I've come up with an idea to reduce congestion and accidents on motorways: ban crap cars from going on them.
Along with my plan to scrap car tax and raise the amount of tax on petrol, cars will be placed into a category at the same time they go through their MOT. This would allow the government to stop cars without saftey measures such as Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), and possibly even Electronic Stability Control (ESC, built on top of ABS) and Emergency Brake Assist (EBA), from driving on the motorway. You could also apply the same logic to crap cars like the G-Whizz (maximum speed of 40mph) or underpowered cars that are fine for driving around town and squeezing into small spaces, but lack the required acceleration to comfortably join motorway traffic, and some (e.g. Smart cars) look like they'd flip and roll like a die across the road if they ever had an accident. Your old "classic" cars wouldn't be able to drive on motorways, but they could still get to their destination via the A roads. Just like other car drivers could follow non-motorway routes. And with a large increase in tax on petrol, you might put off more of the commuters, pushing them onto public transport (although this really does need improvement) or forcing them to live close to where they work (or perhaps into a better car so they can keep driving in motorways). As an exception, certain vehicles will be allowed on motorways where required, but will have to travel with a police escort and only during certain offpeak hours. And with all those measures in place, it would hopefully be safe enough to raise the speed limit on the motorways to at least 80mph. Possibly even 100mph. After all, most people already seem to drive somewhere between 80 and 90.
And a slightly more radical proposal: mandatory eye tests for drivers. This has the added benefit of early detection of problems caused by working conditions or health problems, but mostly stops short sighted people from being allowed to drive cars. I haven't had my eyes tested in about a decade, but I know my right eye isn't as good as it used to be. I dread to think about other drivers, especially the older ones that passed their tests decades ago, when driving was a totally different experience.
Here are some facts to help make sense of my suggestion:
A 2003 Australian study by Monash University Accident Research Centre found that ABS:
- Reduced the risk of multiple vehicle crashes by 18 percent
- Reduced the risk of run-off-road crashes by 35 percent.
On high-traction surfaces such as bitumen, or concrete many (though not all) ABS-equipped cars are able to attain braking distances better (i.e. shorter) than those that would be easily possible without the benefit of ABS. In gravel and deep snow, ABS tends to increase braking distances, but motorways aren't usually known for their gravel or deep snow.
Some argue that, with ESC, very dangerous drivers will be able to drive faster before traction limits are reached, so when the vehicle loses control, it will happen at higher speeds, causing more severe crashes. However, this is not possible because ESC only applies brakes and/or reduces power and does not increase the traction limit of the vehicle. Therefore a vehicle with ESC cannot be pushed faster through a corner than a vehicle without ESC. Because ESC applies brakes and/or reduces engine power, it tends to slow the vehicle down when it reaches traction limits and typically prevents the vehicle from surpassing traction limits. Overall, ESC systems have resulted in a marked drop in accident rates, overriding most arguments against its implementation.
Traction control is not just used for moving a vehicle from stationary without slippage. During hard maneuvers in a front wheel drive car there is a point where the wheels cannot both steer and drive the car at the same time without losing traction. With traction control, it's less likely for this loss of control to occur. There is a limit though, when the tires lose grip. The car will not corner as sharply as indicated by the front wheels, this is Understeer. In some front wheel drive cars, Traction Control can induce Lift-off oversteer due to its throttle retarding capabilities. This can keep some cars stable in long maneuvers. In rear wheel drive cars, traction control can prevent Oversteer.
Crumple zones work by managing the crash energy so that it is absorbed within the frontal section of the vehicle, and by preventing intrusion into or deformation of the passenger cabin. This acts to ensure front seat occupants are properly protected against injury. In simplistic terms, this is done by strengthening the passenger cabin part of the body by using more reinforced beams and increasingly, higher strength steels. A common misconception about crumple zones is that they reduce safety by allowing the vehicle's body to collapse, crushing the occupants. The marked improvement over the past two decades in high speed crash test results proves this is a misconception. Modern vehicles using what are commonly termed 'crumple zones' provide, on average, far superior protection for their occupants in severe tests than older models.