Lights on Motorvans.
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At a time when new investigators of the claims of motorvans are becoming readers of this journal in
an increasing ratio, one of the points to which we
desire to direct attention is the importance of the disposition of the off-side lamp upon any commercial
motor. The practice in the past has been allowed
to pass in most counties and county boroughs, but there is no question that both the letter of the law and the safety of the travelling public call for a more-exact observance of the regulation as set out in the Use and Construction Order. This reads :— " The lamp to be carried attached to the motorcar in pursuance of Section 2 of the Act of 1896 shall be so constructed and placed as to exhibit during the period between one hour after sunset and one hour before sunrise, a white light visible within a reasonable distance in the direction towards which the motorcar is proceeding, or is intended to proceed, and to exhibit a red light so visible in the reverse direction. The lamp shall be placed on the extreme right or off side of the motorcar, in such a posit:on as to be free from all obstruction to the light.
" Provided that where a lamp, which exhibits a red Ught in the direction contrary to that towards which the motorcar is proceeding, is carried attached at the back of the motorcar, the condition requiring the lamp attached in pursuance of Section 2 of the Act of 1896 to exhibit. a red light shall not apply or have effect with regard to the motorcar," It is the custom to have both the so-called side lamps placed a few inches or more within the extreme line of the body : they are frequently carried on brackets attached to the dashboard, and sometimes on brackets set in still farther towards the centre-line of the vehicle. The strict interpretation of the law is this : that the off-side lamp, or an extra lamp if necessary, should be carried in line with the extreme point of the body-work. It has been suggested that this light might be colloquially termed an " elbow " light.
We are glad to knowgiving manufacturers of motor vans are increasingly attention to the removal of this possible source of friction with the authorities and the police, but we think that the justification for that attention should be placed on higher grounds the protection of other users of the highway. Gross cases have come under our notice, in which the body-work of a vehicle projected no less than two feet beyond the off-side light, and the wonder is that more drivers do not. drive head on into the undiesclosed and unilluminated portions of such vehicles, when meeting them, Having regard to the warnings
which have been given, both by reason of summonses already taken out and of publicity for the circumstances. in the Press, any owner who may in the future be summoned, or who may be the defendant in a civil action, will stand in a bad position, on the merits of the case, if the off-side lamp of any of his vehicles be not carried in such a manner that it can properly be held to comply strictly with the abovequoted legal requirement. It will probably be sufficient., for those owners who do not wish to spoil the symmetrical appearance of their vehicles, if a small bicycle lamp be mounted on an extra bracket in line with the extreme point of the body-work.
The writer, when conducing heavy motor transport in Lancashire, in common with other users, had very bitter exneriences, in respect of increased maintenance and repair charges, due to the bad effects upon motor wagons for which projecting tramrails are so frequently responsible. Under the Tramway Act of 1870, so far as general powers are concerned, and under each particular Tramway Act that has been Passed since then, the proprietors and undertakers of a tramway service are called upon to maintain the highway between the tracks, and extending to an imaginary line is in. beyond each outside rail, in a
state of adequate repair. The enforcement of this statutory requirement is sisually vested in a county or a borough council, but there are many variations in degree of that enforcement. Numerous influences very often tend to the continuance of a state of a,pathetic, indifference, and it is the ordinary user of the highway—the man who owns vehicles of common types, as opposed to vehicles with flanged rails—who suffers from the neglect of repairs to the highway adjoining projecting rails. There are some very had cases in and around London, and by no means the least serious of these are to be found in the area of the Hammersmith Borough Council.
It is a pity that no association makes an inventory of the cases of broken axles and wrenched-off wheels. In the neighbourhood of Rosebery Avenue and Theobald's Road, which come under the daily observation of members of the staff of this journal, it is no uncommon occurrence for one to see two or three carts broken down by the side of the road, owing to the excessive and sudden stresses to which the under-carriages have been subjected when drawn across the rails. The Roads Improvement Association, just now, is engaged in a campaign against unnecessary congestion and bad regulation of tramear traffic: we commend to it, for its early attention, the matter of a census of material damage to the property of haulage contractors and other trading concerns by projecting tramrails. The matter is undoubtedly one which calls for concerted action on the part of the interests which have so far quietly and tamely borne the consequences themselves, In the Lancashire cases to which reference is made at the opening of this article, the county
council, on protest lodged, promptly ordered the offending tramway company to re-lay many miles: of its track.
The legal situation in regard to payment of civil damages is undoubtedly one of fact in each particular case, but we think the easier course, for the general benefit of the public, would be more-careful atientiou on the part of some of our organizations to the lodging of formal protests with the borough and county councils in whose areas tramrails, along part of their lengths, are allowed to become both a danger and a nuisance. The matter is one of s. d. for everybody, but it is a real hardship that individual owners should be subjected to losses of the kind, which arise daily, and that the tramway undertakers should, in spite of their demonstrable negligence, be allowed to go free.
