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Old 15th October 2007, 17:22   #1
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Default Why the Obsession with High Speeds?

I see a lot of posts indicating insane top speeds of 150 kmph and more, and our auto journalists get some sort of adrenaline rush in pushing the gas. That is not safe even on the US highways and German autobahns, leave alone the Indian roads. The max speed in various countries with well-designed roads for high speed motorways is: US (55-65 mph), UK (70 mph), Sweden (110 kmph), Switzerland (120 kmph). Yet 40-50% and upto 80% of the drivers drive above the posted speed limits endangering not only their lives, but more importantly endangering the lives of others. However, a distinction must be made between those who drive a few kmph above the speed limits (most drivers) and those who drive excessively above the speed limits, which generally involves a small proportion. These are lunatics and must not be allowed at all. In the US, a survey on speeding by NHTSA indicates that while at least three-quarters of drivers admit to driving over the speed limit, most seem to set a boundary as to how much over the limit they will travel on different types of roads. Around 51% reported driving 10 mph over the speed limit on interstate highways. However, around 34% reported driving 20 mph over the speed limit on interstate highways.

Almost all road safety experts agree that excessive and inappropriate speed is the number one road safety problem in many countries, often contributing to as much as 30-35% of fatal accidents and an aggravating factor in most accidents. Although `speed thrills, but excessive speed is more likely to kill’

In general, the number and severity of road traffic accidents rise as speed increases. You already know that high speed reduce the time available to process information, to decide whether or not to react and, finally, to execute an action. This means the distance covered during normal reaction time periods increases with an increase in speed.

The visual field of the driver is reduced when the speed increases. At 40 kmph, the driver has a field of vision covering 100°, which allows obstacles on the roadside, or other potential hazards, to be seen. At 130 kmph, the field of vision covers around 30°, which reduces considerably the capability of the driver to assess potential danger.

As braking distance is proportional to the square of the speed, the distance between starting to brake and coming to a complete standstill also increases greatly with increasing speed. The time needed is composed of two elements: the reaction time of the driver (approximately 1 second in standard conditions) and the braking time.

The possibility of avoiding collisions reduces as speed increases. As an example, with a speed of 80 kmph on a dry road, it takes around 22 metres (the distance travelled during a reaction time of approximately 1 second) to react to an event, and a total of 57 metres to come to a standstill. If someone runs onto the road 36 metres ahead (seen all the time on Indian roads), the driver would most likely kill the person if driving at 70 kmph or more, hurt seriously if driving at 60 kmph and avoid hitting if driving at 50 kmph. However, if the same person runs out on to the road 15 metres ahead of the driver, the probability is that the person would be fatally injured at 50 kmph and all higher speeds.

The stopping distance also depends on the type of pavement and the condition of the road, with higher stopping distances on wet roads. At 60 kmph a driver needs around 46 metres to come to a standstill on a wet road, an additional 10 metres over the distance required when stopping from the same speed on a dry road.

Traffic accident research on urban roads indicates that the higher the proportion of drivers who exceed the speed limit, the more accidents occur. Individuals driving at more than 10-15% above the average speed of the traffic around them are much more likely to be involved in an accident. Accident frequency rises by 10-15% if the average speed of these motorists increases by 1 kmph.

Even when speeding has not been determined as the decisive cause of an accident, the severity of injury is highly correlated with the vehicle speed at the moment of impact. The effects follow the rules of physics regarding the change in kinetic energy that is released in an accident. The energy released and absorbed in an accident is linked to the impact speed in an accident, and most of the kinetic energy is absorbed by the lighter crash `opponent’, who is often the flesh, blood, and spongy road user. The likelihood of being seriously injured in a collision rises significantly even with minor changes in impact speed. Heard of the Nilsson Power Model which illustrates the relationship between serious injury accidents, fatal accidents and speed. According to this model, serious injury accidents are related to the third power of the speed; and for fatal accidents, the fourth power of the speed. Based on the Power Model, a 5% increase in mean speed leads to approximately a 10% increase in all injury accidents and a 20% increase in fatal accidents. Similarly, for a 5 % decrease in mean speed there are typically 10% fewer injury accidents and 20% fewer fatal accidents The effect on the number of fatalities is higher than the effect on the number of fatal accidents and corresponds, on average, to the power of 4.5.

The consequences of accidents also depend on the type of accidents and the type of road users Involved. Pedestrians, cyclists and moped riders for example have a high risk of severe injury when motor vehicles collide with them, as they are completely unprotected: no steel framework, no seatbelts, and no airbags to absorb part of the energy. The probability of a pedestrian being killed in a car accident increases with the impact speed. Results from on-the-scene investigations of collisions involving pedestrians and cars show that 90% of pedestrians survive being hit by a car at speeds of 30 kmph; whereas only 20% survive at speeds of 50 Kmph. In addition, elderly pedestrians are more likely to sustain non-minor and fatal injuries than younger people in the same impact conditions due to their greater physical frailty.

