Defects in Acts and Regulations.—Ill.
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By a User of Heavy Vehicles.
Article VI deals with the construction and dimensions required for steel tires, or tires which are not made of a soft or resilient material. The:tires must be smooth and flat, and of a width of half-an-indn for every unit of axle-weight. The unit of axle-weight for a wheel 3 ft. in diameter is 7 cwt. The uni.wis increased by one hundredweight. for every 12,:ins. that the diameter of the wheel is increased, or diminished one hundredweight for every 6 ins, that the wheel is diminished below 3 ft. in diameter. There is also a formula to decide the size and position of stropes on steel-tired wheels' this specifies that the greatest width between the stropes must not exceed oneeighth of the tire-width, measured across the tires and parallel to the axle.
Relation Between Tire-widths and Road. camber.
The minuteness of the above proportions are somewhat amusing, in view of the fact that the roads upon which such wheels run make no pretence to uniformity. It is, therefore, little to be wondered at that road surveyors are asking for greaterh,tirewidths, or increased wheel-diameters. Heavy motorcars are running on the edges of their tires far more than the fiats of the tires, owing to the want of uniformity in road-camber : the remedy lies with a better construction of roads. On sett-paved roads, such as are common in the counties of Lancashire and York-shire, the tires only make a point-to-point contact with the road surface, owing to the uneven surface. of the setts ; consequently, no advantage would be gained by increasing the width of the tire. It is, however, important that road surveyors should no longer neglect the question of constructing their roads uniformly as regards camber, as a great many road accidents and breakdowns are undoubtedly caused by the undue strain which is thrown upon the axles of machines running with wide tires. over roads of exceptional camber.
The Article which the Police Like.
Article VII determines the speed at which a heavy motorcar may be driven. under varying conditions of load and tires fitted, and whether running singly, or !drawing a trailer. This article is a most-important one from the user's standpoint. It is one of the most difficult to comply with, and it is practically impossible to defend any charge which may be brought under it. It is an article to which the police pay a great deal of attention, possibly because of the degree of safety it affords them. The article is somewhat complicated, but in effect it says :—That a heavy motorcar may only travel at five miles per hour when (a) the axle-weight exceeds six tons, or (b) if the heavy motorcar draws a trailer ; the maximum speed of a heavy motorcar is increased to eight miles an hour (a) where the maximum axle-weight of any axle does not exceed six tons, or (b) where a heavy motorcar of a maximum axle-weight above six tons is fitted with tires of a soft or resilient material ; the maximum speed of a heavy motorcar is further increased to 12 miles per hour where the maximum axle-weight of any axle does not exceed six tons, and the machine is fitted with tires of a soft or resilient material.
Handicaps When Unladen.
It, is little to be wondered at that the drivers of heavy motorcars, who have to handle macitines under all of the above conditions in turn, become perplexed as to what the legal maximum speed may be at any moment. Presuming that these various maximum speeds were originally arrived at by scientific formulm, it is surely a curious omission that no B40
latitude was permitted to an unloaded vehicle when running above the maximum speed allowed to it when carrying a full load. It is clearly a waste of time for all light vehicles,to have to adhere to such minimum speeds. This article, moreover, is applied with ridiculous rigidity in many parts of the country, and very little regard is paid to surrounding circumstances, It is patent. to every motor driver of even pleasure cars, that the speed at which a motor can travel along a. road with ease and safety varies enormously according to the surface of the road. An expert driver takes rough portions of the. road at greatly-reduced speeds, and uses his speed only on the smoother portions. of the road surface. In the case of heavier types of motorcars, this regard for surrounding circumstances becomes even more necessary. The Act, however, is not applied in such a spirit. Traps are frequently set on roads where the drivers are calculated to take advantage of their surroundings, and often in the busy thoroughfares of our big eities.heavy motorcars are hustled along by the police at a speed which would bring dire punishment on the drivers heads in the open country or suburbs of the same towns. Experience has shown that five miles per hour is too slow a speed for the heaviest type of motorcar, except on bumpy roads, and with the improvement in the design of the heavy motorcar that has taken place since this Act was made the speed limits should be materially raised all round.
• Higher Maximum Speeds Must be Legal zed.
The following speeds for heavy motorcars and trailers, when -fitted all round with rubber tires, would not be in any way excessive or cause undue damage to the roads :— Maximum axle-weight eight tons, maximum speed eight miles per hour. Maximum axle-weight six tons, maximum speed eight'miles per hour.
When the vehicle did not draw a. trailer, the following increased speeds might be permitted :— Maximum axle-weight eight tons, 12 miles per hour.
Maximum axle-weight six tons, 15 miles per hour. In the case of steel tires, the maximum speed should be limited to miles per hour.
As the general eonstruetion of roads improves, and the road surfaces improve in consequence, it will be futile to ask motor-wagon drivers to adhere fo a fivemile-per-hour limit ; moreover, it would be a useless restriction on trade.
The Public Will Have Despatch.
Since the regulations were laid down in 1904, the general speed of the traffic on the roads has increased, in sympathy with the .spirit of the times, and theigeneral sense of the public. The pleasure car which with difficulty and much noise, attained a legal speed of 20 miles an hour in 1903 to-day glides noiselessly along at 30 miles per hour, and attracts very much less attention in doing so than its predecessors of 1903 did at half that speed. The heavy motorcar cannot reasonably be expected to do otherwise than participate in the general increase of speed in road traffic, and it is quite probable that heavy motorcars, fitted with rubber tires, and drawing behind them trailers similarly shod, may in a few years be licensed to run at 15 miles per hour. Road surveyors may to-day regard the suggestions with apprehension, but it would be doing. something less than justice to their known abilities to regard it as impossible for them to design roads to carry such traffic.