OPINIONS and QUERIES
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A New Idea in Traffic Control. Powerful Railway Influences in the Government. New Tax ation on Steamers Work for a Clearing House at Unsatisfactory Rates. A Misapprehension About Taxa tion on Decides
An Interesting signal-light suggestion.
The Editor THE COMMERCIAL MOTOR.
 Sir,—I understand that the ruling of the Home Secretary concerning automatic traffic signals is as follows:—" That the duty of an approaching driver is to stop short at the signal, when the amber light appears, unless his stopping should be so sudden as to endanger his own vehicle or the traffic behind him."
As a driver of 30 years' experience, in my opinion this ruling and the prevailing conditions leave matters in a far from satisfactory position. Every time I approach a green traffic light I am in a state of suspense as to how long it has been showing and when it will change. I have been stopped by the police,
owing to the car In which I was being driven passing the traffic signals just as the green light faded out and the amber showed. It is a matter of pure guesswork, when approaching a green signal, as to when it will fadeout, and creates difficulties for drivers.
My business premises are situated on the corner of cross-roads where traffic signals are installed, and recently a private car pulled up when the amber light suddenly showed, and a bus ran into the back of it, doing considerable damage. How could the car driver have kept his eyes on the traffic signals, and, at the same time, looked in his mirror to see what was behind him? This is what I understand the Home Secretary wishes drivers to do.
In the accompanying sketch, the amber signal is advanced towards approaching traffic to a predetermined distance, so as to act as a pre-warning device. The space between the pre-warning amber light and the main traffic signal is sufficient for a driver to pull up, when taking into consideration the average speed of the traffic along the road in question. For instance,
B44 on a main arterial road, where the traffic is fast, the distance between the pre-warning amber light and the main traffic signal would be greater than on a more congested road, where the traffic is slow. All drivers, on seeing the pre-warning amber light in operation, would have to pull up at the main signal. Drivers who had passed the pre-warning light, when not illuminated, would continue across the road.
By using the pre-warning amber light, it would be necessary to have only a red stop light for the main signal, as when the red stop light faded out the traffic would naturally proceed. Alternatively, the red and green signals could be used as at present. No doubt many of your readers have had experiences similar to mine, and I should like to hear their opinions on the suggestion of utilizing this pre-warning device to overcome some of the present difficulties with the
existing traffic signals. W. It. WOOD. London, S.E.17.
Some Points on the Road v. Rail Problem.
The Editor, THE COMMERCIAL MOTOR.
14118] Sir,—On the question of road v. rail, which is creating such widespread general public ' interest and serious Governmental attention, does not the fact forcibly strike all road interests that in our present Government we have the railway interests very strongly represented?
Human nature being what it is, one is led to imagine that those to whom the power to " inflict " legalization is given by the general public must be torn, willingly or unwillingly, between two very important factors, to wit—public or personal interest.
Frankly I suggest that, such being the case, the question of road v. rail should be a matter to be decided only by public favour and desire, and it should be governed automatically by the natural law a supply and demand.
A question of major importance is at once instantly involved, that of unemployment, and I cannot bring myself to believe that this, or any, Government, with unemployment in its present ghastly state and hold, in this country, can possibly ignore the fact that road transport can absorb something like eight men to every two whom the railways would employ to handle the same given tonnage. I suggest to all road interests that as the road offers such an enormous alleviation of unemployment, this fact should be made the main plank in the fight, and it is certain that the public generally is completely unaware of such important facts as these, and if it he put forward with the many other claims will surely do much to win sympathy and support.
Another striking feature is the seeming lack of interest, action or assistance for the road side on the part of the enormous interests associated with the development of the highways and, in many cases, dependent on the further development and continuation of increased road use.
The railwg.ys' claims are based principally "on the vast capital involved and sunk in their systems," which is admitted, but, on the other hand, collectively, an equally huge capital or even greater is quite certainly invested directly or indirectly in the organizations attendant to the construction or use of the roadways, and are we to have no equally strong case put forward for the enormous interests concerned in this direction?
Sight must not be lost of the true position, which is hidden by the railways, that in the fight for supremacy between roadways and railways we have, in fact, a battle between two great companies, one much more closely combined and controlled than the other.
Why, with the numerous and varied problems, in many cases much overdue, confronting our Government, does it devote time, money and unnecessary attention to a great but purely private economic struggle between, on the one side, the railways and, on the other, the roadways and associated companies?
The railways, roadways, Government or the public cannot by artificial means of legislation and restriction alter the eventual course of modern progress, and the question of transport indicates that as surely as roadways replace railways so science and invention are giving us safety, convenience and a host of competitive advantages in the airways to replace both road and rail, and it is futile for the railways, now at a ripe old age, to ask for a second youth. I put into words the thought that the question of airways v. road and rail may be, in time, even a greater problem, as it can surely be anticipated that the Government in power then would be fairly representative of vested interests in favour of the unfairly competed against, and airways would be a David battling with two Goliaths, the appeal and intention of which would be the increased taxation for all users of the free air, with legislation, restriction and control of airways in the interests of public safety and avoidance of duplication of transport services and facilities with its attendant waste.
