This post is being dragged, kicking and screaming into the new decade. Why? Because Tollfoolery stickers are available now. You can buy them here.
My trip to Barcelona to test drive the new Suzuki Swift Sport didn't go entirely to plan. A couple of sat-nav fails resulted in me spending far too much time on the ribbons of motorways that surround the Catalonian capital.
If nothing else, at least I can provide a glowing report on Suzuki's decision to add a sixth gear to the new Sport. It makes motorway driving a great deal more comfortable.
The knock-on effect was that I also managed to visit a total of SEVEN toll booths. Just as well I had pre-paid tag sat on my windscreen.
To the ordinary motorist, I'm sure toll booths are simply a small inconvenience that interrupts their journey. What's more, there's the additional drawback of actually having to pay for the privilege of passing through the barrier.
The first couple of toll booths passed without incident or event. But by the time I reached the third booth, I remembered just how much fun toll booths can be. As a result of my toll booth enjoyment, I felt the urge to load up Twitter and post the following tweet:
Judging by the response, I'm not alone. My Twitter stream was awash with like-minded car enthusiasts who feel the same way.
“Nope, can't help myself. Something to do with having a perfect opportunity for a 0-60 run” - AI
“No! For me it's a slavering pack of velociraptor, but it's the same result” - PG
“Surely not, it's part of the fun of a toll booth. After handing over copious £££, then accelerating out as if you're in a car chase” - ML
“Nope! I do it too. I use the thank you sign much like drag racers use the Christmas Tree” - DH
“Not at all. Dartford Crossing is a must” - A
“I pretend I am in the Cannonball Run” - AM
“One of the only reasons I use the Dartford tunnel is to do that” - HB
“No. No you are not. I blame Smokey and the Bandit” - DB
“Nope. I do it... it has to be done” - DW
“NO! It's an eight lane drag race fighting for three spaces” - S
“The Severn Bridge booth was the highlight of my journey”- SA
The Tollfoolery manifesto
[caption id="attachment_27834" align="aligncenter" width="832"] Tollfoolery: official artist's impression[/caption]
This affection for what I'm calling Tollfoolery has led to the conclusion that more should be done with the toll booths. No longer should they be viewed as obstacles and inconveniences. Instead, it's time to embrace them as opportunities for maximum fun. Ladies, gentlemen and car enthusiasts, I present the Tollfoolery manifesto:
- Specific road markings on the lanes that exit the toll booths. A quarter mile, half mile and one mile should do it. Perfect for measuring the pace of your chosen vehicle.
- I'd propose an overhead electronic message board that displays your time to the chosen distance, making it easier for you to know if you've beaten your personal best.
- For maximum enjoyment and to enhance the competitive spirit, I'm suggesting that the best times are displayed on the toll booths. Something to aim for, right?
- To ensure fairness, I suggest a set of Santa Pod style ‘Christmas tree’ lights. As Martin Brundle might say: “look, but never stare”.
- Should these ideas prove successful, I see no reason why a designated ‘petrolhead lane’ couldn't be set up for Tollfoolery. If it's good enough for bus lanes to be set up on motorways, then surely petrolheads can have one too? I'm sure we'd be happy to pay extra for the privilege.
- This is a British invention so I see Tollfoolery initially been rolled out at the Dartford Crossing, Severn Bridge, M6 Toll and Humber Bridge. Once established, I'm sure we can share the concept with our foreign counterparts. Another great British export.
Tollfoolery is guaranteed to succeed, it's a wonder why nobody has proposed the idea before. It puts the fun back into driving and will encourage drivers to use the toll booths more often. More toll usage equals more income.
What could possibly go wrong? Actually, don't answer that…
PetrolBlog urges you to get behind Tollfoolery. The campaign (sort of) starts here.
Note: In the interests of public safety, PetrolBlog only condones such behaviour on private airfields, a small section of the Nevada desert or when playing Turbo Esprit on the ZX Spectrum. Do not try this at home, and children, please use the Green Cross Code. If in doubt, talk to Tufty. Or David Essex. Or Peter Purves.
This post first appeared in 2011.