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LETTERS to Fleet News editor John Maslen.

Speeding: let’s not lose sight of the true facts

SIR – I think the Government and its agents are in danger of failing the public in their singularly focused drive to abolish speeding.
That is not to say that speeding is a good thing, but neither is it the devil incarnate. The Department for Transport has recently issued two documents dealing with statistics on contributory factors relating to road accidents involving injuries. One document deals with contributory factors in road accidents and the other does exactly the same, but focuses entirely on excessive speed.
The data they have used is not perfect, but does provide an insight into the causes of accidents. The document dealing with speed seems to be there to justify the fixation that all Government bodies have with speed and their desire to limit all aspects of speed.
Let us get a few things clear. Speed does not kill. A plane can fly at twice the speed of sound but the people on board do not die.
A Formula One racing car can travel at 200mph and the driver does not die. But if the driver tried to negotiate a tight bend at that speed, he would almost certainly crash. This crash would be due to ‘inappropriate speed’ and the driver’s failure to respond to the change in circumstances facing him.
The biggest cause of fatal accidents was the ‘loss of control of vehicle’, as was the biggest cause of serious injury accidents.
The biggest cause of slight injury accidents and the biggest cause of all injury accidents was ‘failed to avoid vehicle or object in the carriageway’.
As a driver, I know that losing control of my vehicle would be my fault. To lose control I have made an error of judgement in my use of the vehicle. As any professional driver will tell you, losing control at a low speed hurts less than losing control at high speed because the lower speed lessens the impact.
This is the crux of the issue. A professional driver knows when to drive fast and when to drive slowly, and to do this he or she constantly appraises the condition of the vehicle and the surrounding environment.
The cause of ‘loss of control of vehicle’ is clearly a training issue for drivers, not just for company car drivers, and should be dealt with by either better initial testing or regular continual assessment throughout the lifetime of the driver.
The cause of ‘failed to avoid vehicle or object in the carriageway’ is, in its basic form, a failure to see a hazard in time to respond.
The fact a driver did not see something in the carriageway is worrying on two counts. Firstly, if they are one of the many drivers driving with defective eyesight, then they present a hazard to themselves and others through their own recklessness and should be dealt with as such. Secondly, if they do not see objects then their attention is not focused on the job in hand, driving.
The car seems to me to be the only piece of dangerous machinery you are allowed to operate with minimal training and little supervision. The recklessness of some drivers in this regard is astounding, I have observed drivers reading newspapers while travelling at speed, and applying make-up at traffic islands and, worst of all, tying a tie while travelling at speed (no hands on the wheel equals no control over the vehicle).

Nigel Grainger
WFQ Legal Transport Consultants, Milton Keynes

Tyre sealants are built for full safety

SIR – John Crompton claimed that during a puncture event, secondary damage can occur that could leave a tyre in a dangerous condition (‘Tyre sealants are not a permanent solution’, Fleet News, January 20).
I would like to point out that quality modern liquid tyre sealants are designed to fail where irreparable damage has occurred. In the event of damage beyond the repair envelope of the product, they are designed to control deflation so as to avoid catastrophic collapse of the tyre.
If you have ever experienced a sudden loss of pressure at speed, it is very frightening and extremely dangerous. Surely controlled deflation is a safety benefit, not the negative your correspondent holds it out to be.
Quoting the British Rubber Manufacturers’ Association is hardly balanced. The BRMA’s members include all of the major tyre manufacturers who have a vested interest in selling tyres and are not going to be happy about products entering the market that extend the life of tyres. The British Standard for tyre repair is 20 years out of date and does not take account of this new technology.
Public safety is more important than the interests of the tyre manufacturers and it’s about time the Government stepped in and investigated these products, which have been used by the British military in combat zones to great effect, and give the British public clear, unbiased guidance on their use.

Steve Moylan
By email

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