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Old 8th March 2011, 17:37   #1
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Default Do safe driving speeds actually depend on the type of car you drive?

Hi folks,
While changing over from Maruti 800 to my New Wagon R, I made a discovery that needs some thinking. So I bring it up with you.

When I used to drive my Maruti 800, a speed of 50 kmph used to look just the right speed. Beyond this, I used to feel that I am treading on danger ground. 40 kmph used to be the speed I was most comfortable with.

In Wagon R, I would think I am driving at the same speed I was comfortable with in my Maruti and yet be surprised to see that the speedometer would say 60 kmph. Also 80-85 is the new speed I will think beyond which Wagon R starts looking a bit risky. So just by a change of car model, my notion of safe speed has changed.

In Wagon R, 60 kmph feels stress free.

Previously, sitting in my Maruti and watching people drive at 60 Kmph used to look dangerous driving to me on busy roads (not highways or expressways).

Wagon R braking, engine handling probably explain the leap in the safe speed that it has achieved.

So here's my question.

When seated in Wagon R and watching people cross me at 80-90 kmph looks dangerous. These cars are typically Volkswagen, Scorpios, Altis etc.

Would sitting in those car and driving at 80-90 look like safe driving?

So shouldn't safe speed depend on the car you drive? I am not talking of legal speed limits, just safe driving speed limits.

Or is it a function of skill? In which case I am the same driver whose notion of safe speed changed with the car I drove.

Yes, maybe another skilled driver would have driven Maruti at 50 and Wagon R at 80 and thought of those speed as safe compared to mine.

But then it goes on to prove the same thing again.

That speed depends on the car you drive.

Am I right or am I wrong?
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Old 8th March 2011, 23:03   #2
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Default Re: Do safe driving speeds actually depend on the type of car you drive?

Safe driving speeds does depend on the car. but, not ONLY the car. It also depends on
  • The Driver, his reflexes.
  • Road Condition
  • Traffic Conditions
  • Lighting
  • Tyres & Brakes. You can go faster in the same car with better tyres and brakes
  • Suspension
In your case, however, the 800 handles much better than the WagonR, but then the latter has a much refined engine, NVH characteristics and build, giving you a safer 'feel' at high speeds.

So, a car with better NVH, build quality, and a refined engine and powertrain will coverup the actual speeds(in a straight line). It need not necessarily be safer.
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Old 8th March 2011, 23:14   #3
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Default Re: Do safe driving speeds actually depend on the type of car you drive?

Yes for sure.
If you travel in Ambys at 60 kmph the feeling is that you are flying where as in later gen cars 60 would not be even noticeable from inside.
Further at speeds above 80 kmph one has to literally stand on the brake pedal to bring the Amby to stop. Same is the case when reversing an Amby in to a slope.
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Old 8th March 2011, 23:20   #4
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Default Re: Do safe driving speeds actually depend on the type of car you drive?

I was once riding my Thunderbird with a pillion. Speed around 70 or so on a beautiful winter evening. She leaned forward and asked me why I was riding so slow.

I pointed to my speedo that was hovering over 70.
She was confused and said there is something wrong with my bike as her scooty feels faster at 40.



Suspension, tires, handling go a long way in how comfortable a driver and passengers feel.
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Old 8th March 2011, 23:28   #5
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Default Re: Do safe driving speeds actually depend on the type of car you drive?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bblost View Post
She(?) leaned forward and asked me why I was riding so slow.

I pointed to my speedo that was hovering over 70.
She was confused and said there is something wrong with my bike as her scooty feels faster at 40.



Suspension, tires, handling go a long way in how comfortable a driver and passengers feel.
+1 to that. In my car speed of 80 seems to be like 40.
Brakes, Tyres, Steering feedback, Handling. All these are very very important. Also cars with a bit lower GC will feel a bit more planted at higher speeds. Simple laws of physics.
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Old 8th March 2011, 23:28   #6
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Default Re: Do safe driving speeds actually depend on the type of car you drive?

[quote]
Quote:
Originally Posted by bblost View Post
She was confused and said there is something wrong with my bike as her scooty feels faster at 40.
True. I remember I got to drive a Bajaj M50 long back and at 25/30 it felt as if I am doing 60+
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Old 8th March 2011, 23:39   #7
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Default Re: Do safe driving speeds actually depend on the type of car you drive?

Keeping every other factor (driver, road, traffic, etc) constant, answer is Yes.

Me and my friend were on a road trip in my Ritz. He drives an Alto daily. When he took the steering, he just didn't realize he was touching 120 in my Ritz. He thought we were doing about 90 on NH4. He had never crossed 110 in his Alto, and boy was he surprised with the ease with which he cruised to 120.
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Old 8th March 2011, 23:45   #8
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Default Re: Do safe driving speeds actually depend on the type of car you drive?

Reminds me of the day I drove the Astra for the first time on Delhi-Noida DND Flyway. Had been used to driving around in a M800 before and here I was doing 130 on the Astra with no idea of how fast I was till I saw the speedo.

As luck would have it, I duly got flagged down and fined for over-speeding too
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Old 8th March 2011, 23:46   #9
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Default Re: Do safe driving speeds actually depend on the type of car you drive?

Personally I think upto a certain speed, being in different cars will make you feel different safe driving speeds.

For example your 800 at 80kmph on an expressway would feel like its losing control.

In your Wagon R 80kmph or even 90kmph would feel completely in control on the same stretch of road.

If you drive something like a Laura or a Superb you will feel the same confidence at 140kmph. But then again even if you feel safe at that speed, it might not be, owing to the road or traffic conditions.

The feeling of safety might be there at very high speeds in some cars, but it might not be safe at all.

