SPEED – KILLER OR LIFE­SAVER

Classic Driver - - FRONT PAGE -

State High­ways, in­clud­ing mo­tor­ways, in many parts of N.Z. con­sist of many curves joined by rel­a­tively few short straights and the oc­ca­sional pass­ing lane of un­known length and some ter­mi­nat­ing around blind cor­ners.

It is not un­usual for cau­tious driv­ers and those not fa­mil­iar with the road (in­clud­ing tourists) to drive at a speed of 80-85 km/h and on en­ter­ing a straight speed up to 100 km/h, mak­ing pass­ing dif­fi­cult within the cur­rent max­i­mum speed with­out in­cur­ring a speed­ing ticket, of 105 km/h on pub­lic hol­i­days or oth­er­wise 110 km/h. This sit­u­a­tion re­sults in a “train” of cars, buses and trucks await­ing a pass­ing op­por­tu­nity, which are few and far be­tween, and the cause of frus­trated driv­ers.

The main prob­lem, apart from the lim­ited pass­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties is that when they do oc­cur the speed limit does not al­low many cars to pass when pass­ing lanes are present or to pass safely when they are not.

The fol­low­ing var­i­ous over­tak­ing speeds and ap­prox­i­mate dis­tance es­ti­mates in­clude the two-sec­ond rule be­fore and af­ter over­tak­ing. 1. Car trav­el­ling at 100 km/h Over­tak­ing car at 105 km/h To­tal dis­tance trav­elled dur­ing over­tak­ing 2450 me­tres. 2. Car trav­el­ling at 100 km/h Over­tak­ing car at 110 km/h To­tal dis­tance trav­elled dur­ing over­tak­ing 1260 me­tres. 3. Car trav­el­ling at 100 km/h

Over­tak­ing car at 125 km/h To­tal dis­tance trav­elled dur­ing over­tak­ing 504 me­tres 4. B-train trav­el­ling at 90 km/h Over­tak­ing car at 105 km/h To­tal dis­tance trav­elled dur­ing over­tak­ing 808 me­tres 5. B-train trav­el­ling at 90 km/h Over­tak­ing car at 110 km/h To­tal dis­tance trav­elled dur­ing over­tak­ing 619 me­tres 6. B-train trav­el­ling at 90 km/h Over­tak­ing car at 125 km/h To­tal dis­tance trav­elled dur­ing over­tak­ing 377 me­tres The above show the in­her­ent safety of a higher pass­ing speed, par­tic­u­larly when there is no pass­ing lane and faced with the prospect of on-com­ing traf­fic and when there is a pass­ing lane al­low­ing a greater num­ber of cars to pass.

A fur­ther fac­tor, which would im­prove safety, is at the com­mence­ment of a pass­ing lane a prom­i­nent sign dis­play­ing the dis­tance of the pass­ing lane, at half dis­tance a sign show­ing the dis­tance to its ter­mi­na­tion and fi­nally a sign show­ing 300 me­tres to its ter­mi­na­tion.

An in­crease in per­mit­ted speed tol­er­ance to 125 km/h dur­ing over­tak­ing would re­duce the dis­tance on the “wrong” side of the road by nearly 78% when pass­ing a car at 100 km/h and nearly 53% when pass­ing a B-train trav­el­ling at 90 km/h and the po­ten­tial to save many lives.

The large ad­vance­ment in tech­nol­ogy of mod­ern cars per­mits safer han­dling at higher speed than that legally per­mit­ted. The real prob­lem is in­ad­e­quate driver train­ing.

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