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Old 31st October 2013, 14:26   #1
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Default Electric locking & window mechanism. Boon or bane for Safety?

For the past some months now, I have been reading news and reports of where the electronics fail and cause death of individuals while an escape could have been easily made possible. Today, everybody is aware about the Bangalore-Hyderabad Volvo bus accident (it happened on Wednesday morning) which was gutted by fire and which killed 45 passengers who were 'trapped' inside the bus because of a failure of the central locking mechanism. These people died a horrible 'burnt-alive' death. May their souls rest in peace

The complete article can be found at
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/i...w/24915158.cms

Extract from article

"District collector M.Girija Shankar said the passengers could not escape as the central locking system of the bus made it impossible for them to open the door. The emergency windows opening were also automatically locked."


Apart from this we have all heard reports of the expensive Audi's, BMW's and Mercs cars catching fire and charring their occupants to death because the doors and windows would not open as the central locking and power window mechanisms jammed

During the Surat/Mumbai floods, we read reports of people who kept their engine on when their tailpipe was under water which resulted in asyphyxation due to the carbon monoxide seeping into the cabin. In some cases, the doors and windows did not open because the water had shorted the central locking mechanism and the power window mechanism

Now it is the turn of the Volvo buses to join this tragic bandwagon.

I just want to ask the members here on what they feel;

1- Sometimes is it better following the KISS rule (Keep it Simple Stupid) & have no central locking mechanisms/power windows on our cars?

2- These electronics and gizmo's in these high end cars are supposed to enhance the safety of the occupants; how come they are doing the exact reverse?

3- Shouldnt the power windows/central locking mechanisms have a 'mechanical override' switch for cases like these? Do these German cars have them? And if so; where are they positioned? Ideally they should be within the drivers reach and they should activate all 4 doors. (I had a similar bone to pick with Bajaj when they removed the kick start from all their 200cc + bikes. What if there's an emergency? Someone steals my battery etc? But its not as serious as the case above)

My car has central locking but no power windows. And i dont plan on getting them either. Sure, i have to manually wind it up and down but atleast it wont give me sleepless nights when I see/read about an accident on the road with the occupant of the car trapped inside.

Last edited by rahul4321 : 31st October 2013 at 14:31. Reason: typo correction
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Old 31st October 2013, 15:21   #2
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Default Re: Electric locking & window mechanism. Boon or bane for Safety?

Nowadays many modern cars come equipped with safety features like auto door unlock in the event of an accident. However, in the event of fire, its quite likely that these mechanisms may go haywire. Statistically, the number of these malfuntions may not be substantial but given the stakes involved, its always adviseable to carry some blunt object in the car that can be used to break open the windows in case the central locks/power windows malfunction.
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Old 31st October 2013, 15:23   #3
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Default Re: Electric locking & window mechanism. Boon or bane for Safety?

I had read about automatic door unlock in case of accident feature on Aria, search through web and found this link.

http://www.tataaria.com/blog/the-36-...you-get-right/

This can be a very helpful feature in case of emergency. Completely agree with you comfort and convenience should not come at the cost of safety
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Old 31st October 2013, 15:28   #4
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Default Re: Electric locking & window mechanism. Boon or bane for Safety?

Great thread! Adding links to some related discussions for additional reading:

Civic death (Honda Civic catches Fire)

Swift death (Swift Catches fire: Owner Dies)

Locked inside (Being locked inside a car!)

TIP: In an emergency, remove the neck restraint (head rest) and use its metal rods to break the glass.

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Old 31st October 2013, 15:40   #5
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Default Re: Electric locking & window mechanism. Boon or bane for Safety?

The VOLVO bus in question did not have any hammer to break glass?

Anyway I hate the electronic locks. You don't have any control over them when the electricals fail. I never understood why we don't have a "catch release" mechanism from inside which can override all the so called superior electronic intelligence.

It is not that difficult.
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Old 31st October 2013, 15:47   #6
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Default Re: Electric locking & window mechanism. Boon or bane for Safety?

No system is a boon or bane to safety. Each system has a logic built into it, and the users of the system are supposed to know that logic. Yes, all safety systems are created with the KISS principle - all those that are integrated into a vehicle at the time of manufacture, that is.

* Public knowledge in India is abysmally low about safety in transportation systems. This includes knowledge of what to do from inside a vehicle as well as from outside

* In developed countries, Emergency workers - Fire Services and Ambulance - are trained and given specific equipment for emergencies. They also have a system in which the closest station has to ensure arrival at the spot of an emergency within 3 minutes - and the people who don't are penalized.
In India, we rely more on *hope* than systematic handling.

* It is not a matter of knowing technology - it is about knowing what to do or not to do, as the case may be. How many people do you think know what to do when an accident happens? How many know how to deal with the emergency exit in trains and buses?

