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ichard, considering your near fatal crash in 2006, road safety must be a massively important issue for you now? Well of course, but it was even before my accident. No, really...! Let’s be honest, my crash had


nothing to do with road safety, because that’s a different and very serious topic. My crash was in a jet-powered car on an empty runway. It didn’t occur from reckless driving; it was a freak accident! Don’t get me wrong, it made me think about things... even when I was back behind the wheel of a car doing 30mph. I think any accident will do that.


FACTFILE


Born Richard Mark Hammond 19 December 1969 (age 42) Solihull, England, UK


Residence Weston under Penyard, Herefordshire, England


Nationality British


Other names Hamster


So did it make you a slower driver? Not particularly. I was never really the fastest nor the slowest driver on the road beforehand anyway, but I guess subconsciously, I’m a little more wary now. I guess I’ve come down to the level that I should have been at in the first place. You can get a little cocky when driving, especially when you do it for a day job as I do. Cars are super-powered machines – they need to be respected!


Are young drivers the most dangerous on the road? Kids are reckless and adults will always try to guide them, and you can’t suppress these things! What you have to do is try to control it. Kids don’t need to impress others by driving fast – you’ve got your whole life to get that energy out, and there are much better ways of doing it.


I think kids need to know that adults aren’t telling them to be sensible in every aspect of life. That’s not possible and it’d be unhealthy to do that. But choose your battles, because one of them shouldn’t be with an accelerator!


Were you reckless at 17? I loved being on the road the first time I got behind the wheel. It was the best feeling of my life at the time and, to be fair, I might have taken a few unnecessary risks, but I don’t think I was irresponsible. I made mistakes, mostly through lack of concentration, but that’s all a part of the learning process.


Look to the future! Imagine your daughters have just bought their first cars. What advice would you give them? I dread this day! If I’m going to buy them a car I’ll make sure it’s something small and reliable. It’s still a horrible thought - my girls are eleven and eight, and even though I’m a way off having to face it, I know I’ll be terrified thinking ‘oh God’!


But parents have to go through it. At the same time though, youngsters have to respect the fact their parents worry. I probably gave my folks a few jitters when I was growing up, and I regret that. And when I was growing up the cars were a lot less safe than they are today!


What’s the best tip you can give to young drivers? I’m always telling kids not to believe they have control of the car. We all go through that phase of feeling as if the car is in control of them. Then, one day, you feel as if you’ve mastered it. Well that’s the most dangerous time because, trust me, you haven’t!


And a car can choose to go out of control very quickly and quite alarmingly. I think the driving test should contain some training in loss of control of the car.


If you put someone in a car tell them to slide it around so that it feels like it’s out of control, it’s pretty scary. There’s plenty of adrenalin going on, but adrenalin alone isn’t going to help you stay out of a ditch.


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