It had been a great day out. The weather was perfect and they were coming back from a day at the horse races with more money than they took. They were three carefree young couples having fun and it did not matter that the back of the Jaguar was cramped with four across the back seat,

The road was winding with grass edges. John was driving and he took a curve just slightly too fast. Perhaps he was distracted by the high-spirited passengers in the car. Those big Jaguars could be a handful and six passengers only added to this. The car ran onto lose gravel and then rough grass and started bouncing along sideways, throwing the occupants around inside. There were no seat belts in the back and all four would have not been able to use them if there were. The girls screamed and one of the back doors opened. It was unclear whether it had not been shut properly or the violent shocks the car's body received opened it. It was over in a second or two. The car stopped when it hit a tree. The car had almost stopped moving by the time it hit the tree and the impact was only slight. They started to laugh in nervous relief.

Realizing there were now only three people on the back seat and not seeing her husband, Susan screamed again and looked at the half open door where her husband had been sitting. She could not open it because of the tree. They all scrambled out on the other side to look for Peter. To their horror they found him – under the car. Like mad fools they tried to lift the car off him until their hands bled. But it was hopeless. Peter must have died instantly when the weight of the car crushed his head.

That happened almost 30 years ago. John, who was Peter's brother, has never been behind the wheel of a car since that day. John's wife left him within a year, saying he had become impossible to live with. Susan was left to bring up two small children and it took her almost 10 years of psychiatric counseling to recover, but eventually she remarried. She never spoke to her former brother-in-law again. I had known John and Peter since we were at school. Today I still vividly remember the day five friends' lives were changed for ever and one friend's life ended so easily so quickly and so pointlessly. I was in the back of that car too.

Before that fateful day I had never been involved in a car accident and never gave a second thought to the potential dangers of driving. Today I still drive, but very carefully.

I would not wish such an experience on anyone, but usually the realization of what a lethal killing machine the automobile is, comes only with either bitter experience or maturity. Street racers lack maturity and experience. How do I know? Because if they did, they would not play their deadly game. One such racer said with bravado in front of the TV cameras that it did not worry him if he died. However, if he knew more he would know that death is reserved for the lucky ones. The others are paralyzed from the neck downwards and spend the rest of their miserable lives being pushed in a wheelchair wearing nappies because they can no longer control their bowels, never mind a car.

Punishing racers with a fine, loss of license and even destroying their cars does not appear to deter them. But a couple of weeks in the back of a police patrol car would surely be far more effective? They would witness the skill of good driving first hand and have poor driving habits pointed out to them. More importantly, they would visit the scenes of accidents and experience the shock and see for themselves the sickening site of blood and gore. Maybe then they might begin to understand the utter stupidity that racing cars on public roads can bring. After visiting a dozen accidents even the dimmest offender would start to get the message. After that they could spend some time traveling round with an ambulance crew. There they could hear the screams of victims on their way to the emergency department.

Finally, hardened racers could spend some time working as a porter in a hospital emergency unit. They would see not only the accident victims there, but meet their distraught relatives, heartbroken by the disfigurements inflicted on their loved ones. Racers could see that the results of just a moment's miscalculation last a whole lifetime and affect many more than just the driver.

Racers should understand the image they project: these boys, and they are only boys, are telling the world they are immature, with little driving experience and likely no experience with the opposite sex. Loud exhausts, revving engines and aggressive driving are clear statements that the drivers not tough, brave or clever, but immature and inexperienced.