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12 comments

Shake, Rattle, and Roll

Posted April 20, 2008 8:28 AM

Inventions including three point seat belts, shocks and struts, air bags, and even ABS have all helped deal with the problems of automotive vibration and stability control. Yet the human element can still push the car beyond it design limits to deal with varying road conditions. Now we have stability control technology becoming more prevalent in automotive design. Will that be enough to deliver an added layer of safety and control? Or are even further driver safety measures needed to reduce accidents?

The preceding article is a "sneak peek" from Shock, Vibration & Noise, a newsletter from GlobalSpec. To stay up-to-date and informed on industry trends, products, and technologies, subscribe to Shock, Vibration & Noise today.

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#1

Re: Shake, Rattle, and Roll

04/20/2008 12:37 PM

To quote a movie character, "you have to know your limitations", an automotive accident, is by definition not an accident, it is the end result of someone driving beyond their skill level. For example; the kids love to hot rod their little 'ricer cars', Honda, Toyota, Subaru, etc, ending up making incredible horsepower and go out street racing, ending up in a place they never intended to be, with all the associated press about kids killing people by street racing. The solution is to provide them a place to race, local tracks open for races and instruction on 'how to'.

The 'how to' applies to all vehicles, I can't count the number of people who i have pulled out of a ditch who drive a four wheel drive SUV, they all said 'I just don't know what happened, it's four wheel drive, I shouldn't be in a ditch', they just didn't get it, it's not the go it's the stop. No one ever told them that four wheel drive will not help stop you in less then optimal situations.

Several years back one of the major tire manufactures took a hit when SUVs rolled on the interstate highways, because people reacted in the wrong way, and with the wrong tire pressure. Hands up, who checked their tire pressure this week? The problem had nothing to do with the actual tire, it was the lack of maintained pressure and lack of 'how to' drive the vehicle.

Adding more and more systems to a vehicle sounds like a good approach, looks like the manufactures 'care' about it's customers , it lets to government point to the initiates and say we 'care' , but it is still the easy way out.

The correct approach is driver training, not just how to parallel park and turning corners correctly, but 'real' training on a skid pad, correct collision avoidance, and a graduated licensing program, with testing at each level.

California is for once doing the right thing by eliminating cell phone use in vehicles, elimination of reading the news, eating your lunch and applying make-up is a bit more difficult. Perhaps slowing down the pace of our society is the key to this. People feel pressured to be at work early and have no time once there for anything else but work. I was most productive working for a company who allowed things like reading the news, and providing facilities like showers for those who chose to use a bicycle to get to work, less pressure to preform ended is higher performance and higher sales.

There will always be people who do stupid things in their cars, leading to unintended results, more and more technology is not the solution.

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#3
In reply to #1

Re: Shake, Rattle, and Roll

04/21/2008 2:30 AM

Kevin,

Ditto for Australia.

Thanks,

S.

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#5
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Re: Shake, Rattle, and Roll

04/21/2008 6:30 AM

I disagree completely about technology not being the solution.

You are making the same arguments the car manufacturers made back in the 50's. The reason crashes are more survivable today is because of advancements in safety. This has to continue.

All you have to do is look at the Work Rally Championship. These race cars are in effect a modified (heavily modified) road cars. I have seen these cars crash at 130mph, rip the engine from the front of the car, fall 50ft down an embankment and land on it's roof, - Driver and co-driver walked away. This is due to strengthened chassis and roll cages.

If you raced in F1 for 10 years in the 1970's you had a 50% chance of dying. Now, there hasn't been a fatality in over 10 years. Why? Technology advancements in driver safety and a willingness to spend money in this area (mainly due to the death of arguably the best F1 driver that the world's ever seen - Ayrton Senna)

One must remember the Automotive manufacturers are a tight bunch. They will spend the bulk on their R&D money on comfort, looks, drivability, increased BHP (what sells cars). There will only be a willingness to spend money on safety if the public demand it (same goes for fuel economy). There is plenty of room for improvement in this area. The answer is very simple - don't buy unsafe cars - and the manufacturers will stop making them.

I agree wholeheartedly with more relevant training and giving the youth somewhere to race and most importantly improved road conditions.

However, as you say, there will always be idiotic, drunk, tired, inexperienced drivers out there - I just hope when one crashes head-on into my car that the crumple zones absorb most of the impact, the air bag deploys, the steering column collapses, the seatbelt tensioners pin me to the seat and with any luck the will be enough room left in the strengthened pedal box that my legs aren't crushed.

You build a car that can reach a speed of 150mph you got to expect to walk out of an impact at 60mph

Regards

Jon

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#2

Re: Shake, Rattle, and Roll

04/21/2008 1:23 AM

Good answer Kevin,

I would just add this. The more we 'safetyproof' not just autos but every facet of life, the more people will take unnecessary chances, thinking thier safetynet will hold. It's the old story of 'givem an inch and they'll take a mile'. Society apears to be trying to coddle people to death (literally). No more responsibility for ones individual actions. We are being litigated and PC'd into oblivion.

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#4
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Re: Shake, Rattle, and Roll

04/21/2008 2:38 AM

I'm with you there too, Shadetree.

Just darned pig-ignorance is mostly the cause.

Folks just don't know the limits (of darned near anything) anymore.

I like the story of the guy who just bought a Motorhome, engaged the cruise-controll and stepped back to make a coffee. Didn't have the slightest idea why it should crash.

I think we have to engender a society with some old-fashioned values-- old folks teaching young folks how to stay out of trouble and get a better life.

Proud to be a 'Grumpy'.

Keep up the good work.

S

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#6

Re: Shake, Rattle, and Roll

04/21/2008 8:23 AM

Thank you guys I apreciate the kind words.

