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Confused52

Motorway woes

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Hardly a day goes by without serious delays on the local Motorways due to a serious accident. The rate at which they occur seems to have increased significantly over the last few years to the point where it seems that the problem has to be more significant than just driver errors. The accident rate seems to be growing faster than the number of cars. So what is going wrong and what can be done about it?

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Read a piece about two young girls killed in a car driven by the 17yo, who'd just passed her test. Her parents are now campaigning for a "graduated" test. As usual, I would go further, if the test included a full medical, including psycho screening;  applied every 10 years or so; perhaps we'd see a radical reduction in qualified drivers and thus less vehicles on the road and a lot less accidents.  We've of course, got to look forward to driverless cars, which could mean even more accidents !

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Obs, Lets try again. The number of All Vehicles went down between 2016 and 2017 on the M62 at Birchwood and on the M6 past Thelwall on to Birmingham. That excludes the change being due to too many drivers because there are less. So why do accident rates seem to have gone up? A more congested road does not necessarily mean more cars. The usual prejudices will not help here what have you observed!

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I've observed a steady increase in the number of vehicles on our roads. In the 1950s you'd be lucky to see one car parked in a terraced residential street, now chocker both sides, with some houses owning more than two cars - so yes more vehicles.

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One of the things that was very noticeable when comparing motorways here with the US was that we seem to have quite a wide range of speeds which gives rise to more overtaking and lane changes which in turn could lead to more accidents.

It'd be interesting to think how things might work out if rather than slowing everyone down, we arrange for average speed cameras to be set to 70 mph across the whole motorway network. Then just like in the roadworks, there'd be no reason to overtake if you can't go any faster than the car in front and no reason to follow up someone's backside for the same reason. That just leaves those who use the motorways but insist on driving at 50 mph or less.

 

Bill :)

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Part of the problem with the M6 right now and over the last couple of years is the 50 mph 'smart motorway stretch'. I travel up and down it maybe four times a week. Along the entire stretch you'll see endemic lane hogging with the usual clumping and congestion as well as lorries tailgating and undertaking as a result. Coupled with the usual moronic behaviour - last minute exits across two or three lanes, phone use, the assumption that indicators give you right of way etc, it's a recipe for accidents. Don't see many police cars either. 

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Is the 50mph limit accompanied by active work I wonder? I always feel like a pariah actually keeping to the 50 limit in the roadworks. Does anyone know what the enforcement limits are on the average speed cameras. I also find that working smart motorways are just an excuse for more speed limits and cameras too.

I always worry about comparisons with the US because I remember saying how well behaved everyone was and my host pointing out that was to be expected when you didn't know if the next car driver was carrying a gun.

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Didn't the USA have a blanket 55MPH speed limit on their freeways and they found increasing the speed limit reduced accidents?

I also wonder about the number of spreed limited vehicles on our roads. Some are regulated at 56, some at 70 but in addition operators regulate them at lower speeds. I  saw a transit van today which had a sign saying it was speed limited to 60 while a HGV said it was had a sigh stating it was regulated to 50MPH/80KPH

The lack of Policing on our roads must be a factor too. Used ti do a lot of miles and recall quite a lot of Police in their Range Rovers and Vaxual Carltons out on the roads, especially on Sunny days enforcing the law and turning a blind eye when the situation warranted such as speeding at 3am on a deserted motorway. Now we have cameras that catch speeding.

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Have been passed on the motorway by several vans that have signs saying "this vehicle limited to 60mph". (Was doing 70 plus at the time, according to my speedo.)

Given that all newer cars have electronic engine management systems, why can't a limit algorithm be set by a simple signal to limit it's top speed to whatever the speed limit is on that particular road. If nobody can go any faster then there is not a lot of need for over taking. (or even possibility if all vehicles are travelling at their max speed)

Could even be of aid to prevent prolonged police chases, quick signal to the fleeing car and the engine cuts out end of road chase beginning of foot chase.

Bad driving is something else entirely and will never be stamped out, no matter how hard the police or others try.

