'See you in casualty' jokes new car mag

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A SOUPED-UP car magazine has come under fire for appearing to endorse illegal car racing, just as a driver was jailed for 12 years for killing a young couple in a road rage attack.

The Old Bailey was told that rally driver Jason Humble - who used his vehicle to push the couple's car across a dual carriageway - had boasted he was "the best driver ever". The recorder said Humble had used his car "in a most aggressive way in order to push out of your path another vehicle".

However, concern has been raised that car magazines can encourage a speed ethos among an impressionable audience. In a highly-charged media presentation, Redline magazine, launched later this month by Future Publishing, promised it "won't ignore the fact that breaking the law is fun".

In a story which was pulled from Redline's dummy edition at the last minute, the magazine wrote: "In an illegal road race, if three lanes are blocked, just drop down a gear, stick it on to the hard shoulder and power past." It concludes, in cheerful fashion, "See you in casualty."

The comments come after BBC's Top Gear was accused of laddish behaviour and ridiculing sensible drivers. In response, the programme's presenter Jeremy Clarkson said speed would always appeal, but that it did not mean people watched his programme and went out and broke the law.

According to Department of Transport figures, 17 to 24-year-olds comprise 10 per cent of drivers, but are involved in 20 per cent of accidents. In 1996, speed was a major factor in 1,000 road deaths, a third of all driving fatalities.

Redline has been slammed for its proposed coverage of illegal speed races by the AA. "It's absolutely appalling," said spokesman Michael Johnson. "Any organisation which seeks to encourage people to break the law and engage in this repellent behaviour is contemptible.

"There's a simple causal link between speed and death ... The sentence on Jason Humble sent out a clear message that such behaviour is intolerable and any magazine that endorses illegal racing has to take responsibility."

The RAC, while unhappy with the magazine's stance, believes such publications are "puerile" and ignored by serious drivers. "We think people who are going to speed and break the law are going to do it anyway," said a spokesman.

Redline editor Gary Inman denied the magazine would condone or encourage dangerous driving and breaking the law.

"The comment about casualty was just a flippant remark outlining our own mortality. You can't condone aggressive driving," he said. "We may report on illegal races in the future. But is reporting on riots on television encouraging people to go out rioting and looting? We are crediting our readers with intelli- gence. We're not saying jump in your Mondeo and do it.

"You can't say Ferrari is breaking by the law by bringing on cars that go up to 160mph. It's the driver behind the wheel. Redline doesn't support driving fast in dangerous situations but no real man can deny the fantastic feeling of driving hard and handling a vehicle well."

Redline is not the first car magazine to be censored by road authorities. Max Power, the best-selling motoring monthly, with a circulation of 192,000, last year dismissed new laws forcing anyone who gained six points on their licence within two years of passing their test to take a resit, as "anti- yoof crap" and favouring "doddery old gits in Ladas".