Saturday, May 2, 2009

Good motoring
Accessories that you must avoid
H. Kishie Singh

Do not instal gadgets in the car that put your life at risk

Some accessories that find their way into the market should be banned. They are unwittingly designed to put the driversí lives at risk. The Indian car owner has an unquenched thirst for gadgets and gizmos. He will fit them without a thought about the danger they involve. The first one that comes to mind is the cover that slips over the steering wheel. You can have control over the car if the brakes fail, or the clutch plates burn, or the accelerator wire breaks. But if you lose control over the steering, you are liable to meet with an accident.

You will lose complete control of the car. The cover is an ugly, ungainly one, and a slip-on. It is so thick that it does not allow a good grip, contrary to popular belief. The steering wheel is designed in such a way and the circumference is measured to provide a strong grip by any sized hand. If you increase the circumference, you will not improve your grip. Quite to the contrary, you will not be able to grip the steering wheel properly.

Also, since the steering wheel cover is simply slipped on. It can slip off any time. An ideal recipe for disaster. Think. If you wrapped a towel around your tennis racquet handle, your grip would not improve. This applies to your steering wheel also.

Another dangerous item that owners fit is a little pillow just below the headrest. It slips over the headrest and is held in place with an elastic band. Another recipe for disaster. Headrests provided by the manufacturers are designed to protect the head and the spine in case of a rear-end collision, which causes severe neck injuries due to whiplash. Whiplash causes neck injuries and may even snap the spine due to the sudden snapping back of the head. The headrest is adjustable, and even the fixed one prevents the head from being jerked back suddenly.

Before the invention of headrests, seats ended at the shoulder level. In case of a rear-end collision, the head is jerked back and the spine could snap. If you put a pillow at the neck level, you create a space behind your head. This will allow the head to be thrown back, defeating the purpose of the headrest provided by the manufacturer. A whiplash can cause severe spinal injuries, and may even be fatal.

Yet another useless accessory is a beeper that warns people that the car is reversing. It has a loud beep, and just keeps on beeping as long as the car is in reverse gear. In all cases that I have seen, this fitment is carried out by roadside mechanics in Sector 27 or 28. They really are not very good at their jobs. This is abundantly clear from the beeper. It is under the bonnet facing forward. To my mind, it should be below the rear bumper, facing backwards.

In any country where the laws are enforced, the owners of these cars would definitely be challaned, if not arrested, for being a public nuisance. Sadly, such laws do not exist in our country. This is one more useless and illegal item.

I have seen frames holding four lights fitted on the bonnets of sedans and roofs of SUVs. Some people go to any length to spoil the looks of their cars. Fitting four extra lights spoils the aerodynamic lines of the car. It is also illegal. Under the MV Act, fitting lights not from the manufacturer is not allowed. The manufacturer provides lights that are adequate for normal driving speeds.

Happy motoring.