Dates For Your Diary
Monday 14th March 7:30
Meeting: Clive Jones - former head of South Wales Police driving school, will talk about Police driver and rider training, and how it differs from civilian. Clive looks forward to your questions.
Monday April 11th 7:30
Meeting: Geoff Gregor, Bike Examiner. Come and hear what the examiner expects from you on your test.
Remember that monthly Bike Ride-Outs take place on the 3rd Saturday of every month.
Monthly meetings are all held at Liddington Village Hall opposite the church.
Do you have a topic you would like discussed, or know of an interesting speaker? Please contact Monica!
|Don’t forget that we have a range of clothing available to purchase. We also offer a range of books, such as Roadcraft, Motorcycle Roadcraft and the Highway Code, and these are available at discounted prices.
For more information visit the Merchandise page of our web site at www.wiltshireroadar.co.uk.
We are always looking for more articles, ideas and news for the newsletter. Have you been somewhere interesting recently that would make a good story? If you attend any group events then take a camera and send us your pictures!
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We're now on
February meeting report - Bloodhound SSC
Martin Evans, Bloodhound "ambassador", was our presenter for the evening.
Martin arrived early with his audio-visual kit and dressed in his Bloodhound SSC hoodie (which he had to pay for himself). We were treated to a lively presentation including facts, figures and fun.
Martin started by explaining that the main purpose of the Bloodhound SSC project is NOT to break the land speed record, but to promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) among our school children. It’s been very successful in this aim, involving 60,000 pupils each year in schools around the country. One example of this is the model rocket car challenge for schools, which has created a new category in the Guinness World Records, and has seen the record raised rapidly from 88mph in 2011 to a massive 533mph in 2014, with little cars no more than a foot long running along wires (so they don’t leave the track and injure someone).
We were given some background to the history of the Land Speed Record, which started in 1898 at 39mph, but was broken only 10 days later. There have been periods of dominance by various countries throughout its history – Britain in the 1930s to 1960s, the USA up to the 1980s, then back to Britain, with Thrust 2 (driven by the current project director, Richard Noble), then Thrust SSC, the current holder at 763mph. There are only 4 rules for an attempt:
- The car must have 4 wheels
- There must be a driver on board
- It must traverse a measured mile twice (once in each direction) within an hour
- The car must stay on the ground
The new car, Bloodhound SSC, is 13m long, and weighs 7.5 tons. It has a jet engine from a Typhoon fighter, a hybrid rocket (from Sweden) and a Jaguar V8 engine to pump fuel to the rocket. It’s nearly complete, although the project has unfortunately run out of money at present, and needs several million pounds more to see it through to completion. Hopefully with some more finance, it will be able to undergo slow-speed runs (up to 200mph) this year, and embark on its first record attempts in 2017.
The record attempt track (in the Kalahari desert, a very remote and poor region of South Africa) is 12 miles long, along a dry lake bed. The local people have helped to create it by sweeping away more than 6000 tons of stones. A South African company, MTN, have created a very high speed mobile network in the area to carry all the vital telemetry during the runs, although almost no-one in the area has a mobile phone.
The runs will take the full length of the track – 5 miles to accelerate, 1 mile of measured top speed, then another 5 miles to slow down again. Initially just shutting off the engines and the rocket produces 3g of deceleration, then air brakes will slow the car to 200mph, before wheel brakes take over. The car has solid aluminium wheels 0.9m in diameter, machined to very close tolerances – the forces at the rim of the wheel equate to 50,000g at 1000mph.
Facts like this abound. The key thing is that the project is there to educate, and promote STEM among our school children. The designs are open, CAD drawings freely available on the web. There is competition, including a colourful Aussie with a car very similar to Bloodhound, but running on a tiny budget. Whoever sets the next Land Speed Record, it will involve huge effort, and valuable insight into technology. We wish Bloodhound the best of luck!
Monica Graham talks about the issue of older drivers and how Wiltshire RoADAR is interacting with them, with some thought-provoking questions to finish.
As a Car tutor I have recently been asked to do some assessment drives for older drivers. These are a one-off drive so any advice given was based on safety, speed, smoothness, positioning for limit point, and of course noticing and understanding what the road signs mean.
Others may have differing views on this, but I believe you can only encourage drivers to adjust their driving in a way that time allows and that they are able to, and willing to accept. Normally we are out for about two hours, but always with a comfort stop and a coffee!