* Automatic door locks - integrated into a car - are supposed to release the lock as soon as the engine stops. Immaterial whether the engine was shut off by the driver, or shut off due to accident

* In the case of the Hyderabad highway accident, it is the ignorant journo who is misinforming everyone. In buses, there are no automatic door locks. The doors in luxury buses (even in many city buses) are electrically / pneumatically / hydraulically controlled. This means that the driver has to open and close the door - it is not an automatic system. If the driver panicked and ran off, what will the passengers do? Whose fault is it that the driver is not sufficiently educated and trained?

* In the same accident, no one was able to open the Emergency exit. How sure are we that the bus operator had not tampered with it - rendering it permanently unusable - to prevent nuisance? That is what most private bus operators do - to prevent public from opening them in their curiosity to know "What happens if I open it?". Please go see a bus - you will most likely find the emergency door / window screwed shut physically from outside with bolts. Why? Quite simply, they don't anticipate an accident that may require using it. As I said earlier, they also rely on *hope*
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Old 31st October 2013, 15:55   #7
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Default Re: Electric locking & window mechanism. Boon or bane for Safety?

For the exact reason that is mentioned, I prefer the system that can be seen on FIATs and Fords in India, though there may be other who use the same method.

First of all in the case of a crash, the system auto unlocks the doors. But many a times you may think that would fail, as it depends on electronics. But even without the electronics, in this case all you need to do is pull the handle as you normally would which then successively manually unlocks the door locks and then opens the door itself. Thus you have a manual mechanical override of the door locks.

As for the Volvo bus, I dont think there is a method to lock the bus from inside at all. But opening the pneumatic door is not easy. Quoting my post from another thread:

Quote:
Originally Posted by julupani View Post
Actually the main passenger door can be opened from the inside, even manually. But the opening of the door is not like any normal door. That is because the door does not rotate about a hinge on the end like usual doors, but hinges about a central point in the middle. Thus pushing/pulling the door does not have the effect of opening. To open it you have to pull it slightly and then rotate it. I have myself tried it in one of my recent Volvo bus journeys. The actual pneumatic mechanism for door opening and closing had malfunctioned on the bus, and the crew were opening the door manually. I too gave it a try, and while its not easy to do, its not impossible.

Unfortunately in a panic situation passengers would normally not be able to achieve that.
Quote:
Originally Posted by alpha1 View Post
The VOLVO bus in question did not have any hammer to break glass?
Many buses have the hammer, many dont.

But one thing is for sure, 99% of the people wont know that you have to use the hammer in the first place. Nor will they take note of the location of the emergency windows after boarding either.

Last edited by julupani : 31st October 2013 at 16:05.
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Old 31st October 2013, 16:01   #8
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Default Re: Electric locking & window mechanism. Boon or bane for Safety?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DerAlte View Post
* In the case of the Hyderabad highway accident, it is the ignorant journo who is misinforming everyone. In buses, there are no automatic door locks. The doors in luxury buses (even in many city buses) are electrically / pneumatically / hydraulically controlled. This means that the driver has to open and close the door - it is not an automatic system. If the driver panicked and ran off, what will the passengers do? Whose fault is it that the driver is not sufficiently educated and trained?
*

Absolutely right on the 'Hope' part you mentioned! Also the fact that the junta of our country is clueless on the safety aspects of these buses which includes having knowledge about emergency exit procedures as well as the location of the emergency exit themselves. But to answer your question about the driver; i had read the below lines in a seperate article as well (I was slightly disturbed today morning and read quite a few articles on this topic). I just thought i'd paste them here so that atleast we can conclude that the driver and the cleaner did not run away while leaving the passengers in lurch


Extract of article

"Eyewitnesses said the fire spread toward the cabin while the passengers huddled at the rear with the glass doors locked.

Feroze and the bus cleaner reportedly tried to unlock the doors but in vain. Both of them and five other passengers escaped through the exit near the driverís seat. Other passengers had no escape route and they were engulfed in flames within minutes."



Taken from
http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/...cle5287797.ece
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Old 31st October 2013, 16:18   #9
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Default Re: Electric locking & window mechanism. Boon or bane for Safety?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rahul4321 View Post
... But to answer your question about the driver ... atleast we can conclude that the driver and the cleaner did not run away while leaving the passengers in lurch ...
My question was rhetorical, not accusing the specific driver. Also, it would be short-sighted to make that assumption the they 'did not run away'.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rahul4321 View Post
... Feroze and the bus cleaner reportedly tried to unlock the doors but in vain. Both of them and five other passengers escaped through the exit near the driverís seat. Other passengers had no escape route and they were engulfed in flames within minutes." ...
What is unclear at the moment, and hopefully the truth will emerge in the coming days, is where did the fire originate, and in which direction did it spread.

