You won’t see any car reviews here for a while. There’s a reason for that. You see, when you are a car enthusiast the prospect of a drive in something tasty engenders a feeling within akin to that of a kid in a sweet shop. The prospect of the open road and the roar of the engine coupled with the feel of the wheel in your hand and the smell of the admiring crowd, all build to a crescendo in your mind: but there are dangers, as I have discovered.
Running late and in my haste to get out I took the stairs two at a time which all went swimmingly well until about halfway down. The ensuing headlong sprawl wasn’t pretty or elegant but it was effective.
For the next three weeks (to date) I have felt like I’ve gone ten rounds with The Hulk’s meaner, tougher brother. (Obviously, another couple of rounds and I would have had him but we’ll never know now, will we?). As things stand I have been well bashed up. This week for example, I should be piloting a Jaguar. A fourth week of not driving looms. In a strange way, I’m actually car sick.
Rushing Doesn’t Work
It never does. Try the M4 eastbound in the morning if you want to see plenty of maniacal lane-switching action as late drivers try to make up time. Later when you approach a hazard (it’s the M4 remember) and all the traffic slows, how far has the maniac actually got? Exactly.
Life has a way of slowing you down, be it on the stairs or on the road. Rushing doesn’t work.
So as I can’t write a car review, let us instead consider our holidays. Yes folks, it’s that time of year again when we start to think about the family vacation. Given the vile state of the world why not stay UK-side this time and take the tribe away in the motor?
What could be better? The open road, the en-route picnic, the rogue wasp in the car and to cap it all, to really make your day, the cry of “I feel sick!” coming from the back seat.
Stop-start traffic, heat, winding roads and too many gloppy snacks will have a cumulative effect and worsen a condition that afflicts offspring and indeed adults at some point. The driver seems immune, the concentration (hopefully) keeping the mind on other things. Car sickness then is most prevalent in passengers and especially children and the terrible teens. Sickness is made worse by sitting in the back, head down playing video games or looking at pictures of Greg Wallace (that might just be me).
I’m not making this up. There are experts in this sort of thing and they have determined that passengers who stared at screens for the duration of a short journey fell ill after an average of just 10 minutes. And that’s grown-ups.
Car sickness can turn an eagerly awaited family trip into a nightmare, with parents nervously looking over their shoulders (not a good trait in drivers) fearing the worse; like being alone at night and believing that Freddie Krueger was hiding under the blanket in the back.
Yawning and perspiring are warning signs for a condition that is caused apparently by mismatches between the signals the brain receives from the eyes and from the organs of balance in the ear. Although often sick, the diminutive darlings, babies don’t get car sick. This only comes when we start walking.
Help Is At Hand
According to Prof. Dr. Jelte Bos, of TNO, Perceptual and Cognitive Systems, based in the Netherlands, “Car sickness is a complex problem. It is a natural reaction to an unnatural stimulus that cannot be cured as such. But we can look to alleviate the symptoms”.
He continues, “In initial testing it was found that when screens were mounted higher, and the road ahead could be seen on either side, volunteers were less likely to feel sick (sited in the back of head restraints, for example). Further experiments are being explored to seek alternative ways that journeys could be displayed in the cabin so that unseeing passengers can be warned of events such as twisty roads or hump backed bridges. Also, for many drivers who think their child has a problem with car sickness, it might simply be that their child has a problem with their driving,” the Prof added, which is a bit of a bummer when you believe you are a driving god.
The Professor goes on, “Adopting a smoother driving style goes a long way towards reducing feelings of nausea – and it reduces fuel costs too”.
He suggests the car sick one move to the middle in the back seats ( I would add here, ‘with a bucket’) or preferably the front, to see the road ahead. The person at the wheel should operate the car smoothly and where possible avoid sudden braking, harsh acceleration and potholes (so not the UK then). Using a pillow or head support to keep the head as still as possible helps too, we’re told.
A family sing along could help, if you can bear it, as a distraction technique. Other recommendations – remembering not to shoot the messenger – include drinking cola and eating ginger biscuits. No coffee, strangely. Finally keep the air-con flowing but don’t open the window – wasps if you recall.
So don’t let car sick kids get you down. It happens to us all. Just take some vomit bags for the seat pockets and remember to pack the wet-wipes. Geoff Maxted