THE Anti-Noise League in parti cular is overjoyed at prospect of motor-cars without gears, outlined this week by a speaker at the British Association's Conference.
The same thought has brought happiness in a more personal way, to householders who for years have been martyrs to " night-starvation" because their houses are on hills, corners and on other un fortunate sites, such as where Ministry of Transport signs bid the motorist, with heavy fines for disobedience, to halt (because of the major road ahead), change into his noisiest gear so that he who is in bed may be assured that this motorist, at least, is a law-abiding citizen.
But psychologists arc worried. They know that particularly at week-ends there are many drivers on the roads who drive for sport, as a relaxation from the dull monotony of officehours. They are young men and women who would suffer if the skill of good driving were reduced by a gear-box. They have spent thou 'sands of hours practising the art of anccessfully changing gear and they get as much thrill from driving well under difficult conditions as a yachtsman gets in a heavy sea.
To discuss whether the mentality of such people is good or had is of no practical value. For though it is called " escapism " and laughed at nowadays, its existence is as wide now as it was a thousand years ago and will never die.
The optimistic tone of the British Association speaker belies the sceptics who have heard all about gearless cars and frankly believe that they can exist only in fantastic dreams. Nor is there any doubt that when such a form of transmission is perfected it will be applied in cheap cars more strictly than in expensive ones.
How then will the " escapist" escape? It is improbable that he will give up motoring. It is probable that he will turn into a reckless driver who " escapes " every time he causes an accident or just avoids one.