car tuning

31 Jan 2008

Road deaths - speed or congestion?

When people start moaning about speed enforcement and start to make a case for it they often site road safety as an argument.

These people allege that speed itself is a cause of road traffic accidents. I have no detailed statistics to quote from, but this is a new project of mine so I will report back with my findings soon.

My theory is that congestion and pinch point in traffic are the major causes of traffic accidents.

1) Cars waiting to turn off a main road often cause a tailback. This is a prime opportunity for a driver (at normal road speeds) to come round a blind bend and fail to notice the situation ahead and plough into the car in front.

2) Journey times are longer due to congestion and long journeys are associated with tiredness and reduce driver reactions.

3) Overtaking. This could be put down to speed but generally a driver will miss time an overtake maneuver and hit an on coming car. If our roads flowed well and there were suitable passing places there would be no need for the risky overtake maneuver.

4) Crowded streets lined with parked cars make it hard, or near impossible to spot pedestrians wandering out into the road. Again with less cars on the road we would not have this problem to contend with.

5) Anger and road rage are major causes of bad lapses of judgement resulting in accidents. Stress and tension are greater when the congestion is greater on our roads.

So rather than slowing cars down with speeding fines, which some say is a smokescreen for raising revenue, I would suggest that our road infrastructure is at fault for a major proportion of our road deaths and injuries. If my theory is borne out by the facts I will publish these for all to see.

Oil companies make more money.

We are all pretty depressed at the cost of a tank of fuel. The rising cost of oil is not bad new for everyone. I note this morning that Shell have just posted obscene profits of 18.5 billion euros. With the global demand for oil increasing the price is set to climb even higher. Why though should a company that makes fuel which we all need be posting such high profit annoucements.

To my mind this smacks of a cartel. Competition is supposed to mean lower prices for the consumer but we see that this adage does not seem to apply to the fuel industries (this includes gas and electricity prices as well!)

The profits made come very much from the prices paid by you and I the average consumer. There are some things we can do to encourage more healthy competition in the energy/fuel market.

1) If we shopped around en-mass and boycotted a company it would be forced to lower its prices and then as we start buying from them again another oil company will also drop its prices.

2) We reduce demand for oil. If we agree to walk instead of take the car for every journey we can walk in 20 minutes, we reduce our demand for fuel. We will also be a lot healthier and reduce our cars running costs and maintenance by not using it for short journeys.

This 2 pronged approach requires we all synchronize our habits and mindset. We already have one thing in common - we do not like paying the current high fuel costs and we choke when we see the obscene profits made by the oil industry.

How though can we all shop around with the same buying parameters - here is an idea. Taking the letters that make up the company name we could boycot them if the letters of the current month contain the same letter? Strangely enough it works out that we boycott the main oil companies for 2 months in a row.

11 Jan 2008

Speed cameras that debate continues

Over at TorqueCars the great debate for and against speed cameras continues. Thinking about it there's not many people for speed cameras road safety groups insist that the roads would be safer if the average speed was reduced by one MPH. The fact of the matter though, is the reckless minority in are the ones that cause the accidents therefore rather than targeting all motorists, efforts should be putting to targeting those that insist on exceeding the speed limits by a fair margin.

The most annoying thing about speed cameras, when speaking with our members is the fact that other cars travelling at the correct speed will reduce their speed while passing a camera for fear of being photographed. This causes dangerous bunching of slow moving cars and disrupts the traffic flow. This deceleration and then acceleration causes fuel to be wasted and increases the pollution from cars.

Torquecars certainly do not endorse speeding on the roads, and we actively encourage our members to improve their driving skills, awareness of other drivers, and practice in anticipation of the road ahead. There are surely enough hazards and obstructions for driver to concentrate on without the addition of speed cameras.

The time will come when cars are fitted with a GPS tracking systems which monitor a driver's speed and match this to the driver's location and automatic fines can be sent should the driver exceed the speed limit of the road he is on. This move will be very controversial, but cars are already being fitted with tracking devices for insurance purposes whereby the driver agrees not to use the car during certain hours in return for a lower premium. Luxury cars have essentially what amounts to a black box recorder and police have prosecuted drivers after an accident based on the evidence in a of the black box.

I've never really got the speed cameras as a safety thing. I can't help but think that most people are missing the point of the accident statistics. The fact is that there are so many accidents on a certain road is because there are so many cars on the road. Simple law of averages. If you compared the number of cars and accidents today and obtained a ratio then compared this with to say at 20 years ago I'm sure that the accident rate would be substantially reduced. Our cars today are safer both for the occupants and for pedestrians and due to congestion road speeds are reduced inner urban areas and due to congestion.

10 Jan 2008

Car tire puncture repairs

One of the annoying things about owning a car is the fact that the odds of getting a puncture are so much greater a if you have a new tire. I seem to go a long period of time without getting a puncture or any kind of tire damage, and then, when I purchase a new set of tyres I get a puncture in At least one.

One thing that I did learn was that punctures can be repaired if the puncture is in the central third of the tire. If apparently repairs in the outer third are less reliable due to the flexing of the tire in normal use. It is handy to knows that many punctures can be repaired because many tire fitters will use this opportunity to sell you a new tire. Of repair typically takes 15 to 20 minutes and providing you do not put the repaired tire under any undue stress whilst it is curing the tire will last as long as a normal tire.

In the the years gone by you had the option of adding a new inner tube, unfortunately, this is not possible with modern tyres which are marked tubeless. This tyres have ridges on the inside to add to their rigidity, but these ridges will rub and wear away the inner tube causing a potential blowout at high speed.

There are are a number of new liquids which can be pumped into a tire which automatically sealed the puncture. On bicycles these can be very effective but TorqueCars have yet to see and assess the effectiveness of these liquids in car tyres.

9 Jan 2008

UK law changes and updated proposals

Firstly I must apologise for not making any block entries for the last 30 days. I've been suffering from a condition known as bloggers brain.

A notice a couple of prominent car related news stories have hit the headlines recently firstly a lady has been in stopped and a prosecuted for driving too slowly on a motorway. If she managed to hit to the incredible speed of 20 miles per hour. She proved to be a danger to herself and other motorists and was seen driving erratically swerving in and out of her lane and jabbing her break on and off. Her licence has been removed and she will need two retake her driving test. This case highlights a number of issues but mainly that of drivers who are no longer healthy enough to drive a car safely. These cautious drivers cause a danger to all those around them, Torquecars members have put forward the suggestion of compulsory RE tests every 10 years for those over the age of 16 which will include a full medical.

I also note this morning the UK law relating two deaths from careless driving will probably be amended from a prison sentence to a community related sentence. Sadly if someone did cause of death from driving without due care and attention, a moment's lapse of concentration, they will have this on their conscience for the rest of their lives. A prison sentence it does seem too harsh in this situation but is without doubt the correct sentence for someone engaged in a case of reckless driving. Causing death by using a mobile telephone whilst driving will be regarded as an act of reckless driving.

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