Tag Archives: Road Safety

The End of Pavement Parking is Nigh

We’ve all been tempted to park part on the pavement to create a little more room on the road so cars can make easy progress, not to mention so they won’t clip your car. Door mirrors aren’t cheap but are required by law, so don’t want to lose them. 

You have seen it just as well as I have, where some inconsiderate little jerk-off decides to park too close to a corner, or double park on a road thats too narrow or generally just get in the way. Even worse there seems to be a range of white-van-men, couriers and taxi’s who decide to mount and drive along the pavement to make progress or pull up wherever they feel like. Many use this method to pull on to the curb at say building number 49 and drive along the curb to number 180 without queueing in traffic or to make it around traffic to turn a corner some way up the road. Others have a habit of parking as close to possible to the school / pub / shops creating a serious hazard just to save a little time at the expense of others.

Cats Claws

Inventor Yannick Read, 47 from Bristol a member of the Environmental Transport Association (ETA) has drafted an idea for a gadget he calls “Catclaws”, and has so far in the last year had a pretty good response to it. I would speculate that this is being fuelled by fact 43 people was killed as a result of drivers mounting the curb and driving on them last year. Not to mention the terrorist attacks using cars which have mounted the curb, which would be greatly reduced had their tyres all been shredded by speed. 

Catclaw Solar Reflective Surrounds

Catclaw Solar Reflective Surrounds

The gadget works like Cats Eyes, you know the little reflective studs on the motorway, only these are situated on pavements (away from the curb stone), so when a car drives over them in either direction, they burst the cars tyres in a brutal way. The devices have what appears to be a loaded spring which can detect the difference between a bike, a pram, or anything under a certain weight.

Its interesting that the inventor says the device is cheap to make, it uses only 4 commonlu available parts put to gether in such a way which makes the invention. Its also possible to add a solar powered illumination so they are lit up and easy to see at night, which I think would be essential, along with reflectors perhaps a Cats-Eye-Claw is the answer. 

Expensive Lesson

There is also a downside, sometimes you are pressured or obliged to mount a curb, such as when a liveried police vehicle instructs you to, or when other emergency services are trying to pass you. What about when your making a tight turn or parking and you need to roll over the curb, or accidentally mount it. Its an expensive lesson to learn, that device looks like it would destroy the inner tube which is £20 and the tyre on my car that’s £167 on black circles, so call it £200 per corner, if it takes out both tyres on 1 side, thats a £400 lesson. 

Now thats not even allowing for damage to the alloy wheel / rim during rapid de-pressurisation, will certainly crunch the edge of the rim on initial impact and grind upon turning, I’d guess your looking £300 per corner including a lathe finish on the alloy.

Average Speed Cameras on Busy Roads

I was reading an article about those crazy Dutch people, on the one hand very liberal with the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, Techno, but when it comes to driving they are very much the opposite. The latest idea is to use Average Speed Cameras or SPECS (for us) the type we often see around road works on the motorway with a 50mph limit but on provincial roads. This appears to include UK Equivalent of A-Roads.

SPECS Average Speed Camera

SPECS AVG Speed Camera

I did a little research and it seems the Dutch have a kind of similar system to us, only they have a version of the Autobahn called the Expressway for faster vehicles, along with Highway (Motorway) and Trunk Roads these are supplemented by the Provincial Roads, which which are a mixture of Major A-Roads (2+ Lanes) and Dual Carriageways. We in the UK are already taking this step with the Major A Roads such as the A14 and A40, but there are calls to introduce these on less major A-Roads, such as the A6. There are a few stretches between Manchester and Stockport, and Stockport and Hazel Grove which are of concern. One of them once had 3 speed cameras within 1 mile, which had an interest legal case where someone got hit by all 3 but argued it was a single speeding offence caught 3 times. 

The research has always shown that when people see a speed camera they often dangerously brake increasing the risk of causing a collision. This is part of the reason they are painted yellow, locations are listed, and in general police don’t hide when using speed guns. On a side note its worth noting the police mobile cameras get you up to 1 mile away, and only need an area the size of a door mirror to get you, so by the time you see them, they already have you. It has also been shown that many persistent and deliberate speedsters, will simply slow down for a camera and then leadfoot it right after. 

SPECS Cameras

A new type of camera were created called SPECS which are Network Cameras, oddly SPECS isn’t an acronym or anything and has no meaning, but its a SVDD (Speed Violation Detection and Deterrent) System which uses long range ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) tracking over the network of connected cameras. Specs on the A40 for example the cameras are between 950 meters and 5,198 meters (approx 1km and 5km) apart, so they aren’t always the same distance.

Inner Ring Road Manchester

Inner Ring Road Manchester

Its also been suggested that consecutive cameras are not always linked, and they can be randomly linked or clustered into groups. I’ve created a fake average speed zone on the Inner Ring Road in Manchester City Centre. If you imagine Red, Blue and Black are only connected to each other 24/7, and randomly Black Connects to Blue, and sometimes Black to Red and so on. This method is called Alternating Groups in a Many-to-Many Formation. This system I would say is to make it impossible to game the system, but also means its potentially possible you could get away with speeding if a situation like 6-7-8 existed, where 3 consecutive cameras are in  groups so aren’t connected.

There have been people who have used techniques convoys blocking blocking each others number plates at alternate cameras, so the systems evolved and the many-to-many connections makes this impossible. It won’t stop people trying their luck. A freedom of information act request has revealed that around 30% of all traffic cameras are not functional, due to damage or simply being switched off. The actual cameras which are off, are not published for safety reasons. 

This in theory means that on a major A-Road say the A6, if you were travelling from Manchester to Derby, which is about 60 miles with the vast majority being 30mph roads. You could pass 50 SPECS cameras, each one would calculate your speed over the last 1 to 60 miles depending on connections. If you passed Camera 1 in Manchester at 13:01:23 and suddenly you pass camera 2 in Adwick at 13:02:53, the system determins you drove at an average speed of 40mph between Checkpoint 1 and Checkpoint 2.

It also means you could pass camera 1 in Manchester at 12:00, then camera 27, nearly 30 miles away, at 12:50 and the system would know you had speeded. Should this happen, one would hope camera 27 would check your data points between 1-27 since you may have taken a different road which a greater speed limit. However the potential for this sort of system does exist, and the Dutch maybe about to implement it. 


SPECS Camera image by DeFacto, Map by Google Image, modified by Steven.