I’d like to get one thing straight first off, MTI quite likes Quentin Willson. I won’t go as far as to say we’re best mates with him but some of our “people” met him (even though Quentin didn’t actually realise it) at the recent Automotive Management Used Car Conference at The Birmingham Motorcycle Museum and found him to be a thoroughly decent fellow. OK he breezed in, did the gig and breezed out again but he was an entertaining and knowledgeable presenter and host while he was there.
The one thing that confuses me about him is his seeming ubiquity, certainly as far as the once mighty BBC is concerned, a corporation which now seems to be run by out of touch ivory tower dwellers and lazy journalists who have an agenda for dumbing down the nation.
Of course it’s not just the BBC that’s at fault but their breakfast news in particular seems to be broadcasting to the lowest common denominator alone. That lowest common denominator must be an “educationally challenged” socially dysfunctional village idiot with the brain of a baby.
The other morning, during the height of the recent hazardous winter weather, the BBC Breakfast News ran with an article on how best to get your car warmed up and moving (in the right direction) amidst the snow and ice, pretty topical but also pretty obvious.
Nevertheless we could maybe have expected someone from the AA or RAC to have popped up and given us the usual tips on winter weather driving, tips we’ve heard a thousand times but, like the safety demo on a plane, we all too often ignore or forget. But no up popped the aforementioned Mr motoring ubiquity Quentin Willson and what pearls of wisdom did he impart?
Don’t pour boiling hot water from the kettle onto your windscreen to melt the ice as this may crack the screen. Do we really need to be told this? And should anyone stupid enough to do it really be in possession of a driving licence? But it was the next pearl of wisdom that got Mr Willson in a spot of bother; get the car nicely warmed up and defrosted by leaving your engine running while you have a nice cup of tea in the house but make sure you’ve locked all the doors with the spare key.
Now we’ve all done it I suspect and probably haven’t bothered to hunt down the spare key to lock the car either but the reason it got Quentin in trouble was because if the car is not on your drive then you are actually committing an offence as some of the yet to be dumbded down viewers were quick to point out.
Of course half an hour later Quentin is wheeled out again and starts to backtrack (when you’re in a snow hole stop digging) and says he will have to check up on the “finer points of the law”. He needn’t have looked very much further than a certain Mr Ken Hardman who was given a £30 fixed penalty notice for leaving his engine on to warm up his car during a cold snap back in 2007. He was prosecuted under the Road Traffic Act 1988 offence of ‘quitting’ which is when a person leaves their vehicle’s engine running while they are not in it.
To be more precise Section 42 of the act deals with the construction and use of motor vehicles and Regulation 107(2)(a) of The Road Vehicles (Constriction and Use) Regulation 1986 (SI 1986/1078 ) deals with the actual offence of “quitting”. It states “… that no person shall cause or permit to be on any road any motor vehicle which is not attended by a person duly licensed to drive it unless the engine is stopped and the parking brake is effectively set. Exemptions to the requirements of this Regulation as to the stopping of the engine include a fire brigade vehicle, the engine of which is being used for any fire brigade purpose.”
So unless you’re a fire-fighter you can forget it.
Are we to presume from this that Mr Willson hadn’t thought things through properly? That the knee jerk “call Quentin” approach of lazy BBC researchers – when anything vaguely motoring related becomes topical – might have backfired a bit? (He must have one hell of an agent). Maybe he wrote down his dos and don’ts on the back of a Parkers Guide while being whisked to the studio in a pre-warmed S-Class. Either way we think it’s time the BBC in particular started thinking “outside the box” a little and gave people decent information.
As for Quentin he was wheeled out again with some legal expert a few days later just to put the record straight on the legal aspects and whether, in fact, you’d actually be covered by your insurers where you to run into trouble whilst taking his advice (apparently as long as you took enough care to ensure the car wasn’t stolen you’d be OK).
BBC, please don’t presume we’re all stupid and Quentin, stick to what you know and hope to see you at this year’s Used Car conference.