My first driver was an active 80 year old gentleman. He sat too close to the steering wheel and always drove with his sun visor down. When I commented on this he said he found the driving position comfortable, and having the visor down all the time helped him concentrate on the road. I left this situation in place for a while to see what effect this would have on his driving. It soon became apparent he did not have much vision of the road ahead and even though it was a dry clear day he was reluctant to put his visor up. I took a route whereby we could stop at the top of a hill safely, to show him the difference between what he could see withe the visor down and then with it up. On this particular road, you can see for almost a mile, across hedges, where the road bends and vehicles coming up the hill towards you. Also at the bottom there are traffic lights. It allowed me to explain about planning his drive, which gear to be in and what he could expect on this road.
It was also very noticeable that he could not reduce his speed to 30 mph and keep it there, even with my suggestion of putting the car in 3rd gear. Looking more closely at his seat position and his feet, I noticed that his foot never came off the accelerator because he had no room to do so unless he was braking. At our coffee stop, while the car was stationary, I asked if he would like to try and move his seat back one or two notches to show him the difference it made to his whole body posture and that he could still reach the pedals comfortably. We discussed this over coffee and he was willing to try both on our return journey and soon admitted that he felt more comfortable, was able to look over his right shoulder more easily and he could see more.
Gentleman number two was also 80, continually changing gear and extremely harsh when braking, so much so that both driver and passenger were propelled forward. More often than not, he was stopping on the handbrake instead of bringing the car to a stop on the foot brake. He had no knowledge of block gear changing and was therefore slowing the car down on the gears and handbrake which became harsh both for the car and anyone in it. Most of this drive was concentrated on speed limits and speed approaching junctions, roundabouts and traffic lights, as well as being aware of what was going on around him. Shoulder checks were difficult due top stiffness in the neck and shoulders.
Gentleman number three, 70 years old, watch this space. He has been driving with me for about a year and fingers crossed will be taking his test in the not too distant future.
Conundrum - what would you do?
I visited my pharmacist the other day to find an elderly lady trying to stand up with the help of her walking stick and the pharmacist. It was clear to me she was in a lot of pain and she had a neck brace on, could not walk unaided, was to my mind very ill, and the pharmacist thought she needed help to get to her car which was parked a short distance away in the town square. I offered to drive her home, either in my car or hers, which she refused. In the end I supported her to her vehicle, a large automatic mobility estate car. Apparently she had three cracked ribs and had injured both legs in a recent accident.
She had great difficulty getting into her car, and as other cars were parked blocking her visibility she could not see to reverse. I suggested she wait until I told her it was clear, but she started to reverse and although I banged on the car window she nearly ran me over. She was clearly having trouble using the footbrake. I eventually managed to get her to stop and wait but she was in a right state and just wanted to get home.
- She had just come from the GP. Should he have stopped her from driving?
The Pharmacist was on his own so could not leave the shop, but I think he did all he could to prevent her driving, especially when I arrived and offered help.
- Should I have taken her keys away and taken her home and then driven her car back to her?
- Should someone have reported her to the DVLA pointing out she is not fit enough to drive?
I certainly would have felt guilty if she had caused an accident on her way home.
- Should it be left solely to the individual to inform the DVLA that they are not fit to drive?
Food for thought and discussion.
Re-tests and membership subscriptions
Don't forget that all members are welcome to have further training drives/rides with a Tutor before taking their three-yearly re-test. Please contact Monica if you would like to arrange this. Please can you also let Monica know when you take your re-test so that the Group's records can be kept up to date.
On a similar note, a reminder about membership subscriptions. Depending on your status, you will be liable for different fees:
Associate member (not taken an advanced test) - you pay a subscription to the Wiltshire Group only. When ready for test, you pay a test fee to RoADAR HQ, usually via our Group Treasurer.
Full member (passed an advanced test) - you pay a subscription to the RoADAR national organisation (currently £28 per annum). This pays for your triennial retests. If you elect to remain a member of Wiltshire Group, you also pay a subscription (currently £17 per annum) to us. This covers our monthly meetings, hire of premises, tutor training, this newsletter, etc.
Peter Genet now has a regular fortnightly slot on the station talking about road safety, advanced riding and driving. Join him every other Tuesday at 10:00 with repeats on Wednesday at 18:00. 1st March and 15th March will be the next two dates.
Skillshare will be starting on the first Saturday in April at the Divine Cafe in Cherhill. This year we hope to extend it to car drivers as well as bike riders. Drivers or riders can turn up and get a free assessment of their skills, with the opportunity to sign up for full membership if they want to take it further. If members get an opportunity to publicise this please ask Mark Sealey (skillshare(at)wiltshireroadar.co.uk) for more information.