A-roads and motorways. They’ll be the only places for truckers to park, pee and shower overnight – for a flat, not fat, fee.

Another mainland Europe-related issue worth investigating is how their motorways seem to be almost maintenance-free, while ours are in constant need of repair. And a very different line of enquiry must look into how train fares are so reasonably priced on the Continent, yet suspiciously (and, only this month, increasingly) expensive in Britain. It’s high time, I reckon, for a showdown between the government and the rail industry. 

Other imports worth having? Global car companies offering 10-year powertrain warranties in the US have to do the same in the UK; car park operators and retailers here could easily adopt the South Korean system of free parking for consumers with receipts to prove they’ve spent a certain amount in local shops and eateries; Mexican-style ‘Colectivo’ 12-seater car-vans could largely take over from our stupidly large rural buses; multi-storey car-vending machines seen in parts of North America would be welcome for those keen to avoid pushy salesmen. Also required are state aid programmes for job-creating start-ups and longer-established firms. Someone like James Dyson or Richard Branson, for example, could perhaps be incentivised to convert the old-tech, Swindon plant Honda is about to mothball into a state-of-the-art EV or battery facility.

One import I’m less keen on is Carlos Ghosn; earlier this month the recently ousted Nissan boss acquired international fugitive status. We’ve seen juicy stories in the global automotive industry before, but this saga looks set to emerge as a tale worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster. And while Ghosn is far from the nicest bloke I’ve interviewed, I can’t wait for my favourite actor, Benicio del Toro, to play Carlos in the movie, Ghosn Is Gone. Or, Jim Carrey could star in Going, Going, Ghosn, the tragi-comic alternative.

Do you agree with Mike? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below... 

Recommended

'This really is a great time to buy a new car'
Opinion dealership
Opinion

'This really is a great time to buy a new car'

Steve Fowler points out some great new car deals to be had in post-lockdown
14 Apr 2021
'Some traditions need to be abandoned, and working 9-5 is one of them'
Opinion commute
Opinion

'Some traditions need to be abandoned, and working 9-5 is one of them'

Britain needs to re-think its approach to commuting, according to Mike Rutherford
11 Apr 2021
'It's clear that lorry drivers deserve much-improved working conditions'
Truck
Opinion

'It's clear that lorry drivers deserve much-improved working conditions'

Mike Rutherford proposes some alternative options to help streamline British imports and exports
23 Jan 2021
'Gordon Murray is my British motor industry person of 2020'
Opinion

'Gordon Murray is my British motor industry person of 2020'

Mike Rutherford highlights his positive car industry stories of 2020
4 Jan 2021

Most Popular

Next-generation Range Rover Sport to get racy new look
Range Rover Sport render
News

Next-generation Range Rover Sport to get racy new look

Our exclusive images preview what the upcoming Range Rover Sport could look like
12 May 2021
New Cupra Leon 2021 review
Cupra Leon - front
SEAT Leon Cupra

New Cupra Leon 2021 review

The new Cupra Leon shares much with the VW Golf GTI Clubsport, but is more focused and cheaper
13 May 2021
Sporty new Range Rover Evoque P300 HST launched
Range Rover Evoque HST
Land Rover Range Rover Evoque SUV

Sporty new Range Rover Evoque P300 HST launched

New Range Rover Evoque P300 HST comes with 296bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol power
12 May 2021