Even a well protected car occupant wearing a seatbelt has limited protection in high speeds. According to WHO, wearing seatbelts in well–designed cars can provide protection to a maximum of 70 kmph in frontal impacts and 50 kmph in side impacts (excluding impacts with obstacles such as trees or poles for which the protection is only effective for lower speeds).

In addition to the increased risk to vulnerable road users, there is increased risk of serious injury to occupants of light vehicles in collisions with a heavier vehicle. This is because the energy that is released in the collision is absorbed mainly by the lighter vehicle and even small differences in mass can make a significant difference. Current trends in vehicle design are leading to many larger and heavier cars, while light vehicles are continuing to be produced, thus increasing the difference in mass of the new vehicles being manufactured. A mass difference of a factor of 3 is not an exception for vehicles on the road, especially between older and newer cars. The difference in mass between a car and a heavy goods vehicle is even larger and can easily be 20 times greater.
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Old 15th October 2007, 17:33   #2
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its the TORQUE not the high speeds for me at least..
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Old 15th October 2007, 17:37   #3
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well, the Indian conditions are such...that people loose time being stuck in stupid jams ,so they mite like to press the peddle to recover the loss!

its one's individual choice...some seek pleasure at low speed some at high speeds.. accidents can happen anywhere,anytime...whats the point of living in fear.. yes but it does mean be reckless and endanger others! if the govt was kind enough to give some tracks for people who like to live it in the fast lane!

Last edited by noidaboy : 15th October 2007 at 17:39.
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Old 15th October 2007, 17:42   #4
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Originally Posted by noidaboy View Post
well, the Indian conditions are such...that people loose time being stuck in stupid jams ,so they mite like to press the peddle to recover the loss!
Do not worry, this is the universal excuse. No matter what the traffic, there are people who drive safely (may not mean slowly) and there are those who do not. But the laws of physics hold for speeds no matter how many jams. There are other ways of committing suicide, but suicide should not be accompanied with murder. Most countries consider 100-120 kmph to be the absolute tops even on high speed motorways. In urban driving, not more than 60-70 kmph. Need data. I can post that also.

Last edited by Aditya : 15th October 2007 at 17:48.
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Old 15th October 2007, 17:49   #5
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there are many highways especially in N.America where you can do 150kmph safely. since ive not been to Germany i cannot comment on the autobahns.
to answer your question, its basically for an adrenalin rush and in some cases to check a cars top speed i know many German cars are limited to 155mph but i like to verify this every once in a while.
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Old 15th October 2007, 17:53   #6
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thats a very well thought out post. but i think you have missed the point (or maybe i have) driving slow alone doesnt reduce accidents. rather put the focus on educating people on following rules. as in look if the road is empty and then cross rather than running across and some people even think they can beat the car and save 2 seconds and instead lose their life if the driver doesnt react fast enough.

pedestrians need to learn to cross at designated crossings and car drivers have to learn to slow down and give way at those crossings.

no point driving at 50kmph if a pedestrian crosses the road right in front of you. this happened to me and was the scariest moment of my life when i turned into a lane and then 2 ladies who were chatting on the pavement steped on the road to cross it looking behind instead of in front at the road just at the moment i was next to them. i had just moved my leg from the brake pedal to accelerator and no way could have reacted in time to move it back to brake. just missed them by inches
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Old 15th October 2007, 20:16   #7
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Default Wowwwwwww Great Post

Vasudeva! Great Post.

It is nice to see someone who tries to make a difference in the crowd.
I do agree that by seeing various posts with the powerful cars and newly built up superb 4 lane roads we tend to put the safety in the back seat. What ever arguments put against this, there is only one answer.

With more speed, the risk of accidents are higher.

Let's drive at safe speed! We all have one life, let's not risk ours and also other folks on the road
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Old 15th October 2007, 20:33   #8
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Originally Posted by bottle View Post
thats a very well thought out post. but i think you have missed the point (or maybe i have) driving slow alone doesnt reduce accidents. rather put the focus on educating people on following rules. as in look if the road is empty and then cross rather than running across and some people even think they can beat the car and save 2 seconds and instead lose their life if the driver doesnt react fast enough.
very well said! in India how many follows traffic rules of changing lanes? even if we drive slow on the roads, what if a truck driving at 40 kmph looses its brakes and ramms into the slow driving car? then the chances are still there. But yes, on the high speeds, Precautions should be there. Whenever i had a long drive on the highways, i had always means always touched my car to 170-185 kmph mark and i normally drives at 130-140 kmph on the 2 lane highways. There is a big difference between driving experience of a person who always drives at 60-70 kmph starts driving at 130-140 kmph and the person who always drives at 130-140 kmph on highways. Experience also matters dude.

Like i said i driving a bit fast on 2 lane highways like jaipur highways, express ways, noida, GT road to amritsar etc. acc. to my experience i know which truck will give me side easy and which truck will take time. like a heavy container truck will take a lot of time to give you space, so better to accelerate with a thrust from the wrong side and that too maintaining a distance from the truck, use proper dipper... Don't use much of a horn while overtaking from the left. We should take few steps in our mind from other's experience while travelling on the highway. and ofcourse i had seen many fools racing on the highways and running their car bumper to bumper at 100 kmph to have a side from other cars. They are the biggest fools on this earth to do it.

