In Your Opinion
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Don't 'Dramatize' the Artie Problem
THERE WAS a good deal of correspondence in your July 22 issue following my comments on the British Safety Council's survey of jack-knifing of articulated vehicles. I hope this letter will serve as due acknowledgment of the three letters published.
I do not believe that attics do not jack-knife—some do. The tractor/trailer industry recognizes this problem and has done much work to overcome it. It is a damaging misrepresentation of the truth to suggest that the industry is trying to "sweep its dirt under the mat", as Mr. Tye alleged.
In my view the problem needs solving—not dramatizing. The people who can put things right are doing so. And it worries me that the British Safety Council's survey will only serve to colour the effect of the problem, rather than strike at the cause.
In John Dickson Simpson's article last week we saw clearly that jack-knifing occurs when some of the wheels of an attic lock, causing loss of adhesion. He also showed how the stability of an attic can be vastly improved by readjusting braking performance between axles—particularly by increasing front-axle braking. This is in line with the findings of Dr. Hales, of MIRA, and work done by Clayton Dewandre Ltd. The solution to the problem of jack-knifing clearly ties in the universal acceptance and application of this thinking by tractor/trailer manufacturers and vehicle operators.
On new vehicles, plating regulations enforce satisfactory overall braking performances and manufacturers are generally accepting the importance of correct braking distribution between axles to ensure greater safety. York is attempting to further extend the scope of these braking standards by offering three-line air brakes and plating on lightand medium-duty trailers now, even though they are not yet mandatory.
As a further aid to safety the adoption of load sensitive braking systems is to be encouraged because the incidence ofjack-knifing is greater among unladen vehicles.
But what of existing attics? The vast majority of tractor/trailer combinations on the road today have braking systems in which the distribution of braking efficiency between axles does not guard against jack-knifing. Many tractors are merely short-wheel-based tipper chassis and many trailers are automatic types designed for short-haul delivery work but used as trunking vehicles. I feel that operators should be encouraged to have such vehicles converted. This work need not be expensive if manufacturers offer a packaged deal conversion price. For example, York has a price list for trailer brake conversions which are carried out conveniently at regional factory branches.
Now with the brakes right, by all means let operators fit antijack-knife devices as well if they wish. Such devices certainly eliminate the dangers of the effects of jack-knifing. They do not, however, eliminate the cause. They can play a part, of course, in that they guard against jack-knifes caused by neglect, wear, weather, oil and all the other external factors to which Mr. R. B. Danniell draws attention.
York shares Mr. Danniell's feelings on the importance of training many more attic drivers to competently man the increasing numbers of attics on the roads. Precisely for this reason York set up its attic drivers' course. Drivers receive individual tuition for two days in theory, maintenance and driving technique. Thus there is no need for any driver to go on the road without proper tuition in handling big attics.
I am convinced that if the British Safety Council were to use its energies to encourage the universal adoption of the foregoing suggestions it would be doing a great service to the industry and to the cause of road safety. It could usefully carry out a survey of the incidence of jack-knifing among a sample of old attics and compare its findings with the performance of a relevant sample of "new" outfits. If such a survey were completely objective, without bias and scientifically carried out, it would be a valuable aid to encourage acceptance of big attics. This is of national importance in that the productivity of our road transport industry would increase as it took more advantage of the bigger loads permitted by the revised Construction and Use Regulations.
J. C. HARRISON, Sales Promotion Manager, York Trailer Co. Ltd.
Excellent Service from Leyland
I READ with some interest the article in your July 22 issue alleging poor service given by the Leyland Group.
Whilst our company deals only with Leyland's Midland depot, the service we receive is first class, and we find that in cases of shortage the service personnel will almost literally "move Heaven and earth" to get the vehicle on the road. Using specialized vehicles as we do, and not being able to hire replacements, this excellent service is of the utmost importance to us.
It would seem, therefore, from our experience that one does not have to operate 700 Leylancls to get good service.
M. R. TIMMINS, Managing Director, Dudley Mixed Concrete Co. Ltd.
AS A REGULAR reader of COMMERCIAL MOTOR I was surprised to note the omission of any reference to the price increases on commercial vehicles made by the Ford Motor Co. Ltd. on July I last. The increases vary from some £8 on the Transit series to £50 on the D series.
I understand that there have been similar increases to the Compiler range, and here again no mention has been made by COMMERCIAL MOTOR, nor indeed by the national Press. Surely these items would constitute a major item of news, more so in view of the Government's attitude of price maintenance.
S. BAKER, Romford, Essex.
Why Not Free-lance Checks?
AFTER READING "Dividends, Defects and GV9s" (July 15 issue) and also reports week after week of operators having licences suspended or revoked for bad maintenance, one cannot help but wonder why firms, both large and small, do not make more use of free-lance vehicle inspectors to make regular checks on the condition of vehicles, instead of relying on drivers and unskilled greasers to find and report defects.
I consider it unfair to place the responsibility of looking for faults on to the usually overworked fitting staff.
After all, a man changing a "dill" is unlikely to jack up the front axle and check the kingpins. Surely it is not always sound common sense to expect the same man whose job is to repair a vehicle to go out of his way to look for further defects. Owing to the pressue of work on most workshops staff, they do tend to wait until a defect is reported to them, usually by the driver, before taking action.
Maybe if the firms who have lost licences in the past for bad maintenance had had their vehicles regularly inspected by an outside, unbiased examiner, they would still have a full operational fleet on the road today.
We all talk of preventive maintenance. Surely, regular inspections (bi-monthly) are the first step in that direction, and the average cost per vehicle for six inspections a year is little more than one complete extra oil change.
Or maybe operators do prefer to collect prohibition notices instead of trading stamps?
R. E. DEBNAM, Canvey Island, Essex.