Exhaust Pipes – Not me officer!

Thanks to Wirral Advanced Motorists’ and Tom Ashton, slightly edited.

A police officer pulls a driver over for speeding :

Officer:  May I see your driver’s licence?

Driver:  I don’t have one.

Officer:  May I see the registration document for this vehicle?

Driver:  It’s not my car, I stole it.

Officer:  The car is stolen?

Driver:  That’s right.  But come to think of it, I saw the owner’s registration document in the glove box when I was putting my gun in there.

Officer:  There’s a gun in the glove box?

Driver:  Yes sir, that’s where I put it after I shot the woman who owns this car and put her in the boot.

Officer:  There’s a body in the boot?

Driver:  Yes, sir.

Hearing this, the officer immediately called for back-up.  The car is quickly surrounded by police and an inspector approaches the driver to handle the tense situation:

Inspector:  Sir, can I see your driving licence?

Driver:  Sure, here it is.

It was valid.

Inspector: Who’s car is this?

Driver: It’s mine, officer.  Here’s the registration document.

It too was valid.

Inspector:  Would you slowly open your glove box, so that I can see if there’s a gun in it?

There was no gun in the glove box.

Inspector:  Would you mind opening your boot? I was told you said there’s a body in it.

Driver:  No problem.

The boot is opened and there’s no body.

Inspector:  I don’t understand it.  The officer who stopped you said you told him you didn’t have a driving licence, stole the car and had a gun in the glove box and that there was a body in the boot!

Driver:  Yes and I bet the liar told you I was speeding as well!

Dynamic Signs – Edited, and with thanks, from the Journal of Consumer Research

Researchers from the University of Michigan and Brigham Young University (BYU) have discovered a way to provide a little extra safety margin when it comes to near-accidents. They have found that people react significantly faster to warning signs that depict greater movement.

‘A sign that evokes more perceived movement increases the observer’s perception of risk, which in turn brings about earlier attention and earlier stopping,’ said Ryan Elder, a professor in BYU’s Marriott School of Management, and co-author of the study. ‘If you want to grab attention, you need signs that are more dynamic.’

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 10.26.02

Dynamic signs are those that include images appearing to move at a higher speed. For example the cross- walk sign from the US, left above, with the figures apparently showing little speed of movement, has very little dynamism. The sign in the middle, from Poland, with people running, has more, and the one on the right is highly dynamic – the figures appear to be sprinting.

‘If the figures look [as if] they’re walking, then your brain doesn’t worry about them shooting out into the road,’ Elder said, ‘But if they’re running, then you can imagine them being in front of your car in a hurry.’

In one simulator experiment, researchers found that drivers reacted an average of 50 milliseconds faster to warning signs with higher dynamism. For a car going at 60 mph, that 50 milliseconds translated into an extra 4.4 feet travelled – which could make a difference in close shaves.

Advance Warning of Speed Limits

Thanks to Group member Doug Barr for his piece commending ‘slow-down zones’ with progressively reducing speed limits before a town or village 30 mph limit. Doug also floated the idea of different speed limits on each side of the road in areas like this.

For example, coming into Macclesfield from the north on the Silk Road, there is a 30 mph limit to protect the pedestrian crossing just before the Hibel Road roundabout. This is very sensible, even though the limit is commonly more honoured in the breach than in the observance. Leaving the roundabout northwards, however, especially as the road is a dual carriageway, maintaining the 30 mph limit for the southbound protection distance before you reach the national limit signs often causes visible frustration among, and unpleasant tailgating from, following drivers. In the early days of the IAM, this would have been classed as ‘driving without due consideration for other road users.’ An immediate release to the national limit after the pedestrian crossing would make complete sense.

Doug reported that some people whom he had discussed slow-down zones with had expressed the view that an aware driver should never be caught out by a change from the national speed limit to 30, but others had agreed that slow-down zones were a good idea.

On the A55 westbound (approaching Colwyn Bay?) there used to be, and perhaps still is, a 50 mph speed limit introduced on a curve, down from the national limit of 70 mph, without prior warning. One could be driving at 70 safely and realistically with regard to the traffic conditions, and able to stop within the distance that one could see to be clear, but still be embarrassed to slow down sufficiently and in good time for the 50 limit because of the risk of following traffic being caught napping. This is another situation where distance-to-go signs, like those used before the 30 limit for some villages, but earlier to suit motorway speeds, would be valuable.

For a further thought, here is an item that we first published in our May 2007 Newsletter:


Some towns and villages in Portugal have a sign saying (in Portuguese) ‘Controlled speed’. A hundred metres or so along the road is a set of traffic lights. If a vehicle enters the speed-limited area above the 50 kph speed limit, the lights go red for a short while.

How simple, and how effective. Whether a driver is over the speed limit deliberately or inadvertently, he is brought in check. If he was ‘pressing on’, he will lose more time stopped at the red than he would have done complying with the speed limit in the first place. And the system has the very beneficial side- effect of encouraging a community interest in observing the limits, because if one driver triggers a red, everyone who was observing the limit has to slow down or stop as well.

It would be good to see the IAM Motoring Trust promoting this system in this country. It would not bring in the revenue stream that ‘gotcha’ cameras 50 yards or so inside speed limit signs probably do, but as a positive measure inviting the intelligent and public-spirited cooperation of all the driving and riding community, it would be excellent.