Once i was coming back from amritsar in my car, like 6-7 cars were in line at around 100-110 kmph. i have habit of maintaining a lot of distance bet. my car and the car ahead of me and i was having a zen behind me. Suddenly alll the cars ahead of me applied emergency brakes, its just zen behind me was a lame driver to keep approx 4-5 mtr distance from me since 2-3 km. I knew it was a zen and it will ram into my car, now here goes a little experience. Emergency brakes applied, mine with ABS and i took full use of ABS. While applying brakes i had an ultimate left turn because of that zen and you know where is stopped? just next to the rear door. Damn!! you know what happened? why we applying brakes? because one indica suddenly applied brakes because he wants to take a U-Turn and people were beating him on the road. So, we need experience and have to follow some rules while driving above 100 kmph.
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Old 15th October 2007, 20:49   #9
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Need for speed is one of the intrinsic fantasies many of us have. Its the same fantasy that gives birth to faster transportation, air travel etc. However what is true is that excercizing those on public roads has potential to cause public harm.

However with more facilities where people can take their games to safely, such exploits on the real public roads will reduce.

Take a simple Gully cricket example, with better playgounds people wont stick to their mohalla braking peoples heads and window panes.
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Old 15th October 2007, 20:54   #10
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Old 15th October 2007, 21:01   #11
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But, cutting down on speed is not the appropriate measure.

In a city like Delhi the speed limit is 50kmph. But i don't remember the last time i had touched 50 in city driving between 8am-10 am & between 5pm to 9 pm.

A zillion flyovers are there in Delhi but whats the use . You land up into bottlenecks before & after the flyovers due to the lack of traffic sense & lack of directions.

People go bonkers on roads. The damn autos & cycle rickshaws driving on the bloody right side & the killer blue lines rampaging anywhere is not helping any cause.

Its not about the speed issue & its about how well you control yourself. Self Control is the key. Similar to when you are a couple of pegs down but being a bottle down is something different.

The govt. has to levy some damn rules & make people follow them.

Speed doesn't kills its the speed demon within u.
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Old 15th October 2007, 21:06   #12
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With power comes the responsibility. Very often we forget that.
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Old 15th October 2007, 21:26   #13
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Actually "need for even more" is the basic human psychology. It's true not only for speed, but everything else in life (money, power etc.)

Speed alone doesn't kill. It's the inappropriate speed that kills!

Germany is the only country in the world, where there is no speed limit in most autobahns. Yet, road casualty statistics in Germany is no more than other neighboring European countries.

Usually obsession with speed is maximum in teenage years and diminishes as people become older and more matured (for this reason, in most developed countries, insurance premium is excessive for younger drivers - mainly boys)

There is no substitute for good judgment during driving.
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Old 15th October 2007, 21:49   #14
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As Hyundai.Lover pointed out, driving fast is a skill and those who are experienced can handle the speed safely. It is when an inexperienced driver gets his hands on a powerful vehicle and tries to cut loose that there is a grave danger of an accident.

I have been doing 130-150 kmph consistently on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway for the last 2 years, usually twice a week (Pune-Mumbai-Pune). I have seen quite a few inexperienced drivers trying to speed on the Expressway. And needless to say, on almost every trip I see crashed vehicles.

Once a Hyundai Accent overtook me at a very high speed (probably 170 kmph) at night, about 20 kms prior to the Lonawala ghats on the way to Mumbai, and as I followed him, I saw the danger signals in his driving style. He was braking for the slightest curve in the road and then accelerating. He failed to correctly anticipate the movements of the traffic ahead and had to brake while cutting lanes in his desperation to stay ahead of me. I could easily keep up with him while doing steady speeds of 130-150 kmph.

When we hit the Lonawala ghats, I thought I had him, for I knew these ghats like the back of my hand. But I winced as he let his Accent rip at ~130 kmph through Khandala tunnel, while I slowed down to about 110 near the exit. As he encountered the sharp winding left turn at the end of the tunnel, his rear did a small jig. I watched in horror and expected him to go crashing into the mountain on the right. Fortunately, he retained control and after that I slowed down further to let him go.

We must have speed limits for precisely this kind of driver, who tries to push a powerful vehicle way beyond his own skills.
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Old 15th October 2007, 22:14   #15
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I am not obsessed with speed but sometimes i do rev up a bit if its really urgent or i am in a hurry but i still don't drive RASHLY. In cities i totally drive in specified limits 90% of the time. But at highways i like to drive at 100 - 120. I don't like to take the car to 150 - 160 and then break hard and then again taking it to 150. I would rather drive constantly at 100 - 120 enjoying music.

At the end i would like to say driving fast doesn't PROVE that you are a a better driver that the one driving slow. It only proves that his butt is on fire and he is driving fast to find water (i am just kidding here).

So drive slow and low (low rider) to enjoy the MUZIK
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