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Utility Motors in France.

10th September 1908
Page 6
Page 6, 10th September 1908 — Utility Motors in France.
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

The Russian Market.

French makers are reminded by the Press that Russia offers a wide field for the sale of tammtercial motor vehicles of sound design and thoroughly robust construt t ion .

Duty-Free Exhibits.

The Director-General of Customs in France has issued instructions to all frontier and coastal offices to admit motors, locomotives, agricultural, horticultural, and viticultural machinery, motorcars, cycles, tri-cars, etc., intended for the Bour:.ees Agricultural Exhibition duty free. Every foreign exhibit must he dispatched from France within one month from the date of the closing of the exhibition, or the protective deposit which must he made with the Customs authorities will be forfeited.

Petits Poids Lourds.

The exact route to be followed by tl,e taxicabs and other vehicles engaged in the French light industrial vehicle competition next month has now been announced. Starting from the Porte Maillot, where the parking station will be installed, the route will be through Garenne and Bezons to Maisons-Laffitte, over very rough pave and equallybad macadam ; through the Forest of St. Germain to Poissy, the road is good macadam ; leaving the town of St. Germain, the competitors will have to descend into the valley again by a good macadam road, then immediately climb out again by a very steep and roughlypaved road leading into Louveciennes. into Versailles the road is good, from the " Ville du Roi " to the capital, the highway through Ville d'Avray is satisfactory, though the grades are steep. There is further bad pave along the banks of the river just outside Paris, then macadam up to the Porte Maillot. Altogether, the route selected is about as difficult as any that could be found in the neighbourhood of the capital and will consequently put to a thorough test the vehicles and drivers engaged in me October competition. The Incompetent Taxicabby in Paris.

The growing frequency of taxicab accidents in Paris has shown the necessity of more stringent regulations governing the drivers of these vehicles. Parisian horse-cab drivers are notoriously careless and incompetent ; but, by reason of their slow speed and the lightness of their vehicles, accidents caused by them are not usually of a serious nature. There is seldom enough life in the Paris cab horse for it to take the bit in its mouth, or even to get beyond a steady trot.

When motorcabs were first put on the streets, about three years ago, experienced men were to be found in plenty to handle them, many of these drivers having geaduated in the early days of motoring, having been trained in the shops, and haying had experience on all kinds of vehicles. Speed was high from the beginning, for, owing to the tolerance of the Parisian police, there has never been any attempt arbitrarily to limit the rate of travel. " Drive with due consideration to the conditions of the street and the safety of the public " has always been the rule that the Paris sergent de vile has been told to work on. The rule was a good one, for, although the speed was so high as In appear at first sight dangerous to foreign visitors brought up in speed-restricting towns, its value was proved by the rarety of accidents.

With the rapid development of the taxicab industry, the incompetent driver made his appearance. There are now between 2,500 and 3,000 taxicabs in Paris, operating in an area which, in comparison with that of London, is very small. Men of all trades have been drawn to the taxicab, the ranks of the drivers including horse cabbies, mechanics, clerks, and men of various trades who have little or no knowledge of the road, or of the vehicles they have to handle. The larger companies train their men on special chassis fitted with a kind of wagonette body capable of carrying half a dozen men. A competent man has charge of each group, starts with them in the suburbs, then gradually works towards the more crowded parts of the city. Theoretical explanations of the working of the engine and running gear, at various quiet spots in the suburbs, are a part of the curriculum. The training is certainly valuable, but it cannot prevent the reckless and comparatively inexperienced driver from handling his cab in a dangerous manner as soon as he is let free from his instructor. Paris is no place for the half-fledged motorist, for traffic here is dense, speed is higher than anywhere else, and the really professional drivers are the most skilled in any city of Europe or America. Unfortunately, the taxicab driver seeks to emulate the professional with eight or ten years' experience, with the result that accidents have increased in a way that is becoming alarming to the public, and this fact has convinced the authorities of the need for more rigorous regulations.

A common practice with Paris drivers is to drive home, through such districts as Levallois-Perret, at speeds which, though they may offer no danger to the public, are certainly disastrous for the vehicles. All the taxicab garages are in the immediate suburbs of the city, many of them on the site of old horse stables; in every case, exceptionally_ rough paved roads have to be traversed to reach the detaits, and it is here that the damage is done. Instead of being content to travel carefully over these rough cobble stones, the driver with a two months' old license will rush through at the same rate as down tl-e smooth Avenue des Champs Elysees at midnight. He will frequently pick up his wife or a group of friends, on returning home, and give them a demonstration that doubtless charms them, but which would cause a shareholder of the company or any practical man to rage. The chiefs of the companies naturally have every interest in weeding out the dangerously-incompetent driver, but the matter also interests the authorities. and steps are to be considered by them for eradicating the evil. Governors giving audible warning when a certain speed is exceeded are not likely to be adopted. The Paris Chief of Police is not opposed to speed, providing conditions are suitable; further, these mechanical contrivances can be " faked," and are liable to get out of order. The suspension or permanent withdrawal of driving license is the proposed remedy. in order that there should be no hardship, which might result from the unjust withdrawal of a license and consequent loss of employment, the proposal is made to appoint a joint committee composed of members of the Automobile Club of France and one or two taxicab drivers to report on each case of reckless or dangerous driving brought before the authorities. Such a board, while necessarily severe in all cases of really criminal driving, would be sufficient guarantee against the loss of means of livelihood for a slight or technical offence.

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