Legal Speeds when a Trailer is Drawn.
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The Heavy Motor Car Order is so framed and phrased, that it is illegal for a commercial motor which is drawing a trailer to travel at a speed in excess of five miles an hour. The arrangement and wording of Article 7 of the Order are by no means so clear as might be wished by those owners who are interested in trailer haulage, and particularly by a growing section of Owners whose interests are such that they are now looking with increasing favour upon the extension of rubber-tiring to the drawn vehicle. Hopes and beliefs to the contrary notwithstanding, we are clearly of opinion—and in this opinion we are supported by the best legal advisers—that, even though the wheels of a trailer be tired with rubber, the speed of any motorcar drawing it is still limited to the above-mentioned rate of travel.
The governing article in the Order fixes the speed for heavy motorcars generally at eight miles an hour, but, in the case of a vehicle which exceeds certain weights mentioned therein, or which draws a trailer, the permissible speed is reduced to five miles an hour, whilst there is a further provision that, if a heavy motorcar have all its wheels fitted with resilient tires, these exemptions and extensions apply to the selfpropelled unit alone, having regard to certain declared or ascertained maxima in weight, and certain variations in the material used for the tires. There can be no doubt whatever that the speed can only be increased Sc) long as the vehicle does not draw a trailer.
This situation is one which cannot he maintained with advantage to anybody, and we hope that the Commercial Motor Users Association will take into consideration the matter of seeking to secure more latitude in the matter of speed when trailers are hauled—within reasonable and safe limits. Differentiation might well be introduced, as between passenger-carrying and goods-carrying units, and as between iron-tired and rubber-tired vehicles.
Restrictions Upon Routes to be Taken by Public-service Vehicles.
Repeated efforts have been made, by various borough councils and other Metropolitan interests, to interfere with the development of public-service transport along the natural lines of route which are indicated by the demands of those who use or desire to use the conveyances. The police, to whom applications of the kind are in the end referred, very properly decline to lay down arbitrary restrictions in this regard. It is recognized that proprietors do not send vehicles along roads which have not already given evidence of the ex istence of a general need for the service in view or under criticism, and it is also recognized that, the requests for restriction arc generally put forward from selfish motives of one kind or another.
We were not a little surprised, a short time ago, to observe that a recommendation was made, to the council of the Institution of Municipal and County Engineers, anent a proposed imposition of restrictions upon public-service vehicles outside the Metropolitan area. The particular recommendation to which our attention was drawn came from the Lower Thames Valley District Surveyors Association, and it asked that powers should be given "to enable local authorities to define routes (other than county main roads) to be taken by any service of motor-omnibuses or other motor vehicles licensed for hire, or for the carriage of goods into or through their respective districts." We arc forced to the conclusion that this recommendation was the outcome of a, desire to foster a spirit of laisser .faire in regard to improved road construction, with a possible ulterior motive to defer the day when tar-bound or asphaltic-bound roads should be laid in place of some hundreds of miles of water-bound macadam in the areas concerned.
We are delighted to know that the council of the Institution of Municipal and County Engineers, which loody is happily taking up a firm and reasonable attitude in regard to motor-traffic requirements, refused to adopt the re-actionary recommendation which we have quoted above, It was held to be of a character which could not fail to cause it to be unreasonably applied in practice. It is regrettable that any authorities should be found, either in Greater London or outside of it, whose officers and members are so far behind in matters of improved road construction, or are so little inclined to move with the times, that they must have recourse to subterfuges which are obviously designed to put an artificial barrier round a huge area in which many of the highways are now inferier to traffic needs. We trace the hand of the local councillor, whose parochial views are the bane of BO many progressive surveyors, and we commend to our readers the effective way in which the Association has endeavoured to strengthen the case for improvement to suit modern traffic. This country must fare badly in competition, if traffic be limited by weak roads. Such roads must go—gradually, we know.
The Overloading Evil Again.
There is probably no branch of commercial motoring in which the evil of overloading has not in the past been a recurring cause of disappointments and disputes. Too many purchasers fail adequately to specify their requirements, and fairly to state the total imposed load which is to be placed upon the frame and the carrying mechanism. They talk, with every assurance of anparent exactitude, about the half-ton or the ton of load which they desire to carry, and they promptly order a body to carry that load which adds 25 per cent.—or more—to the figure which they have communicated to the vendor, to say nothing about the likelihood of the occasional or even frequent conveyance of two or more human beings as well. Thus, to the detriment of individual makers, has the general reputation of commercial motoring suffered.
