Antisocial Driving

Antisocial driving off-roading can be as much of a blight for rural communities as bad driving on the road. This terrible accident near New Radnor recently shows just how dangerous it can be too.

Two Landrovers fell 60m down the side of Harley Dingle – no small ditch but a huge, steep-sided valley – driving along a track at 2.30am. Thankfully the drivers, from the Birmingham area, are alive, albeit in hospital with broken bones.

I must declare an interest here. I know the area where this happened and I know the people who own the land. I grew up nearby and know how dangerous these hills are to drive around.

The question has to be, what were they doing there? At 2.30am? On ground they do not know, without the permission of the landowner and seemingly on a bridleway not open to wheeled vehicles? No one in their right mind would attempt that.

The police will investigate what happened, including any potential infringements of the law. I look forward to what they find out.

But, it seems hard to conclude that such action is anything other than irresponsible and that they were fools, at best. Luck fools.

This highlights the problem of irresponsible off-roading. Too often people dismiss the problem, assuming it doesn’t harm anyone. But damage done to roads, tracks and farmland is considerable.

Most clubs and drivers drive responsibly, off road and on. But a notable minority do not. Drivers need to respect others who use the countryside, whether to make a living or to enjoy its life-affirming beauty.

Usually disputes on these matters involve civil law: trespass is a civil offence. Local authorities, Natural Resources Wales and private individuals deal with these. Some disputes may involve traffic offences, however, which the police can investigate.

What is clear is that everyone will have to work closely together to tackle the problem. Because in rural areas, antisocial driving is a nuisance to communities off the road as well as on it. We learnt last week just how dangerous it is too.

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