Our columnist Helen Bach asks what Prince Phillip was doing behind the wheel, and the wisdom of driving without a seatbelt, in her column this week...
As far as I’m aware, the only exemptions were drivers of milk floats, not because their lives were worth any less than other road users, just that when they’re driving around at silly o’clock in the morning on an electric milk float at 5mph, they’re hopefully unlikely to be catapulted through the windscreen.
Plus, as they had to keep leaping swiftly in and out of their vehicle, a seatbelt would hamper this speedy manoeuvre, or so the reasoning went, I seem to recall.
I could, of course, be incorrect. It was about 40 years ago and I was very young at the time.
In today’s modern cars, there is an alarming buzzer that rings relentlessly to remind you to put your seatbelt on too, lest you somehow forget.
In my car it screams at such an annoying level that you couldn’t possibly continue driving, as your ears would be bleeding, and that would be extremely unpleasant as well as potentially dangerous.
So to be honest, I was very surprised that the Queen and Prince Philip were both pictured appearing to be driving without seatbelts, just after the Duke of Edinburgh’s car crash on a busy Norfolk road.
Firstly, I was surprised that they were driving themselves. Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t an ageist comment in the slightest. If their eyesight is fine and they’re safe and competent, why shouldn’t older people continue driving?
No, I was surprised that, with the number of staff they have – personal protection officers, chauffeurs etc – they would even want to drive themselves at all.
Personally, I would happily take a back seat and let a professional chauffeur me about!
What with one eye on the potholes, another on the traffic, plus monitoring speed limits, and the sheer volume of cars and lorries, I would much rather sit back, relax and watch the scenery scud past.
Sadly, despite my love of all things automotive, I find there’s little pleasure in driving these days.