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2 hours ago, Evil Sid said:

Have been passed on the motorway by several vans that have signs saying "this vehicle limited to 60mph". (Was doing 70 plus at the time, according to my speedo.)

Given that all newer cars have electronic engine management systems, why can't a limit algorithm be set by a simple signal to limit it's top speed to whatever the speed limit is on that particular road. If nobody can go any faster then there is not a lot of need for over taking. (or even possibility if all vehicles are travelling at their max speed)

Could even be of aid to prevent prolonged police chases, quick signal to the fleeing car and the engine cuts out end of road chase beginning of foot chase.

Bad driving is something else entirely and will never be stamped out, no matter how hard the police or others try.

The advent of autonomous vehicles will address some of these issues, including the ability for linked vehicles to travel as a train of vehicles. When this will happen I don't know because the major obstacle in the path of all this happening is the number of morons and psychos already on the roads. Mistakes happen and can be accounted for but these people are either oblivious or don't care. 

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Completely autonomous vehicles may well be the future but they're that far away we won't see any accident reduction from them in most of our lifetimes. What will make a difference though is the enhanced safety features being introduced in many of the modern cars and this is available right now.

For example, a car I drove recently had radar controlled braking that matched the speed and distance to the car in front. What people think is a safe distance for a given speed varies enormously, too much and people jump into your space while at the other end we get the tailgaters. By allowing automation to decide this distance, we could dramatically reduce the accident rate. It's not too obtrusive and most of the time you'd hardly notice what it was doing. Any slowdown was very gentle but let the car in front slam on and these things react in milliseconds, applying the brakes in a precisely controlled manner thus avoiding any skidding.

Another thing I was impressed by was the lane change warning system. Fail to indicate and there was a jolt on the steering wheel that kept you in lane. Small indicators on the side mirrors showed any car approaching at speed or just sitting in the blind spot and again movement into their lane was prevented. Ok, it's not fully autonomous but these sorts of enhancements a huge step forward and are available now.
 

Bill :)

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I think you'll see fully autonomous vehicles sooner than you think, first in city centres where other cars will be banned, then with freight and cabs, then more and more on other roads. All of this is the end game for Tesla, Uber, Dyson and Amazon as well as the car makers themselves. There's some interesting research about what happens to motorists' driving behaviour when they know another car is autonomous, because they make different ethical choices and know that the autonomous car will not respond in the same way as a human driver. Basically they behave more like arseholes. I'd like t link to it but can't be bothered to find it :)

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One of the biggest problems in the UK is that car ownership & use, & reliance on road transport has  been thrust upon already overcrowded residential & industrial towns & cities. Our industrial revolution produced the need for rapid industrial expansion & necessary workforce to live alongside & drive  the growth happening since & including the 18th Century. The birth of the industrial revolution started the need for mass transportation in the future but it was never envisaged what  would be needed in terms of road space &  transport systems because there wasn't the vision or technology available. Ever since we have been trying to shoehorn too much traffic into too little space. Contrast our economy with the new economies that have emerged since the Industrial Revolution , the large ones like America had space galore & the hindsight of our needs to give them the foresight to build roads to suit their industrial & residential needs. Australia is a prime example. I have been in Perth for a month & ,apart from the old part of town, the city has had the space to spread as required & the space to build up to date highways to fits its own development plan. It is an ideal example of how a city has been able to develop because it has space available to do so.

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Grey Man

I'm sure cars will eventually evolve that way but I suspect that behind all the hype and sales talk we're still a very long way off what people would consider as a normal car that can drive itself anywhere at normal speeds. 

They're still struggling big time with the technology but I reckon it's people that'll be the limiting factor because the private motorist wont want to pay extra money for a car with no steering wheel or pedals that drives like an old biddy and only knows it's way around certain areas. Fine if it's a local delivery vehicle where companies could reduce labour costs but as a private mode of transport I can't see any benefits unless you've got more money than sense and like being scared to death.

I believe we will see technology playing an ever increasing role in private motoring and this in turn will hopefully lead to a reduction in accidents but fully autonomous private cars, nahh that's a long way off.