Statistics of Fatal Accidents.
It is a common saying, that statistics can be used to prove anything. The results of figure jugglery are sometimes more amazing than those of sleight of hand, and there is an approach to parallelism in the two classes of deception, although one cannot fairly accuse the statistician of desiring to convey at all times one side of the case only.
As part of the L.C.C. campaign to stave off the— for it—evil day when public support for the motorbus will render the tramcar position more and more difficult of justification, we observe that various steps are being taken to endeavour to create the impression that the motorbus is very much more dangerous in traffic than is the tramcar. Ingeniously-worded queries, couched in terms which are designed to produce a reply unfavourable to the motorbus, have been put in the House of Commons, and publicity has thereafter been given, in other quarters, to the replies, or to parts of them. Apparently, during the past five years, in the Metropolitan area, 305 persons were killed by motorbuses, as against 127 by mechanically-propelled tramcars, and only nine by horse tramcars. Again, 6157 were injured by motorbuses, as against 11,913 by mechanically-propelled tramcars, and 583 by horse-drawn tramcars. Next comes the subtlety : in the year 1910, omnibuses are estimated to have carried 377 millions of persons, and tramcars approximately 764 millions.
What has been omitted? That we are interested to state.
No direct comparisons are possible, as might be thought on immature consideration, between the above-mentioned fatal-accident totals, or between the totals of passengers carried. In the first place, the electric tramcars do not run so great mileages in a day, and they are very properly prohibited from access to the majority of thoroughfares in the central zones of traffic in the Metropolis. These two facts, of themselves, tend to put a very different complexion upon the case, but we would additionally point out that many fatal accidents which are laid at the door of the motorbus are in effect due to the inevitable element of danger which pertains to any tramcar service. We refer to the necessity of picking up and putting down passengers in the centre of the highway.
If the public desire to see. the motorbus accidents diminished, or rather those of them which arc alleged to be due to the motorbus, they will be well advised only to patronize vehicles which can pick them up and set them down at the side of the kerb, and from this time forward more strenuously to oppose the tramcar leviathans which are so harmful and prejudicial to the general interests of ordinary users of the highway, and of the commercial community in particular. They will not invite death, by walking out to the tramcars, when there is a choice of conveyance. In conclusion, we would particularly emphasize the undoubted fact that the motorbus, in areas where traffic is congested, but where there are no tramcars to tarn the problem into one which is almost incapable of solution, has a better record than in those thoroughfares where tramcars are running. We give the crowded city of London as a concrete instance,. and we are appalled by the mere conception of the likely totals to which deaths might be expected to mount were tramcars ever to be admitted into that central area of the chief city of the Empire. We believe that further analysis will show that the majority of accidents takes place in crowded thoroughfares where tramcar traffic is unfortunately still a factor. We hope to be able to go farther into the matter of such comparisons, as the crude figures which have been secured by the L.C.O. do not present the case in a fair manner. The passenger totals will be hugely varied, in favour of the motorbus, this year. Casualty experience proves that the accident statistics for any relatively-new form of transport show an unduly-high ratio at first. Hence, if the tramcars do not cause all precedents to be falsified, we shall see a material fall for 1911 and 1912 in the relative mishaps and fatalities.
Differential Insurance Rates.
Several correspondents have addressed us, during the course of the past few weeks, on the subject of differential insurance rates. They seem to think, and possibly not without good reason, that insurance companies ought not to adhere to hard-and-fast rates, universal in their application, without regard to the type and reputation of the machine or machines to
which the rates apply. Insurance companies are, possibly, more abused than motor manufacturers, and insurance rates depend practically upon average results. This answer, however, which we have already given in several communications, has not satisfied one of our querists. This gentleman writes as follows:— " We consider the matter to be one which affects all users of motor vehicles of high-class manufacture. In our opinion, it is only a matter of time when the respective insurance companies will be forced to differentiate in the rates, according to the general standing of the respective vehicles on the market. There is no doubt a very strong feeling amongst owners at the present time that the average system of rating for accidents to vans, third-party risk, etc., acts most unfairly in many cases."
We are quite agreeable to open our columns to "Opinions from others " in regard to this topic, and probably some of the principal insurance companies may be persuaded to give their views, or to express their intentions, if there be any likelihood of a modification in their existing attitude. We would point out that the task of discrimination must be a distinctlyinvidious one, and this difficulty is the first objection which we believe will be raised. In fact, it is open to doubt that any insurance company would in the long run benefit by the establishment of differential rates, whilst. it would certainly assume considerable responsibilities which could not fail to involve extra detail work for its staff. The onus of proof is upon those who contend for the change.
