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Driving less

9 Jul

A couple of years ago I was taking out a new insurance policy for the car and happily bunged in 12000 miles per annum. At the time it triggered memories of doing over 30,000 a year and more, but my days as a road warrior were long over by then.

It was later that year when I was filing my new MoT certificate that I noticed the mileage for the current and last tests; less than 6,000 miles. Could that be true? I checked other documentation and the car odometer and yes, it was true. Thinking about it it had to be correct and it made me realise how little I was driving these days.

I do a 3 mile each way commute on 5 days of the week plus the occasional run to an auction room anything up to 30 miles away. A monthly 30 mile round trip to Cirencester on business and a weekly run to one of Swindon’s fine supermarkets and that is about it. These days I actually do nearly as many miles in one of my 3 week visits to the USA as I do in a year here for over there I usually put over 4000 miles on my rental by the time I return it at the airport.

Gone are the days of doing Manchester or even Newcastle and back in a day without batting an eyelid, of launching out and putting in a couple of hundred miles taking the Berkshire Belle shopping somewhere new on a Saturday or Sunday (and often both). It also explains something else that had begun to bother me.

I had started to feel a bit twitchy driving on some major roads and motorways here in the UK. In the US I was fine, but here I had started to lose confidence and I am sure now that it is simply down to practice, or a lack of it. A bit like anything that you do a lot so that it is second nature and then find yourself a bit clumsy when you don’t do it so much. Now that I have it worked out the problem has largely gone away and that it perhaps helped by my current car being a bit better than what I was driving when I first noticed the issue.

I have also, tom some degree, fallen out of love with driving. There were times when I would just drive for the fun of it. I would make time to take convoluted routes just to go on interesting roads. There was less traffic then, cars were simpler and had no driving aids to speak of and you could have fun at whatever speed you felt safe at. I have never been a madman with speed, but there are roads where you could safely drive a lot faster than what it said on the sign.

Such things are no longer possible, or desirable, and it makes driving more of a chore on the public highway. Some of the most fun that I have had in the last 20 odd years was when I had my Land Rover Freelander and had the half day session at Eastnor Castle off road. There I could test my skills, such as they were, in safety and under supervision. Driving is not all about speed, more about control of the vehicle and that is what I have enjoyed since my first experiences behind the wheel.

How many more pleasurable experiences driving will I get? I am not that far off 70 and the point where I have to renew my licence. I have to accept that my driving days are in their twilight, but that is the way it is. I have a lot of good memories and have had experiences behind the wheel beyond what I might have dreamt of when I first longed to do so.