CONSIDERING THE CC CC OF THE DRIVER.
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Why the Driver Should Be Studied. Various Fixed Windscreen. The Best Type: of C; of Weather Protection, The Danger of the ist-heated Radiators for Arctic Climates.
IN VIEW of the approach of the winter season, it is singularly appropriate that attention should be directed to a. crying need which has made itself apparent on certain vehicles. This is for the more adequate protection of the driver against inclement weather. In many commercial vehicles—
and lorries arc particularly bad offenders in this respect—the protection afforded is hardly worthy of the name. If there is a cab, it is often draughty or .so arranged that whilst the driver's feet are unduly hot through their proximity to the engine, the upper. parts of his body are exposed to the risk of chills. Some owners argue that it is better to have a cab completely open, with free circulation of the air, than to have it partially enclosed and draughty.
If the body be well designed, draughts may be almost...excluded, and the cab made almost as comfortable for the driver of a heavy lorry asl for .the driver of a private ear, and that this
is even more important in the former , ease will be admitted by all, for few drivers of 'private cars are in control of their vehicles for anything like the time during which the driver of the average lorry or light van has to remain at his steering wheel.
In our opinion, it is only by studying the driver that the full efficiency can be obtained from the vehicle under his control. A driver with his hands numbed by the cold cannot be ex pected to take a great interest in his work, and, quite apart from this, lie may even be an actual danger to the public and to other users of the road, for in an emergency he may not be a ble t o respond with the same rapidity as the man who is afforded sufficient protection to enable his blood to circulate freely. I n addition, w e must treat the matter from t h e
psychological a a pect. The driver who is not well eared for is hardly likely to give his best work in the service of the neglectful owner. He may not intentionally be a slacker, but it is a natural instinct to respond to the milk of human kindness.
Generally speaking, the light van can be considered as the vehicle in which the comfort of the driver is studied to the greatest extent, although why this should be the case is somewhat difficult to understand; whilst possibly the vehicle in which ' the least protection is afforded is the
overtype steam wagon. Of course, we cannot expect that the Iast-named type of vehicle should be provided with a windscreen, but .olten the driver or his mate is provided with a seat so arranged that the whole of one side of his body is exposed to the rain in wet weather' whilst his other aide is heated by the boiler and fire. Some electric vehicles are also very badly provided for in this matter, the protection often consisting of nothing more than a straight dash and a canopy.
There are various ways in which protection can be obtained. In our opinion, the best is to have .a cab provided with high side doors and with the sides of tile cab brought well forward and provided with windows. The front should be protected by a windscreen, preferably made to form an obtuse-angled " V," i.e., with a centre pillar with the glass reaching back at each side. In front of the driver the Windscreen should be in two portions, the upper being pivoted so'that it.can)pe raised or loi-eled as clesird. This is almost essential when proceeding thro gh driving rain or snow, in which case the uppeportion of the windscreen can be lifted slightly to e atle a clear vision through the space between the halves. The slight " " formed by carrying back the ends of the windscreen causes the air currents to be directed outside the cab, whereas a straight . windscreen causes the air to swirl round the edges and into the Cab itself.
This carrying of the air currents to the back of the cab can be assisted by inclining the top of the. screen slightly towards the ;ear and by the provision of side screens. Of course, in ta design of this description it is essential that there should be no opening between the canopy and the upper portion of the screen. The side of the cab above the -doors can he left open for the sake of adequate ventilation. This is particularly necessary when the vehicle is of the overtype, or where the cab is carried forward so that the driver is situated beside the engine, as is now being done in a number of well-known makes.
The attention paid to the matter depends 'greatly upon the districts in which the vehicles are operated. For instance, one cannot consider that the London bus driver is very well off in this respect; he does not even have a windscreen, although in the latest S type vehicles a rain deflector is fitted above his head, whilst a certain amount of protection is —afforded by the small scuttle dash, and in wet weather a waterproof apron is fitted and protects the driver fairly well, but there is, of course, no protection from draughts, except that afforded by the engine. In contradistinction to this, many of the buses usedAin Edinburgh have the driver's cab completely enclosed, but this is because in ,winter the climate in the Scottish capital is often extremely severe, whereas in London .we seldom have really severe weather. • Similarly, on the ordinary lorry considerable protection against wet, snow, "etc., can be afforded by a scuttle dash and a tarpaulin stretching from this over the wheel and
drawn tightly towards the upper part of the cab, but this gives practically no protection to the face, and only those who have driven for long periods against biting, wintry blasts realize how soon the face becomes chilled, and this chilling is apt to -set up the severest form of neuralgia known—i.e., of tht facial nerve. Pro tection to the face can only be given by an adequate and well-designed windscreen, although wind can be deflected to a certain extent by the• use of a high dashboard, over which can be fitted a sheet steel deflector running forwards and downwards at an angle of from 30 to 40 degrees.
We do not advocate the permanent windscreen ; or, perhaps, we ought to say the. built-in glazed front. This is apt to become practically obscured by heavy rain or snow, and is then positively dangerous ; all sorts of windscreen cleaning devices are employed on private cars for this reason, but the majority are of very little use, and those thatare satisfactory are
No doubt many of our readers will have noticed that where such cabs are employed the drivers have to lean out at the side so that they can peer ahead in order to obtain a sufficiently clear vision.
Where the cab is. completely enI117
closed it is most essential that the vehicle should be provided with an easily seen and easily operated warning signal, so that the drivers of following vehicles can he notified in ease of stoppage, -or. if the vehicle is about to turn ; but with the cab which we advocate, having the space above the doors left open, there is no great difficulty in leaning slightly forward in order that. the driver may signal with his arm.
A small point, but one which is of importance when the comfort of the driver has to be considered, is the type of handle fitted to the control levers. Metal handles quickly extract the warmth from the hands, whilst in hot climates they become unduly hot. Therefore, it should be the care of the chassis manufacturers to provide handles made of wood, vulcanite,_ or some other suitable material, particularly for the change-speed lever, which is the one most likely to be used frequently.
Some owners are apt in consider the arrangement of the cab purely from the point of view of its cost, but if certain stipulations regarding its construction are laid down when the vehicle is purchased, there would be little difficulty in arranging the cab in a suitable manner and without necessarily incurring a great increase in the total cost of the vehicle.
Where vehicles are intended to be operated in particularly cold climates, such as experienced in the North of Scotland and in pertain foreign countries, we see no reason why the comfort of the driver
should not be considered to the extent of having exhaust-heated radiators installed under the footboards. We remember particularly one type of vehicle, an Austin, which had a radiator in front of the dash ; to ride, in the cab of this vehicle in wintry weather was most comforting, but in summer the heat was certainly overbearing, whereas a radiator of the type suggested could be put out of action when not required.
While on the subject of closed cabs, we call to mind a small incident which occurred on a vehicle employed in transport for the Army. The driver of this vehicle, with the idea of increasing his comfort, had fitted tarpaulin side curtains to the cab, and
these were carefully laced into position. On one occasion, while filling the petrol. tank, which was under his seat, from a five-gallon drum, he placed an oil lamp by the side of the tank, with the result that the petrol took fire and a sheet of flame spread across one side of the cab, and the driver was prevented from escaping from the other side by the tarpaulin curtain, and was only rescued in the nick of time by the tarpaulin being cut away from the outside. Fortunately, most of our drivers have more sense than to take such foolish risks, but, in any case, it is advisable not to bbx up the driver in such a manner as to render ingress to or exit from his seat a matter of difficulty, -for even the best driver may occasionally stop his engine in traffic.