The sections of use which are met by the employment of steam wagons and the heavier petrol wagons may be stated, generally, to have surmounted the undeserved opprobrium which at one time threatened to extinguish their claims, and did for varying periods cause the industry to mark time. Owners are less inclined to lay everything at the door of the maker, nowadays, and they recognize that it is safer to order a machine with a distinct margin of carrying capacity, in anticipation of the ordinary trading risk of overloading, than to cut things too fine at the outset in order to save £20 or £50 on the first cost. Carrying interests learnt this lesson first, for in those trades consignors frequently disregard the protests of the driver when extra parcels and packages are about to be suddenly dropped on to the platform of a vehicle, and their experiences have borne fruit all round. Structural provision must be made, in the carrying trade, for the effects of the extra and unnotified load. There is a greater tendency, and quite rightly so, to spend a little more on the machine in the first instance, in order to be sure that the maintenance account will not be materially increased when the inevitable extra overload, whether it be imposed by accident or design, is given. Practically every trader, we may point out, will at some time in the course of the year be forced or tempted to overload his machine, by reason of exceptional trade, or passing emergency.
The above comments upon the evils of overloading, and the wisdom of prescience in the matter, have been prompted by instances of ridiculous overloading in cases which are of new origin. There has been a great movement, during the past few months, and one which is likely to develop apace, in respect of de livery vans for loads in the neighbourhood of 15 cwt. We do not wish to pursue a course of invidious comparison, but we do wish to warn certain newcomers, both makers and owners, that they are merely buying trouble if they think that a "glorified cab chassis" will carry a heavy box-van body, a driver and mate, and a round ton of goods. We endorse the conclusions of parties who have communicated certain examples to us, and who, in spite of their untrained eyes and their lack of knowledge of mechanical detail, feel that the load and the under-carriage are not in proportion. Nothing is more important, at the present moment, in this newly-booming van trade for loads of one ton and less, than that the old evil of the resurrected pleasure-car design should be scrupulously barred. There are many excellent one-ton vans upon the market, from the works of makers of repute, concerning which details of construction and performance have appeared in our columns, and we hope that those
which have made or are destined to make their mark will be intelligently preferred by intending buyers who are at the moment in some danger of being lured towards light and unsuitable machines which are wrongly stated to be capable of carrying total loads with which their would-be owners must be concerned in service when they become possessors of the machines. Commercial motors must be built for their jobs, and not adapted by, say, a change of wheels.
It is with extreme gratification that we learn of the decision of the Postmaster-General to establish no fewer than 307 cab-rank telephones in cab offices and shelters within the Metropolitan police district. This decision is a distinct triumph for the Commercial Motor Users Association, which body, in November, 1910, on a suggestion from the writer, bore the expense of putting up the first cab-rank telephone set, in the main Kensington highway, close to Olympia. Following the question which was put in the House of Commons by Captain Murray, on the 14th ult., in regard to the cab-whistle nuisance, and in respect of which we made a suggestion a fortnight ago (page 52 ante), Captain Murray, on the 26th ult., pursued the course which we then outlined, and in respect of which he had received a detailed communication from the secretary of the C.M.U.A. His additional question brought about the announcement, by Mr. Herbert Samuel, to which we have referred above. In this connection, it should also be mentioned that Mr. H. Lyon Thomson, acting on behalf of the C.M.U. A., has for the past few months been in touch with the Postmaster-General, in the expectation of securing such official recognition and adoption.
Conditions Which Affect
the Overtaking a One
Motor Vehicle by Another.
An interesting case was settled in the Sheriff's Court, at Forfar, one day last week, when an action was brought by Industrial Motors, Ltd., of Dundee, against the owner of a private motorcar. Judgment was entered for the plaintiff for £116 16s., the Court holding that the accident was due to the negligence of the driver of the overtaking motorcar.
We are concerned to give, for the guidance and information of owners and drivers, the views to which the Sheriff gave expression before entering judgment, and we preface those remarks by ourselves pointing out that it apparently was common ground that the driver of the overtaken vehicle had heard the warning signal from the driver of the following vehicle, and had drawn towards the near side of the highway. Of course, had it been otherwise, the case against the defendant would have been still more complete, seeing that his righT to overtake would not have been made good in advance of the mishap.
Sheriff Lee held that there was a strong presumption of fault on the part of the defender in the mere fact that, the car being the overtaking vehicle, its driver was bound to time and conduct the operation so as to avoid contact with the other vehicle (the lorry). He proceeds, in a note, thus: "The evidence as to how much room was given by the lorry was contradictory, but, in his opinion, two facts were quite clearly proved : (1) that there was an honest attempt and intention on the part of the driver of the lorry to give room ; and (2) that from the time the car began the process of passing till the time it actually got past any deviation in the course of the lorry was in the direction of giving more rather than less room. The collision must have been due pith.* to the defender's driver having misjudged the sufficiency of room available for passage or to his want of skill or care in utilizing the room. He had no hesitation in adopting the second alternative, to which everything pointed, as the explanation."