Revving your engine in the U.K. could get you arrested. That’s right: The puerile behaviors almost anyone in a high-power sports car engages in from time to time is a criminal offense in some U.K. cities—even if you’re just idling.
A few days ago, police in Northampton, just 70 miles northwest of London, towed a Ferrari F12 Berlinetta after its owner repeatedly drove “in a manner likely to cause alarm, distress or annoyance.” If that sounds vague, that’s because U.K. laws on anti-social behavior are purposely written so. For years, anti-social behavior orders (ASBOs) have been aimed at rowdy teens causing trouble on the street. Getting an ASBO often means curfews and restrictions from certain areas. But more recently, U.K. legislatures have turned these ordinances on drivers—and primarily for certain kinds of driving that most law enforcement agencies would deem obnoxious, but not against the law.
The U.K.’s Police Reform Act lets officers tow repeat offenders like the Ferrari owner. And in London, sudden acceleration and obnoxious exhausts may soon be illegal. Up for consideration at this very moment is a Public Space Protection Order, an extension of more anti-social laws introduced last year, that would prevent drivers from doing 11 things. According to the Evening Standard, that would be “revving engines; speeding; sudden or rapid acceleration; driving in convoy; racing; leaving the engine of a stationary vehicle to run idle; performing stunts; sounding horns; playing music; using threatening, intimidating behaviour; and causing an obstruction on the road, whether moving or stationary.”
We’re all for civility on the road, especially in tight urban areas where the proximity of road users makes even a squirt of V12 power potentially fatal to pedestrians and cyclists—saying nothing of motorists themselves. And local residents have had enough of the supercar parades that have become a hallmark of summers in Central London. But there’s a difference between regulating reckless driving and enforcing stereo volumes, or deciding a Jaguar F-Type’s exhaust is too rowdy.
Whatever happened to Brits shouting “Wanker!” and “Yob!” and just moving on?