So IMO safe driving speeds do depend on what car you are in, but upto a certain speed say 120kmph. Beyond that on any road might be dangerous because of traffic or road conditions.
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Old 9th March 2011, 00:01   #10
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Default Re: Do safe driving speeds actually depend on the type of car you drive?

To me it does depend on the car. As you said m800 feels less safer than wagon r. Its not just a 'feeling', it IS.

Reason being that the m800 is much much older in terms of technology. When it was launched it was good, may be way back in 1983 or rather the new m800 in 90's. A newer wagon r would have a much better braking and control. Some may say wagon r being a Tall boy is less stable though

Similarly a Swift may handle better than a wagon r as well.
A Fiesta handles and brakes better than Swift.
A Laura does tons better than any of the under 10 lac cars.
And above 20 lakh (the bmw's, audi's and merc's) cars are hundred times better than under 10 lac cars.

For instance a Swift might go off guard braking too harsh at 140kmph but a Skoda Octavia may not owing to the vehicle design, tyres, brakes, better chassis etc. More money often gets more safety!!!

And another aspect would be to compare the manufacturer. In some ways Fiat cars are better off than Maruti cars. And German's are far better than many others.

So in a lot of ways, what the thread starter felt IS TRUE. Its just not something to do with the 'feel' of speed in different vehicles.


BUT GENERALLY ITS NOT SAFE TO GO ABOVE 120kmph in Indian Roads except for a select few super highways no matter what vehicle it be.

Last edited by sam_sant2005 : 9th March 2011 at 00:04.
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Old 9th March 2011, 00:50   #11
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Default Re: Do safe driving speeds actually depend on the type of car you drive?

Very much. But your title is a bit misleading actually, as I perceived it to be something else, for which I had a different answer in mind

Well for one, how do you define safe. Where you are completely in control, alteast 2 seconds away from the person on front of you, can stop safely in an emergency and so on define this. As you go higher up the value chain, obviously factors like weight of the car come in, better handling and stability, safety features, better tyres, suspension and so on, all of which make you feel better in control of the car

Even if yuo take two sedans, a lighter car feels like it may take off after certain speeds, but a costlier sedan, will exude that planted feel.

So, obviously, money plays a huge factor here and as you go higher, it is because of quality that makes it feel safer. But despite all that, at the end of the day, big or small, the road is not forgiving. One mistake and you learn the very hard way
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Old 9th March 2011, 08:21   #12
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Default Re: Do safe driving speeds actually depend on the type of car you drive?

Quote:
I pointed to my speedo that was hovering over 70.
She was confused and said there is something wrong with my bike as her scooty feels faster at 40.



Suspension, tires, handling go a long way in how comfortable a driver and passengers feel.
The reason(My personal thought) why it feels different between the two bikes is because one is a very high RPM engine that makes more whine and good torque while the other is a low rpm/high torque engine making the whine far more smooth. This just translates to the perception one is driving fast while the other is driving slow.

The bike is heavier and this also contributes to the perception of driving slow at 60.

Quote:
As you go higher up the value chain, obviously factors like weight of the car come in, better handling and stability, safety features, better tyres, suspension and so on, all of which make you feel better in control of the car
Agreed. I feel the higher the capacity of the engine and higher the power output at low rpm makes a car feel far safer even at comparable speeds. At similar speeds the higher capacity engine producing better torque at lower RPM tends to feel far more safe.

To compare my Jetta and Swift, Swift feels very comfortable upto 80kmph. Jetta feels the same upto 110kmph. I can drive my jetta with the same level of confidence at 110kmph, as i drive my Swift at 80kmph.

This includes the ability to maneuver, brake and sit your car always in the straight line.
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Old 9th March 2011, 09:23   #13
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Default Re: Do safe driving speeds actually depend on the type of car you drive?

Here is my experience from driving a Padmini in 80s to VRS now. I feel following factors defines your driving patterns

1. How rev happy is your engine, acceleration
2. Baking
3. Cornering and straight stability
4. Cabin noise like from engine, wind, tyres ect
5. Suspension design

For every car there is a comfort zone, like my baleno its around 100kmph, but with my safari i feel its around 80kmph and when i drive Rs the handling is awesome and one feels home even at 160 kmph.

Last edited by v&v : 9th March 2011 at 09:24.
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Old 9th March 2011, 09:59   #14
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Default Re: Do safe driving speeds actually depend on the type of car you drive?

Safe driving speed is dependent on most important thing:
reflexes and how fast your nervous system can intake information (sight, sound), process it, and activate the motor units (hands, feet)

Humans beings have been designed for reflexes which are just adequate for his top RUNNING speed = not more than 40 kmph.

When you are in a car - your mental input=>processing=>output signal chain remains same.


You may feel safe/comfortable or anything, but the truth is we are not really designed to keep ourselves in absolute control at high speeds (higher than 35-40)
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Old 9th March 2011, 10:11   #15
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Default Re: Do safe driving speeds actually depend on the type of car you drive?

I have never taken my 800 above 80kmph. When I updated to alto I felt 60 kmph is comfortable and 80-85 was the maximum safe speed. I have tasted 100 some times and withdrawn from the effort realizing that it is not safe. Then after driving my father's Getz I felt my alto is slow and 70-80 was comfortable in Getz. But 100-110 was the upper limit and it was not giving confidence beyond 100. Same I felt for my friend's Ritz though slightly better. In my Punto I have touched 130 and it is lot more confident at that speed and get a feeling that I can go more. Also Other factors that affecting the confidence level is the quality of roads, tyre and suspension of the vehicle and of course the driving skill and the Ignorance of the driver. We might have seen the taxis (Indica , sumo and Omni) overtaking us in high speeds and the driver doesn't know about what cause the wheels to get locked and for them any speed(which their vehicle can do) is safe till they make some accidents.
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