I conclude with the query, Waste of what? London, S.E.12. SCYTHE.
Carrying Various Loads-the Effect of Heavier Taxation.
The Editor, Tali COMMERCIAL MOTOR.
 Sir,-As a regular reader of The Commercial Motor I am always interested in your methods of costing. I have recently purchased a second-hand sixwheeled solid-tyred Garrett steam wagon, fitted with a three-way hydraulic-tipping 10-15-ton body, and I would like to know what rates you consider I should obtain for certain work.
First, for carting tarmacadam and dry slag from a station to council roads, at varying distances im to seven miles, also for sugar-beet carting to distances varying from 15 miles to 45 miles.
As the taxation on this vehicle rises from £60 to £200 on January 1, what do you consider should be charged on sugar-beet haulage for the coining season, which probably would not finish until the end of February?
[I cannot give you a precise answer to your inquiry, because you do not know how long you will take to load and to unload your vehicle. You should base your calculations of charges on 7s. per hour plus 9d. per mile run. If, for example, for a one-mile lead you take altogether l hour for loading, travelling, unloading and returning to the station, your charge should be 14. times 7s., equals 10s. 6d., plus 1s. 6d. for the two miles ; total, 12s. which is about is. 3d. per yard if you carry a 10-yard load. For the seven mile lead, on the same basis, you will probably need 2i hours. This charge would then be 17s. 6d. for time, plus 10s. 6d. for mileage; total, 28s., which is 2s. 10d. per yard. If the foregoing figures are correct, that means you should charge is. 3d. per yard for the first mile and 3d. per yard extra for each succeeding mile. As regards the beet you should calculate your charges in the same way. Here, however, the time per load is subject to wide varia tions on account of delays at the factory, and I should like to know a little more about what your experiences of such delays are before I work the figures out for you. Please write to me again and let me know how long you have to wait as a rule. The efEect of the increased taxation is best computed on an hourly basis. The increase is £140, which is equivalent to about is. 3d. per hour, thus altering your basis of calculation from 7s. per hour to 8s. 3d. per hour.-S.T.R.1 Unsatisfactory Clearing-house Prices.
The Editor, THE COMMERCIAL MOTOR.
 Sir,-I am a small haulier with a 2-ton and a 4-ton wagon. I have recently had the 2-ton lorry on scrap work, and here is the table that I have worked out :-Eight hours a day at 4s. per hour equals £1 12s., giving a weekly total of 19 12s. The average mileage per day is 20 for six days per week, the rate of petrol consumption is 10 m.p.g. and the oil consumption 4, gallon, so there is a running cost of 16s. 8d. for 120 miles, leaving £6 15s. 4d. after deducting £2 for driver's wages.
The 4-ton lorry I have had working for a clearing house and I am sadly out of pocket.
This clearing house has let me get the loads on and then sent me the price, viz., 70 cwt. to Bristol at 18s. per ton, making £3 3s. for a return journey of 320 miles, taking 32 gallons of petrol, priced at £2. If I have not been able to pick up a load I have to come back light and have a matter of 23s. left for wages and wear and tear. Another job to Birmingham was 4 tong at 12s., equals £2 8s. for a mileage of 156; petrol conSumed 151 gallons, costing 19s. 6d., leaving 28s 6d. for wages and wear and tear. I have had to give this sort of work the go-by, as no haulier in my position can do it.
I noticed a statement in the June 9, 1933, issue of The Commercial Motor that the drapery and shoe business seems to be wanting hauliers. Is it possible for you to put any work in my way, or tell me where it is best to obtain same? I am a regular reader and would be much obliged for anything you can put in my way, if it is in your power to do so. Please send me your Tables of Operating Costs. WORRIED. Oldham.
[The work you are doing with your 2-ton lorry appears to
be reasonably profitable. I take it that you are not assuming that the whole of the £6 15s. 4d. per week mentioned in your letter is profit, because, of course, it is not. It requires to be reduced by allowances for expenditure on tyres, maintenance, depreciation, licences, insurance, garage rent, and contingent expenses which are referred to in the accompanying Tables of Operating Costs as establishment charges. On the other hand, the figures you quote in relation to the operation of your 4-ton lorry are simply outrageous. The activity in the drapery, clothing and shoe-making business is general throughout the country just now. I cannot give you a specific address to which to apply, but suggest that you yourself get into touch with manufacturers and wholesalers in the Manchester district.-.S.T.R.]
Accumulators Not Included in Unladen Weight of Electrics.
The Editor, THE COMMERCIAL MOTOR.
 Sir,-There appears to be a misunderstanding, in some quarters, concerning the taxation of electric vehicles. The accumulators are definitely not included in the unladen weight for taxation purposes.
London, W.C.1. W. R. PALSY,
For General Vehicle Co., Ltd.
[The law on this point is clear, and, in the terms of the Road Traffic Act, Part I, Section 26, " . . the weight unladen of any vehiele shall be taken to be the weight of the vehicle inclusive of the body and all parts .. . which are necessary to or ordinarily used with the vehicle when working on a road, but exclusive of the weight of water, fuel or accumulators used for the purpose of the supply of power for the propulsion of the vehicle. . . ." -En.]