Graham’s Gems – August 2015

In June we had a great Sunday social ride out to Abergele (mainly for an ice-cream and the stimulating sea air), then riding back to the White Lion, Barthomley to enjoy a well earned pint.
We met at Barthomley Services mid-morning, and rode up to the Ponderosa Café, at the summit of the Horseshoe Pass near Llangollen. We then took a circuitous route to Corwen, then Ruthin, Cerrigydrudion, Llyn Brenig, Bylchau and on to the promenade at Abergele. We returned via Llanrwst, Bala and Whitchurch. Everyone who attended thoroughly enjoyed the day.
Unfortunately I had to cancel the ride-out planned for 26 July because of very inclement weather, so there was much disappointment. However, you may like to join the next social ride, which is planned for 30 August, and there’s another on 27 September. The last one of this biking season will be on 18 October. See our Events page and let us know if you’d like to attend.
Group members receive an e-mail notification for each ride-out, so, hoping your appetite has been whetted by what you’ve seen here, I trust you’ll find the time to join me and fellow enthusiastic bike members on some of these rides. We have some of the best biking roads within 30 miles and Wales has some of the greatest, so let’s ride or even drive them. If you’re not a member and fancy seeing what we’re all about then get in touch with me (bike@congletoniam.org.uk) and join in.
In June the bike section organised a presentation by Geraint Hughes, one of the bike examiners for CAM. It was titled ‘Reading the Road’, and Geraint explained, by images and video, what additional information can be gleaned from the road, its construction, signage, road lines and position, and how a better understanding of even little things can assist your riding and driving. His knowledge, understanding and wealth of experience, supported by his excellent public speaking skills and anecdotes, made for a very entertaining yet thoughtful evening from which everyone went away, regardless of their own substantial experience and knowledge, having learnt something new. I’d arranged with the Broughton Arms, Rode Heath, to use their conference room, and I was delighted to find it was packed with members who’d come along to listen and enjoy a meal beforehand. I think I’ll have to find another venue with a larger room for any future presentations. The majority of members were from our own bike section or other bike groups, like Blood Bikes and Stafford ROSPA, but our car section was represented as well. What Geraint had to say was relevant to anyone who uses the road, whether on bicycles or driving LGVs. This presentation is one of a number he does: the bike section plans to host some more presentations over the next 18 months and would encourage all riders and drivers to attend.
Stay shiny side up and enjoy your riding in the month ahead.
Graham Board – Chief Observer (Bike)

Count Down Speed Limits – Doug Barr

I was recently working in Llanelli, and rather than take the obvious M4–A449–A40–M50–M5–M6 route back to Congleton I used the A483 instead. This route isn’t any quicker, as it also takes just over 4 hours, but it is only about 170 miles rather than 220 and the scenery is more interesting.

Something which I noticed and which seemed like a good idea was that before the road passed through villages and towns there would be a couple of hundred yards of 50 mph limit, followed by a couple of hundred yards of 40 mph limit, before the 30 limit for the village or town. As the road wasn’t exactly straight it wasn’t possible to see a village half a mile ahead and slow down in advance. It seems that rather than having a situation where you come round a bend to be faced with a 30, and rather than start the 30 limit before it is needed, the traffic engineers have decided to indicate that there will be a lower limit coming up and give the road user time to adapt their speed.

The result as far as I could see was that rather than braking for a change from the national speed limit (NSL) to 30, it was possible to comply with the limits simply by easing off on the accelerator. The result was a smoother drive, less wear and tear on the brakes, and a better fuel consumption.

I didn’t notice any speed cameras in these ‘slow down zones,’ so I am happy to believe that these areas are genuinely there to improve safe traffic flow rather than to raise money. Some people that I have mentioned this to disagree and think that an aware driver should never be caught out by a change from the NSL to 30, but others have also thought that this is a good idea.

Now, to be controversial, how about having different speed limits on each side of the road? The NSL–50– 40–30 arrangement works when entering a village or town, but there is no reason why on leaving the village the speed limit shouldn’t go straight from 30 to the NSL.

Come and ROAR with the IAM team

Be part of our IAM Ride-out and Rally 2015, 11 July, National Motorcycle Museum, Solihull

The first ever IAM Ride-out and Rally Motorcycle Festival will take place this Saturday, 11 July, at the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham. It will be a celebration of all things motorcycle, including the skills of those who ride them. Find out more at www.iam.org.uk/homecoming.

Tickets are just £10 if pre-booked (pillions free), and include an IAM-only tour of the world’s finest and largest motorcycle museum, packed full of classic machines. To book individual places online, visit www.iam.org.uk/homecoming or call 0300 303 1134.

You can join an informal IAM group ride-out to the Festival by turning up from around 8 am onwards at any of the following locations:

  • Lyn’s Raven Café, A41/A49 junction, Prees Heath, Whitchurch, Shropshire SY13 2AF.
  • Jack’s Café (A5), Watling Street, Towcester, Northamptonshire NN12 8ET.
  • Donington Park Services (M1), Castle Donington, Derby, East Midlands DE74 2TN.
  • H-Café, Oxford Road, Dorchester, Wallingford, Oxfordshire OX10 7LY.