The Next Commercial Show.
We consider that there are many sound arguments in favour of the holding of the next commercial-motor show contemporaneously with the private-car show at Olympia, in November. It is, in our opinion, in every way inadvisable that. any show of the kind should be held at the Agricultural Hall. There are, within a, comparatively-short distance of Olympia, several excellent structures which are adequate to accommodate a representative show of commercial motors of all kinds. We may mention, for example. the machinery hall at the White City, the Holland Park skatingrink, or certain of the buildings at Earl's Court.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders is giving attention to this show problem, and the matter is becoming; one of increasing interest to the many new and intending owners who have realized, within the last year or two, and most of all within the last nine months, that motet' transport of some type must form part of their equipment and establishment. Many visitors to the private-car show at Olympia are big men in eommeree, and many of them are directly concerned with the manner in which produce, materials, manufactured goods, or commodities are transferred from one place to another. On the other hand, there are not a few who are primarily interested in commercial vehicles who have yet to be interested in private cars.
We are inclined, therefore, very strongly to support the view that the holding of a commercial-vehicle exhibition, in the neighbourhood of Olympia., concurrently with the next private-car show, is a very good plan indeed. Special arrangements might easily be completed to facilitate the conveyance of people from one show to the other, and we do not doubt that the London General Omnibus Co. would be prepared to provide a fleet of 50 or more vehicles for the purpose. The Society might complete arrangements, on one of several bases, in regard to joint admission and free conveyance. Those points are, of course, subsidiary to the main idea, although they have a direct.
bearing upon it. Our main contention is that the show should not be held so far away as Islington.
One of the features of modern street traffic which must have been forced upon the attention of any observant man during the past few months is the increasing use of poor horses. We are shedding no crocodile's tears. We are not out to sympathize with the disappearing horse or his disappointed owner. By poor horses we mean horses of no condition, horses whose appearance goes sadly against them. It is a fact, and it may be due to the present high cost of horses, that many owners of horsed-vehicles are nowadays.employing animals whose working days must be nearing a close. From the humanitarian point of view —and there is many a motor man who is fond of his horse—the spectacle of undersized and ill-conditioned animals tottering about the streets in front of creaking vans, which more often than not are badly overloaded, is a deplorable one. In certain parts of London, for instance, it is quite the exception to see, amongst the remaining horses that are in industrial service, examples which could fairly be classified as At This all has its economic lesson for the would-be motorvan user. Good horses at cheap rates cannot in many cases be nowadays employed. Whilst motorvan transport has become cheaper, horsed transport has unquestionably become dearer.
Publicity by Motorvan.
Amongst several reproductions of instructive photographs which are included in the present issue, none perhaps has a better lesson to tell than the one on this page ; it is of a car which is run solely for publicity purposes by that enterprising cigarette and tobacco manufacturer, Carreras Ltd.
We have on previous occasions, as our readers will remember, not neglected to draw the obvious lesson of the immense superiority of the motor-vehicle from the point of view of perambulating publicity. This aspect of the employment of horseless plant is one which is forcing itself insistently upon traders of all kinds. We have written of the motor hoarding in the past, but then have had to deal particularly with the display of suitable advertisement announcements upon the side panels, and even upon the roofs, of ordinary motorva,ns. Those who are familiar with the conditions of modern street traffic will be ready to bear witness to the increasing use that is made of the publicity possibilities of the conventional box-van in this respect. Several of the most enterprising advertisers of proprietary articles, however, have been quick to realize the value of the publicity which may be secured by a more or less complete and sensational display on a self-propelled machine ; they have devised suitable carrosserie and other properties for vehicles of which the sole use is to attract attention. No finer testimony to the advertising value of the motor-vehicle need be asked than the successful exploitation of such a startling turn-out as that, for instance, belonging to Carreras Ltd. Free from the necessity of the ordinary utilitarian duties of the motor delivery-van, and with a programme which merely requires the covering of a considerable mileage in well-populated districts, the driver—and his assistants, if there be any—of such a machine can bend their whole energies towards the attraction of the utmost attention. Compared with the ordinary display poster, placed in many instances at great expense in prominent positions, the tableau ear—if we may coin such an expression— has a very long pull indeed. We shall not be surprised if, in the near future, great developments take place in respect of such publicity methods. Not only will the ordinary delivery-van be increasingly employed, but there will be developments in connection with illuminated body signs. There will be a growing tendency to employ motor-vehicles far the RN-raring of maximum publicity in minimum time.