GENERAL ARTICLES

Safety Seconds

EDWARD DIX April 15 1934
GENERAL ARTICLES

Safety Seconds

EDWARD DIX April 15 1934

Safety Seconds

EDWARD DIX

THE OLD garage man who tows in the wrecks on our part of the highway was discussing automobile accidents and their causes the other afternoon. "You know,” he said, “I’ve been thinkin’ that if we had some of that Alphonse and Gaston stuff it’d go a long way keepin’ folks out of hospitals and cemeteries.

"Yes, sir,” he continued, carving himself a slice of chewing tobacco, “I guess if every motorist in this country followed the suggestions we hear about highway safety, we’d be cuttin’ down on accidents fifty per cent overnight, or anyways by the middle of next week. My opinion on the situation is this: You drive carefully enough for yourself and the other fellow too, ’cause the chances are he ain’t.

"If you want my personal system. I’ll tell you. I’m always expectin’ the country’s prize nut around every next comer the bird who was born on the wrong side of the road.”

'Ehe old garage man’s personal system is passed on to you for what it s worth, allowing you may not be that kind of a bird but another kind. At the same time, perhaps it might not lie considered too great an indiscretion to remind you that in Canada in 1932, according to the Department of Vital Statistics at Ottawa, there were 1,116 persons killed as the result of automobile accidents; while in the United States in 1933 the death toll was 29,^XX).

For all the uneasiness that these figures are apt to arouse, a consideration of highway safety and the measures to be taken to safeguard life and limb must confront the motoring public at all times, but particularly when the snows of winter are vanishing, the grass springs green again in the countryside. and throughout the length and breadth of Canada the highways and byways beckon. Unfortunately, our old friend the garage man isn’t counting on having any less work this summer.

For years extensive educational campaigns for safety have been dinned into the Canadian public. Provincial departments of highways have done, and are doing, everything possible to safeguard the lives of pedestrians and motorists. Roads and streets have been improved by elaborate systems all striving for the goal of safety first. Yet the rate of accidents every year will not keep down, but rises at an alarming rate, in this country the death toll for

the last ten years is more than 10,000.

In the United States, official figures show that more than 325,000 were killed in the last fifteen years.

What’s to be done about it? Who’s to blame? How much is it the motorist’s fault and how much the pedestrian’s?

Some Interesting Facts

OOMEONE HAS remarked that “we are usually pretty ^ peaceful in our attitude toward our fellow men, but the minute we get behind a steering wheel we seem to regard every man as our enemy.” Perhaps there’s something to that. There have been more people killed by motor cars in the United States than in all that country’s foreign wars to date.

Words that come naturally to mind in any discussion of the prevention of accidents on streets and highways are “carelessness,” “negligence,” “recklessness,” “stupidity”— and, if we are to believe the people who know, the greatest of these is stupidity. At the same time, one must not overlook that sly and sinister impulse, that spirit of competition, which propels two motorists into a collision—with the consequent entanglement of innocent passengers and maybe a pedestrian or two.

"I’ll be darned,” says the motorist, “if that guy passes me or gets across the street intersection first.” The guy doesn’t; no one does.

Sometimes it’s not the other guy that must be beaten, it’s a train; and when train and car reach the same point at the same time. . . the rest is regrettable.

Then there’s the motorist who won’t be bothered about traffic signals, or with signalling his right or left turns; the fellow who is at his best conversationally when he is driving, and keeps his eye on the passenger beside him when he should keep it on the road ahead.

Motorists may blame pedestrians and pedestrians mayblame motorists, but an equal distribution of responsibility on both would perhaps be the answer to the riddle of “Who is responsible?" In this connection some figures published recently by the Travelers’ Insurance Company of Hartford,

Connecticut, in a booklet entitled TheGreat American Gamble show some interesting facts. Here is how far the pedestrian is responsible:

Of automobile fatalities in the United States last year, thirty-one per cent were caused by pedestrians crossing in the middle of a city block or walking against traffic signals; seventeen per cent were caused by pedestrians walking along the highway; thirteen per cent by children playing in the street; eleven per cent by pedestrians coming from behind parked cars; and twenty-eight per cent from miscellaneous causes.

The safety experts had this to say in commenting on these figures:

"Pedestrians can be found almost any time and in practically every city making use of parked cars in a game of hide-and-seek. They walk along roadways with their backs to traffic, whereas the least they could do would be to walk facing traffic so that they would not always be at the mercy of drivers.” In the defense of pedestrians, though, they add: “Why must pedestrians scamper for their lives in getting on or off street cars, or while waiting for street cars? Because drivers under such conditions are boorish.”

As for the motorists, the following figures are presented:

Driving too fast was responsible for thirty-three per cent of fatalities; going off the roadway for nineteen per cent; right of way involved, for fourteen per cent; driving on the wrong side of the road, thirteen per cent; passing on the wrong side, three per cent; miscellaneous, eighteen per cent.

A car going forty miles an hour is four times as capable of inflicting damage as at twenty miles, it was pointed out. When going sixty miles an hour, it is nine times as dangerous. Automobiles travelling at twenty, forty and sixty miles an hour have the same capacity for causing damage that they would if driven off a one-, four-, or twelve-story building.

The observance of signals, good judgment, courtesy and fair play all have their place. But one aspect of highway safety which perhaps has not been stressed enough, and

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should always be stressed, is the equipment of the automobile. How far has faulty equipment contributed to highway fatality?

The question. How are your brakes? needs no comment. Nor the other one: How are your lights? The question we propose for your consideration is: How are your

tires?

What would happen to your car, your passengers and yourself if you had a blowout? Well, anything that happened to you would be your own fault. An interesting court case in Ontario recently brought out some pointed and pertinent remarks from the bench in that connection.

They showed that, according to the court decision, a motorist is responsible for the condition of his equipment; that a blow-out is not an act of Providence when the tire is badly worn; and that damages may properly accrue to the party injured in an accident thus caused.

In his address to the jury, the judge said:

“I hope your finding in this case will serve as a warning to those who still persist in driving upon our highways cars inadequately equipped to cope with the hazards of modern traffic conditions. Such cars are a menace to the safety of those who are anxious to observe Ute law and also to fulfill their

obligation to other users of the highway by seeing to it that the tires and other equipment are of such quality and in such condition as to enable them to maintain complete control of their vehicles under any contingency that may arise.

“I think it is disgraceful that cars with worn-out tiresand inferior mechanism should I be allowed to operate on our highways, and ! I hope the result of this case will serve as an j object lesson to those who fail to observe the law in this regard.”

Our old friend, the garage man, is by way of being a bit of a philosopher at times. At any rate, he has some definite ideas on this matter of highway safety.

“Hurry.” he says; “that’s the whole trouble with this accident business. People are always tryin’ to save five minutes. Transportation lias improved a lot these last few years, but I guess places to go have stayed just about the same. If everybody would give five minutes a day to safety, we’d cut the death and accident toll right in two.”

Five minutes! Paraphrasing a recently; popular song, it’s a case of:

Brother, can you spare five minutes a day?”

Materials in Radio

r"THE STRIKINGLY large quantity and variety of materials which are used by the American radio industry are revealed in a statistical report compiled by the LInited States Department of Commerce. Steel, in strips and bars, leads the metals in quantity, totalling 110,000 tons a year. Copper, in

sheets and as wire, follows with 12,000 tons, with copper alloys accounting for 4,000 tons more. Tin in foil form and tinplate agg egate 1,800 tons. Nickel alloys, used in tubes, amount to 1,500 tons, and zinc contributes a total of 1,200 tons.—Scientific American.