Boy racers' bible puts up two fingers to law

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The Independent Online
A magazine for "boy racers" has angered the Automobile Association by defying new laws aimed at curbing their red-light-jumping, speed-limit- breaking excesses, writes Mark Rowe.

Max Power, a laddish monthly described by the car-magazine world as the "boy racer's bible", is at odds with the AA over the Road Traffic (New Drivers) Act, which comes into force in June

Under the Act, new drivers will be forced to re-sit their test if they accumulate six penalty points on their licence within two years. This, says Max Power, unfairly victimises new drivers and is "anti-yoof crap".

Writing in the April edition of the magazine, which aims at the 17 to 25 age market and sells 190,000 copies a month, editor Nigel Ambrose says: "Two SP30s [policespeak for a speeding offence] and whammo - your licence is history. What about doddery old gits in Ladas - how many own- fault accidents do they cause, eh? Too bloody many if my experience is anything to go by."

The AA accused the magazine of being "irresponsible". Spokeswoman Rebecca Rees said: "The way its editorial on the traffic law is written and the type of language used is a cause for concern. This is not the message we want. It's almost encouraging people to rebel against the law and if drivers do, then they will be sorry.

"They are treating it like a joke and if youngsters take it seriously it will do nothing for road safety. Young drivers are easily influenced and like to show off in front of their peers."

The AA's concern about young drivers appears to be justified. Department of Transport figures show that 17- to 24-year-olds comprise 10 per cent of drivers but are involved in 20 per cent of accidents. Speed was a major factor in 1,000 road deaths last year - one-third of all driving fatalities, according to the AA.

And research to be published at the British Psychological Society annual conference this week shows that young male drivers are "high violators" - more at risk of having an accident than any other group. Offences included deliberately jumping traffic lights and driving close to make a car in front go faster, according to the research, based on a series of national surveys.