A point on adding safety devices, when the air-bag was first available, people figured 'hay I am safe I do not need a seat belt' nothing could be further from the truth. People where told it had an air bag, but never told how they worked, all they had was all the hype over being safe.

On rally cars and F1, since I am a former rally driver I think I can speak on this, the skill level of the driver is so far ahead of the regular commuter as to be on totally different planets. I am all for roll cages, the Bricklen was an example of a very safe vehicle due to it's built in cage.

I would on the other hand love to have a car with a carbon fiber monocock frame. F1 has also removed some of the perceived safety devices, the traction control being one of them, attempting to bring the 'skill' back into the racing

Problem with all the driver aides is removing the skill required in those situations when the aide is no longer applicable. The driver never had to deal with a situation and ends up in difficulty beyond their worst dreams because of the lack of skill.

The cars of the 50's where just as safe as a car today, it is the poor driving skills that cause the problems, and the miss use of the product. It is the foot on the accelerator pedal and the hands on the steering wheel, not the vehicle in its self.

Place a vehicle in a vacant parking lot, now look at it, can anyone tell if it is safe? In fact it is neither safe or a danger, it is simply a machine. The occupant behind the wheel changes the equation. An extreme example, place a 45 cal colt on the ground in the same parking lot, is it in it self dangerous? Again no, the observer has no means of knowing if it has ammunition in the clip, whether it ever functions. Now would you let a child play with it, of course not, unless they had been trained in the correct operation of the fire arm.

An automobile is just as dangerous as a fire arm in the wrong hands, so why is there so little training on the operation of the automobile?

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#7
In reply to #6

Re: Shake, Rattle, and Roll

04/21/2008 10:19 AM

Kevin,

Just to comments on a few of your points:

On rally cars and F1, since I am a former rally driver I think I can speak on this, the skill level of the driver is so far ahead of the regular commuter as to be on totally different planets. - There has been countless rally and F1 driver road falilities. - One's skill level does not prevent them from driving at excessive speed or some fool pulling out in front of them or falling asleep at the wheel.

Can you honestly say: You have never driven when excessively tired, You have never driven at a speed that was excessive for the road condition or to react to the unexpected. Make sure you think back to when you were a young fellow.

Problem with all the driver aides is removing the skill required in those situations when the aide is no longer applicable. The driver never had to deal with a situation and ends up in difficulty beyond their worst dreams because of the lack of skill. - Some people should never be allowed to hold a driving licience, however, our ecomomies make it necessary for these people to drive - they need all the aids they can get.

The cars of the 50's where just as safe as a car today. - I have seen crash test footage of a car (50's American, don't know the model, but standard for the time). The car was crashed into a steel lamppost at 50mph. The lamp post split the car to it's rear seats - maybe there was safer driving conditions back then, purely due to quantity of cars on the roads and the car's BHP per tonne, but they were not safe cars. Your best bet back then was to be thrown from the car, better than being crushed or impailed on the steering wheel.

It's all very well saying that people need to be more accountable - but people are people - A person may spend 1000's of hours in their life driving a car but it only takes miliseconds to make a decision that will end a life

Sorry for the rant

Jon

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#11
In reply to #7

Re: Shake, Rattle, and Roll

04/23/2008 6:09 PM

Hi Jon

Yes in fact I did misbehave in my youth, back then street racing was not so politically charged and I did quite a bit, funny thing it was all quite controlled and no one ever got hurt over the five years that particular part of the city was used.

Driving because the have no other means of getting to work just doesn't cut it. Poor drivers should not be given a license just because, public transit is a viable option.

My point about the vehicles of the 50s is simply if the driver does not exceed their abilities the extra protection of todays vehicles is never needed. I have a close friend who has driven various cars for over 50 years, never had an accident, never had a citation, it can be done, one just has to be responsible about the vocation of driving.

It all comes down to the operator.

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#12
In reply to #6

Re: Shake, Rattle, and Roll

04/24/2008 9:52 AM

There's been fatalities in F1 but the thing we have to remember is that they ARE in a race. It's their job to push the limits. My kids are just about the age to get their driver's license (14 & 15) and I've been "teaching" them the DO's and DON'T's of driving since they were about 8. The fact that they have to be aware of all their surroundings at ALL times when driving and anticipate what that driver is gonna do and if that kid is just gonna jump in front of the car, etc.

We have a game we play when I drive with them where they try to identify potential dangers before me. They're getting good...

I decided to pay a little more for their training course and enroll them in Young drivers of Canada where they teach you defensive driving techniques (how to avoid obstacles, panic situations, etc.). The same kind of techniques my dad showed me but given by professional drivers. It should give them an edge...

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#8

Re: Shake, Rattle, and Roll

04/21/2008 7:51 PM

Hey folks, If you want to remove the cannon-fodder drivers from the road, finish the technology for auto drive cars. The beginnings are out there (GPS, higher speed computers, infra-red camera, radar) we just need to combine them in an effective way.

My two cents, Blue

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#9
In reply to #8

Re: Shake, Rattle, and Roll

04/21/2008 8:23 PM

Hello Blue,

You sound inteligent. Why not register? It puts us on a more even footing.

I'm sure auto-drive cars would meet the requirements for some people but, as for myself, I'd have a hard time relinquishing control. It's not always about the destination so much as it is about the trip. I, for one, often run to town with several destinations in mind and it just depends on how things work out as to which gets done first (or at all for that matter).

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#10
In reply to #9

Re: Shake, Rattle, and Roll

04/21/2008 8:35 PM

Hey Shade, thanks for the vote of confidence.. I sent you a private message. It should explain more.

Blue

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