It doesn't sound logical that 5 persons were able to escape through the driver's door, and the others were unwilling / not in a position to follow.

Also, all door opening / closing systems (if they are the regular systems, and not jugaad ones) have a manual override *at the door opening mechanism". We don't know whether the occupants knew that. It is possible for the fire to disable the opening / closing system, but local over-ride? Mind you, Volvo buses are not like ye olde Tata and AL buses - chassis and body made by 2 different parties.
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Old 31st October 2013, 16:26   #10
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Default Re: Electric locking & window mechanism. Boon or bane for Safety?

I have a question, in such situations would the plexiglass cave in to repeated forceful blows from inside?

What if 10 odd passengers starts impounding on the glass like crazy, wouldn't it break making an exit for trapped passengers?
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Old 31st October 2013, 16:26   #11
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Default Re: Electric locking & window mechanism. Boon or bane for Safety?

Reading about these incidents frequently should hopefully prepare us at the time of crisis. If I notice smoke coming into the cabin or smoke coming out the engine bay, I hope I have the presence of mind to do the following in order in quick succession -

1) Inform the passengers, hit the brakes & try to stop on the side
2) Ask the passenger to unlock the passenger door from inside
3) Open the door a bit and hold the door by hand
4) Unbuckle the seatbelt & get out after the car stops.

If I'm alone -

1) Roll down driver side window immediately
2) Unlock the central locking from the driver side
3) Slow down & move to the side
4) Open the door a bit even while the vehicle is slowing down
5) Stop and get out to investigate.

I'm assuming it takes time (a couple of minutes perhaps) for the fire to fry the electronics and disable the windows & central locking systems.

It's a bit like what one has to do when the tyre bursts on highways - thinking fast and acting is probably safer than keeping something in the car to break the glass.

Last edited by smartcat : 31st October 2013 at 16:30.
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Old 31st October 2013, 16:49   #12
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Default Re: Electric locking & window mechanism. Boon or bane for Safety?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rahul4321 View Post
Extract from article

"District collector M.Girija Shankar said the passengers could not escape as the central locking system of the bus made it impossible for them to open the door. The emergency windows opening were also automatically locked."
I personally don't know how the central locking system is supposed to work in Volvo buses, but to me it seems like someone at repair/service shop messed up by linking the Regular and Emergency exit systems. The point of the emergency exit is to provide an alternate means of exit when some primary system(doors/locks etc) goes down. I cannot imagine a company like Volvo which is lauded for their safety features messing up in such a manner as to have the emergency exit get locked via the central locking system without a manual mechanical override.
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Old 31st October 2013, 17:53   #13
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Default Re: Electric locking & window mechanism. Boon or bane for Safety?

Hello,

In the quoted Volvo Bus incident, there are 5 survirors. Below is one of them - Jai Singh's account of the situation: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/c...w/24960879.cms

The article mentions: "But as fate had it, his eyes veered towards the emergency exit behind him, which he smashed in seconds and lunged out of the bus" Jai Singh also mentions that on seeing smoke & flames, everyone rushed towards passageway & exit leading to chaos & stampade.

Thus if Jai Singh who was seated a last row, could spot the emergency exit, smash the glass & jump out of the bus, I am sure few others could have also done the same. But most of the passengers were probably trying hard to exit from front door.

I accept it is very easy sitting in comforts of our home / office & make a guesswork on the cause of so many death, but I am fairly sure that there will be no technical issue with the bus.

Also like in most incidents in India here too there is a mention of chaos & people stepping on others in bid to escape. Probably the citizens here need some lessons in handling emergencies.

Thanks,
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Old 31st October 2013, 20:15   #14
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Default Re: Electric locking & window mechanism. Boon or bane for Safety?

In our office we have fire drill and stuff exercising safety norms when fire breaks up. Similarly I wish there was some way to reach out to the public about handling emergencies.

I feel we should have fire extinguishers inside a bus near the passenger seats, at the least 4 fire extinguishers. I am not sure this would have helped in such a case but those could even be used to break glass (as shown in movies).

In bbc I read that more than 130,000 people died in road accidents in India in 2011, according to the government's National Crime Records Bureau.
source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-24739253

I find this number huge. Those numbers are lives and sufferings for the families of those poor souls and what is government doing? Very very less.
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Old 1st November 2013, 12:55   #15
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Default Re: Electric locking & window mechanism. Boon or bane for Safety?



According to the newspaper the Volvo bus caught fire after it hit a culvert. Doesnt the 80lakh bus have a fuel cut-off system? Couldn't that have prevented some damage at least?
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