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Opinion: The lies people tell about their driving habits

By Tim Keen, 30 Sep 2018 Features

Opinion: The lies people tell about their driving habits

Be prepared for some Grade 'A' mental gymnastics

I SEE THE FUN POLICE are having a crackdown on people enjoying themselves in the car again.

I’m talking about a recent poll that revealed 38 per cent of drivers have eaten takeaway food while driving, while 10 per cent have steered with their knees. “It’s dangerous driving,” huffed the disgusted fun-o-phobes, on their way home to grimly re-check the batteries in their smoke detectors.

The horror! Everyone knows there’s simply no way to trundle along at 40km/h in peak-hour traffic without gripping the wheel in a maximum-attack choke-hold, your Puma racing boots heel-and-toeing across the pedals like Fred Astaire. Imagine relaxing in your own car! Ridiculous. Someone call the Fun Police!

But my sharply honed instincts as a defence lawyer – I’ve watched My Cousin Vinny like 12 times – reveal a glaring hole in the case: how did 28 per cent of people eat takeaway food without steering with their knees?

I occasionally eat while driving. But before the Fun Police reach for the handcuffs, I should point out that I do it very safely. I don’t steer with my knees, because of course I need to keep my thighs level to rest the plate on – too much movement slops gravy and peas everywhere. And anyway, if I turn at all, it could upset the ice bucket balanced on the centre console.

Enough lies. I say everyone who eats takeaway in the car steers with their knees. No? Because you waited until you got to the lights to have a chip? No you didn’t. You’re lying. You know it, and I know it.

Fun Police polls are like all police interrogations – they start with the small stuff to lock you into your story, and then whammo, they trot out the big guns: here’s a human head, and it has your fingerprints on it, and here’s a video of you sparing a seven-ten split with it at Bowlarama.

Opinion: Punishments aren't fitting the crime

It’s the same inside the Fun Police interrogation room.

“Have you ever eaten takeaway while driving?” the Fun Police ask lightly, like you’re just having a friendly chat, and you fail to sense the trap lying in wait: “Yes, I have,” you admit, grinning guiltily like a labrador with pillow stuffing on its lips.

Then the tone turns sharp – and now you hear the snap as the trap closes on your ankle: “Then have you ever steered with your knees?”

“N-n-no,” you stammer, the heat creeping up the back of your neck. “No, sir, that would be – that would be dangerous and wrong.”
“It would, wouldn’t it,” the Fun Police murmur, and somehow the quiet sounds louder than a shout. “But let me ask you this – how did you eat the takeaway, if you didn’t steer with your knees?”
“I... uh, I eat with one hand,” you reply, knowing they’ll never believe you, knowing that no-one could believe such a preposterous lie, wishing you had more time to think, to come up with a better story, but there’s no time, the questions just keep coming and coming, and it’s so hot in here, why is it so hot?

No holds barred on MOTOR opinion

“So you never took a sip from your drink while you were eating?”
“I, uh, I did, but I put the burger down first, and then I...”
“Have you ever listened to In The Air Tonight while driving?”
“What?”
“Phil Collins. HAVE YOU EVER LISTENED TO IT WHILE DRIVING!”
“Y-yes, but I...”
“Then how did you air-drum the bit at three-minutes-thirteen if you’ve never steered with your knees?”
“I... just sort of tap my fingers on the steering wheel at ten and two...”
“Lies! You air-drum it! You know you do!”
“Okay! But I just... I drum with one hand... like the guy from Def Leppard...”
“I see you bought your shirt at Fancy Man in Westfield Warringah Mall... You’ve never had to dig the multi-storey carpark ticket and your credit card out of your wallet before you get to the boom gate?”
“Okay! Okay! I admit it! I steered with my knees! God help me, I did it, I steered with my knees...”
“Guards! Take this piece of filth to the Fun Gulag... and bring in the next suspect.”

Thank god they didn’t ask about burnouts.