Saturday, 28 November 2015

Emergency vehicles - incidence of!

A couple of weeks ago I remarkd to SWMBO that when out driving I had noted that 90% of 'blue light incidents' were ambulances. Of the remaining 10%, 8 would be police cars and only 2 would be fire engines. When I started this line of work I expected Fire engines and police cars to be much higher represented.
The next day I was delayed on the M4 by 2x fire engines, 2 police cars, a traffic officer and a vet - all of whom were a attending a horse box with blood oozing from the rear door - there is no way that could be anything but sad. :-(
The next working day after that I had half an hour spare before a delivery to Tesco at Crick so decided to tke a turn up the A5 to the truck stop. As I went round the last roundabout leading on to the single carriageway A5, I heard sirens. Then I realised that two fire engines were coming round after me so I pulled into a gap in the layby to let them past. One hooted in what I took to be a 'thank you'. Moving off again I was behind the second appliance who then braked, stopped, firemen got out and coned off the road right in front of me!  It was only then that I was able to see the car on the offside wrapped around a road sign. Reassuringly what I first thought was a fat bloke trapped behind the wheel turned out to be an air bag :-)
So, I did a U'y and rested in the layby for my delivery time.
20 mins later there was still no police car closing the road off at the roundabout and a steady procession of trucks and other vehicles were heading up into the closed off road and doing u-turns to the annoyance of following vehicles who couldn't (yet) see what was going on.
Last to arrive was an ambulance.
It just goes to show there is always an exception to any statement. Instead of the 90/8/2% I mentioned above, in that week it was more or less the other way round!

Daytime Headlights

Back in the 1970s, the only vehicles that had lights on during daylight hours were Volvos - with sidelights.  Then came legislation that meant you should use dipped headlights in poor weather conditions. In fact, under the law, outside 30mph zones, if you feel lights are necessary then you MUST use dipped headlights. Using sidelights alone would be an offence - apart from the presumption that 'daytime running lights' are somehow different :-)
Knowing the quirkiness of English law, definitions only started to appear as a result of case law. So, for example, 'fog' and 'heavy rain' became included as examples of 'poor weather'. However, these two conditions are well described by the Met Office - but this is not known by the general public who assume that anything in excess of drizzle is 'heavy rain' and 'fog' includes mist on distant hills. 'Heavy Rain' is only experienced in this country probably a couple of times a year (remember that the Met Office is essentially international and so its definitions have to span up to monsoon levels!). 'Fog' is a visibilty of less than 1000m (yes a Kilometre!) - although for traffic purposes it can be considered as low as 400m or even 200m.
The result of all this is that more and more people having been putting on more and more lights as the years have gone.
Yes, it is imporant to be seen, but this is now reaching the point where it is counterproductive.  So many cars with daylight headlights - desperate to be seen - are creating a real danger for cyclists and pedestrians who are easily lost amongst the rest of the traffic.  The situation is being exacerbated by halogen, and now LED, lighting which - being more intense - creates a higher dazzle factor. This doesn't stop when the lights are passed.
The human eye responds in seconds to accomodate increased light levels. This is probably an 'eye-protection' neccessity. However, the reverse is NOT true. After experiencing a bright flash of light, it can take approaching 20 MINUTES for the eye to fully recover. This means that one is effectively temporarily, but partially, blinded for a period. This is not good. Even high up in a lorry cab it is not possible to keep out of the line of sight of too many lights.
So, lets save headlights for when its dark (or as other legislation demands).
The only exception should be for motorcyclists

Monday, 23 November 2015

Late leavers...

We've all been there, I suspect. You know, the moment after a bit of distraction when you suddenly realise you are just getting to the slip road for the junction you mean to leave at?  "Mirror, Signal., Manoevre" is the correct procedure and, if you can't do so safely then you should just carry on to the next junction and either back-track or find another route.

Anyway, any trucker will tell you that far too many cars, so busy on getting past you, leave it to the last minute. Presumably they miss all the signs for the previous mile or decide they have more time to carve across your bows than they actually have?  A couple of weeks ago I saw my most extreme case however. I was heading south on M1, just past junction 24 heading almost past J23a when a sports car decided to go the for the 'last minute cutting-in'. Its a very acute angle containing first of all the white painted cross-hatching on the tarmac, then that 'grey area' where all the grit and rubbish collects, then the grassy bit before the armco crash barrier...  So the sports car manages to bounce over the grass, just missing the armco, and rejoins the lane he should have been in 200m before. Fortunately there was nothing else already in that space otherwise they would have hit each other.

Totally Without ATtention?
Or, more simply, TWAT (As John Cooper Clark might say)