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Come On, Lord Leathers

19th December 1941
Page 17
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Page 17, 19th December 1941 — Come On, Lord Leathers
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

AS Minister of War Transport Lord Leathers has given quite a favourable impression to those members of the industry and of the Press concerned with it who have come into contact with him. He has shown himself to be essentially a business man with a quick grasp of the major points in any particular problem with which he is concerned.

With this in mind, we ask him to get down to business. The Ministry is expending a certain amount of money in advertising the fact that road transport, as at present organized, requires the services of an additional 100,000 vehicles. Naturally, such a huge number, which is, roughly, two years' supply in immediate pre-war times, t impossible to produce in physical form. It is hoped, however, that the equivalent of at least a large proportion will be found by expediting the overall speed of the vehicles at present in use, but —and this is a matter of some considerable importance—the leading factor is presumed to lie in the reduction of time wastage at the terminals and at points where loading or unloading takes place en route.

In our view, whilst quicker turnround will certainly help to a large extent, it is not the only method which could be put into operation immediately to assist in obtaining the desired end.

Present Limit Retards Traffic Flow Some weeks ago, at a Press conference, the Minister promised that he would look into the possibility of increasing the speed limit of the heavier classes of vehicle from the 20 m.p.h., to which most in this category are restricted, to the 30 m.p.h., which is permitted to those vehicles weighing 3 tons or under and the motor horsebox—the latter, presumably, because of the racing interests involved.

Now, we would like to ask Lord Leathers what he has done to redeem his promise. We know full well the many arguments against it, Phostly futile, which can and are likely to be put forward by the representatives of certain bodies which appear to spend much of their valuable time in arguing on subjects of which they know little. Perhaps this is for the reason that they have to justify their existence, but surely even they can withhold their accusations and condemnations in the face of the national interest. It may be suggested by some people that many vehicles in the heavier class are already travelling at speeds in excess •of 20 m.p.h., but it must be remembered that they do so at their peril—not peril in the sense of any particular increased danger in operation, but in respect of the law.

We have always contended that the general flow of traffic can be expedited. and, in particular, where there are points of congestion, by making , all vehicles travel at the same speed. There is no worse obstructor of traffic than the horsed vehicle. Why is this the case? It is because of its slow speed, which prevents it from taking advantage of opportunities of forging ahead, and either forces all faster traffic to. trail in its wake or necessitates individual vehicles passing it where the chance occurs.

Time-tonnage Factor of Vital Importance The same may be said of those heavier vehicles which are, compelled to travel at anything lower than 30 m.p.h., perhaps not quite to the same degree, yet to an extent sufficient to reduce the overall speed of traffic to a figure which is bound to have a serious effect upon general efficiency, and decrease the time-tonnage capacity of the vehicles concerned by a considerable amount.

It has been suggested that public opinion would, in view of the figures for road accidents, be opposed to any such relaxation, but we are at war, and delays in the carriage of materials and equipment vital to our war effort are surely of vastly greater importance than any hypothetical views as to road fatalities ; in fact they may mean the loss of battles and numbers of our men vastly greater than any possible figures for such accidents.

We use the term hypothetical for the reason that we believe that there would be actually little or no increase in this respect. However, we realize that the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Therefore, we suggest to Lord Leathers that he should use his undoubted great influence with the Government to persuade it, at least, to give a trial to such an• increase of speed as we have mentioned, say, a probationary or experimental period of six months. Accident figures for this time could then be compared with those which were obtained formerly during a corresponding period of the war, and we should be surprised if any significant increase was found to have resulted.

It must not be forgotten that during the hours of the blackout all classes of vehicle are restricted to a speed of 20 m.p.h. in built-up areas, and outside such areas there is comparatively little danger when travelling at 30 m.p.h. either by day or by night.

• The bulk and weight of the heavier classes of vehicle have been put forward as grounds for restricting their speed, mainly from the point of view of their presumed inability to stop within a reasonable distance. Actually, there is very little in this argument, particularly with the more up-to-date designs. The modern "heavy" has brakes designed to compensate for the differences which exist between it and the private car, its road-holding capabilities are excellent, and as braking depends to a very large extent upon the coefficient of friction between the tyre and the road surface, and the grip is, roughly, proportional to the load, there is not nearly so much discrepancy between the braking power of the private car and that of the heavy commercial vehicle as is considered by many who have not studied the • technicalities of speed. In fact, the average private car receives so little attention—and that often at long intervals—that the brakes on the commercial vehicle are usually in a far better condition in respect of repairs and adjustment.


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