Can anyone imagine one of these trying to get across the roundabout near Asda at rush hour. :unsure:

 

Bill :)

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They will probably switch off their sensors and hit the gas Bill. That's what humans seem to do :unsure:.

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18 hours ago, Evil Sid said:

Have been passed on the motorway by several vans that have signs saying "this vehicle limited to 60mph". (Was doing 70 plus at the time, according to my speedo.)

Given that all newer cars have electronic engine management systems, why can't a limit algorithm be set by a simple signal to limit it's top speed to whatever the speed limit is on that particular road. If nobody can go any faster then there is not a lot of need for over taking. (or even possibility if all vehicles are travelling at their max speed)

Could even be of aid to prevent prolonged police chases, quick signal to the fleeing car and the engine cuts out end of road chase beginning of foot chase.

Bad driving is something else entirely and will never be stamped out, no matter how hard the police or others try.

That is true but many commercial vehicles are speed limited!

I am not sure speed limiting vehicles is the answer, there are many other variables too, power, weight of vehicles and the thousands of other reasons accidents happen. 

13 hours ago, grey_man said:

I think you'll see fully autonomous vehicles sooner than you think, first in city centres where other cars will be banned, then with freight and cabs, then more and more on other roads. All of this is the end game for Tesla, Uber, Dyson and Amazon as well as the car makers themselves. There's some interesting research about what happens to motorists' driving behaviour when they know another car is autonomous, because they make different ethical choices and know that the autonomous car will not respond in the same way as a human driver. Basically they behave more like arseholes. I'd like t link to it but can't be bothered to find it :)

I think fully autonomous vehicles are a long way away. They have not mastered making autonomous lawn mowers or vacuum cleaners yet and not at all at a reasonable price. Self drive vehicles might become a reality soon on major road like motorways but there will be many situations like busy town roads were it is decades away.

8 hours ago, Davy51 said:

One of the biggest problems in the UK is that car ownership & use, & reliance on road transport has  been thrust upon already overcrowded residential & industrial towns & cities. Our industrial revolution produced the need for rapid industrial expansion & necessary workforce to live alongside & drive  the growth happening since & including the 18th Century. The birth of the industrial revolution started the need for mass transportation in the future but it was never envisaged what  would be needed in terms of road space &  transport systems because there wasn't the vision or technology available. Ever since we have been trying to shoehorn too much traffic into too little space. Contrast our economy with the new economies that have emerged since the Industrial Revolution , the large ones like America had space galore & the hindsight of our needs to give them the foresight to build roads to suit their industrial & residential needs. Australia is a prime example. I have been in Perth for a month & ,apart from the old part of town, the city has had the space to spread as required & the space to build up to date highways to fits its own development plan. It is an ideal example of how a city has been able to develop because it has space available to do so.

UK is no different then any other country. America has some of the worlds most congested cities in the world, Paris, Moscow, Beijing also make the list.

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Milky i was once told that accidents do not happen they are caused.

There are two causes of accidents.

1. somebody doing something they should not.

2. somebody not doing something they should.

Some logic minded person also once pointed out that 100% of accidents were caused by people. (can't say i agree with the figure but they were trying to make a joke of sorts.) His argument ran that if you can take people out of the equation there would be no accidents...Totally impossible of course as people would have to get involved in any process at some point even it it was only at the idea stage.

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8 hours ago, Milky said:

That is true but many commercial vehicles are speed limited!

I am not sure speed limiting vehicles is the answer, there are many other variables too, power, weight of vehicles and the thousands of other reasons accidents happen. 

I think fully autonomous vehicles are a long way away. They have not mastered making autonomous lawn mowers or vacuum cleaners yet and not at all at a reasonable price. Self drive vehicles might become a reality soon on major road like motorways but there will be many situations like busy town roads were it is decades away.

UK is no different then any other country. America has some of the worlds most congested cities in the world, Paris, Moscow, Beijing also make the list.

I think you're right in many ways, but there are dozens of cities already piloting autonomous vehicles and drawing up the necessary legislation. That will be where it begins, sometime within the next ten years. Cars driven by people will be restricted in major city centres. Then the creep on to the rest of the network begins.   

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