Letter: Undertaking: an apposite term

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The Independent Online
Sir: Has Theo Hopkins, who so enthusiastically defends 'undertaking' as practised in the United States (Letters, 2 October), really ever been to America?

First, speed limits are widely ignored there; in a 55mph limit, 65mph is the norm, and in a 65mph limit, 75mph is common. There are plenty of country roads where even higher speeds are commonly encountered. Enforcement is capricious, and penalties are arbitrary and can be savage.

Second, utter lack of lane discipline means that 'weaving' is common; pick-up truck drivers, trying to travel at 5 to 10mph above the prevailing speed, are particularly prone to it. One dry, sunny afternoon, between Los Angeles and Fresno, we saw five accidents in 150 miles. Four involved pick-up trucks; three involved vehicles where, as they carved past us, my wife and I said to one another, 'There goes another accident waiting to happen.'

Third, an attack on 'businessmen in speeding BMWs' in this country suggests that Mr Hopkins's complaints are based more on envy than on observation. Anyone who drives fast will know that 'reps' in Sierras and Cavaliers, together with an extraordinary number of small vans, make up the vast majority of vehicles travelling at 85mph or more. I ride a BMW motorcycle, and I am therefore inclined to notice other BMWs, on two wheels or four. They do not go past me at 90 to 100mph. Repmobiles, protesting engines being flogged to their limits, do.

Yours sincerely


Birchington, Kent

2 October