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Lives are being put at risk by young motorists who modify their cars to boost performance

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Lives are being put at risk by young motorists who modify their cars to boost performance, says the AA.

The motoring organisation wants tighter controls for things like nitrous oxide kits which are used to massively increase an engine's power.

AA Chairman Edmund King says it's young motorists who are most at risk and he wants to see new rules about how much people can modify their cars.

Five hundred young people die in car crashes across the UK every year.

Nitrous oxide is just one of the things motorists are using to soup-up their cars and make them go faster.

It's usually known as laughing gas and used to make fillings less painful at the dentist. But in a car it has a very different effect.

Twenty-five-year-old car-owner Dale Vodden wants his wheels to say something about him and has so far spent about £16,000 on it.

He's had a nitrous oxide kit added to his Toyota MR2 which boosts the engine from 158 to nearly 300 brake horsepower.

He isn't worried and says the car can take it: "The suspension is modified, it sits nicer, it handles nicer. It's up to spec basically."

Trevor Langfield has been fitting legal nitrous oxide systems for more than 30 years.

He says he vets each individual customer and only fits more powerful systems when a driver has proved it can be used safely.

He said: "What you're doing is just putting more oxygen and more fuel into the engine and that burns to make more power."

However the AA is worried about inexperienced drivers behind the wheels of such powerful cars.

King added: "We believe that many hundreds of lives are put at risk by these modified cars.

"Some 20% of new drivers have a crash in their first year of driving.

"If you then put them in a modified car that's harder to control, that's faster, that has an extra 200 brake horsepower, then accidents are much more likely to happen."

The AA says it would like new rules on modifications, including nitrous oxide, but there are no current plans to change the law.