Nothing really changes

So I spent two days in Johannesburg on the WesBank SAGMJ Car of the Year competition – my first. Interesting stuff and, after two thoroughly exhausting days, can say that there is much more to it than I originally thought was the case.

The Volvo XC60, Suzuki Alto, Volkswagen Golf VI, Hyundai i20, Audi Q5, Chevrolet Cruze, Fiat MiTo and Toyota Prius were all put through their paces and worked hard to ensure they delivered their best – and worst.
Judging criteria is comprehensive, with a few updates required to bring it in to line with more modern thinking when it comes to automobiles. This isn’t a major sticking point though as the updates are hardly going to make a significant difference to the outcome.
I digress, however, as COTY is not the actual subject of this post. What I actually want to get to here is what I saw while up there in the Big Smoke.
Two particular incidents caught my eye. The first was a VW Citi Golf so full of people that a rear seat passenger was forced to sit with their head and shoulders outside the car. Add to that a full boot and the rear seat loaded to double its actual capacity and you have a scary situation indeed if things go wrong.
The second was a Fiat Uno containing eight people – only one of whom was younger than 16. Apparently the way to accomplish this feat is to place two people in the boot with the other six occupying the seats. Again, not something you would want in an emergency situation.
Ignore for the moment the lack of seat belts for the extra passengers, consider rather the implications for handling (during evasive manouevres) and what will happen when the brakes are used to their full capacity. Those stopping distances are likely to be dramatic.
Problem is, no-one thinks of the consequences until the worst has happened and that is all that is left.
My point is, no matter how often the subject of road safety comes up, no matter how many people get injured or killed, we keep doing the same things.

Author: Morné Condon

Automotive journalist in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, following new models, old cars, car clubs and motorsport. My interests are not restricted to the automotive environment, although this is where I am mostly to be found.

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