Team, I am a very interested reader of AutoSpeed and give great weight to the thoughts, opinions and ideas of the writers. Recently I read the article that was in a very old issue, "Speed Kills - The Big Lie?" by Dennis Jensen. I then read the following article "Speed Kills" by the Adelaide University. I recently saw a letter sent in by a livid reader about being booked by police using radar. I don't usually write into forums for discussion but I believe that I have some very interesting points to add. I currently work in Police Highway Patrol and have extensive experience in speed and traffic enforcement, and accident investigation.
I am also very interested in cars and technology and am the proud of owner of a modified VL Commodore Turbo.
I must strongly express that the views that I present in this letter are my personal views only.
I also read the Guest response from Murray Booth, which I believe to be accurate and to the point. People with the need for speed should join a car club and go racing on a track. Anyone who has ever done it would agree that it sure beats the hell out of driving on the road. It is good to see that AutoSpeed presents all sides to a discussion and is open minded about how an issue can be resolved. My two cents worth starts with types of drivers. I believe there are two types of drives on our roads. There are those that have a high degree of skill, awareness and experience. These are people who understand the physics of driving, have practiced how to employ proper car balance and control and have a high degree of general road awareness. These are the drivers that are looking WELL ahead and scanning for any potential danger or obstacle. These drivers also drive to the conditions that not only include road surface and weather, but also traffic density and pedestrian density. If all drivers were like these, I personally don't think that there would be a need for any speed limits at all.
In my line of work it is easy to see who these drivers are. Driving a fully marked highway patrol car you kind of tend to stick out like a sore thumb. At the beginning of a speed check I estimate the speed of a vehicle and release the radar. A good driver has already seen my car, at a great distance away, and if they are speeding they have already begun braking. This shows that they are looking ahead. Drivers who are looking even further ahead can sometimes pick an unmarked police car.
The second type of driver, to put it bluntly, has absolutely no idea. I have no hesitation in saying they easily make up more than 50% of the drivers on the road. The only thing they know about the road and cars is that it is how they get around. The only place they look ahead is two feet in front of them, usually the car in front's bumper bar that they are tailgating. They have no knowledge of car handling, crash avoidance or how to identify potential obstacles in the environment ahead. If I had a dollar for every time that myself or a colleague stepped onto the roadway 200 metres in front of a car, wearing fully reflective vests, a "Stop Police" reflective baton waving frantically up and down in front of the driver and the police car warning lights activated, only to have to dive out of the way. Then we have to pursue them down the street as they stare into space. If they can't see us, how could they see a child on the road or a broken down car? This is where the danger in speeding lies. This is the type of person that is a very large danger to other road users at normal speeds, let alone higher ones. They are the ones who will drive along at 20km/h over the speed limit, or at the speed limit for that matter and not see the 10 children playing on the footpath 100 metres in front of them. They don't see the potential danger and adjust their speed for the event that the children might run onto the road. Obviously there are many variations of these two extremities and endless degrees between each. From my experience these are the two opposite ends of the scale. A combination of both may be a person who may assess and see the dangers ahead but neither cares or takes any precautionary measures to slow or avoid them (Well they ARE late for work!). However the sight of a fully marked police car usually makes them care!
The second factor besides drivers is the type of car that one drives. Obviously the more expensive vehicle with traction control, ABS, larger brakes and better gripping tyres, offers an advantage over other vehicles. On the opposite end of the spectrum is a vehicle such as old Kombis (sorry Kombi lovers!) with bald tyres, brakes that barely work, handling like a house and rust right through. In my opinion the more advanced and looked after vehicles are much safer on the roads. This is at any given speed with the same driver. It is easy to see why. If you have an inexperienced driver in a Nissan GTR, the ATTESSA system does a lot of the work for them at critical speeds where traction control assists. Any all wheel drive car you can name, WRX, Liberty, Audi etc, gives the inexperienced driver more ability to stay in control. Put the same driver in a powerful rear wheel drive car without any electronic or mechanical assistance and it can be disastrous. I must concede that if you put an experienced and competent driver in either style of car that the differences are not so vast but the all wheel drive car can push even harder.
What I am getting at here is that the variation in types of drivers and vehicles that they drive are endless. There is such a vast difference from one car travelling down the road to the next. This difference is reflected in the fact one may have an accident, the other may not. The second article by the Adelaide University addresses Pedestrian accidents. Even a competent driver can't tell if a pedestrian is going to step out in front of them. A competent driver would slow to less than 20km/h if a pedestrian was standing on the side of the road and about to step out. How often do you see that happen? This article was very good as it addressed the dropping of 60km/h zones to 50km/h zones. The article stated that Australia has one of the highest residential speed limits in the world. I hear a lot of you say, some residential zones hardly ever have pedestrians in them, or are not residential at all. Again it is a case of when there are pedestrians there, they need to be protected from people who would not adjust their speed accordingly or aren't paying attention.
Another point I wished to raise was that of road types. As far as I'm concerned, a dual lane carriageway with a 100km/h zone is one of the most dangerous pieces of road to travel on. And this is with a set limit of 100. This is where most rural fatal accidents occur. This is where you have no control over 50% of the things on the road, the cars coming toward you. Forgive me if I don't trust every driver on the road with my life. If you think about it, you have two cars travelling in opposite directions 100km/h sometimes only a meter apart. Doesn't sound safe, does it? Even if you are a very competent driver, all you need is an idiot travelling the other way... How many racetracks are set up with that sort of danger? CAMS's (Confederation of Australian Motor Sport) safety people would have a field day.
The whole point I am trying to make is that there are so many variable factors to consider when implementing speed limits. There are drivers that are competent enough for certain circumstances to travel at greater speed than the limit set by the governments. They have the ability and road sense to make competent decisions about how fast they travel in the conditions and roads they travel on. Unfortunately for them, the whole issue is not as simple as this. If all speed limits were increased, there would be those drivers that would not cope very well and would most likely cause an accident going even faster.
So what does this all have to do with speed limits and enforcement? Easy. If the speed limits were raised by 20km/h, sure, the first type of driver would have no problems using that as their limit. They would reduce their speed to the appropriate safe speed, at times that were necessary, and there would be a minimal amount of accidents. But do this and the second type of driver, the one with no idea, now travels at the speed limit, which for them, is not so safe. An obstacle would occur and they would not see it until right in front of them. Their reaction time (usually slower than the first type of driver) kicks in and then they have no idea of how to stop, probably skidding (increasing their stopping time and voiding all chance of manoeuvring around it) and then crashing into the obstacle.
When an accident does occur, whether your fault or not, speed is one of the biggest deciders in whether or not it is just panel damage, injuries or fatal. That being said, I have attended a fatal accident where the car was travelling at 30km/h. And some people wonder why we enforce seatbelts so much. How many people do you know who have been driving for over 30 years, who have never had a ticket (i.e. your parents), that would lock the wheels instantly and lose control of a car in an emergency situation. The poor police on the side of the road have limited ways of telling how safe a particular driver is. As police we have to act ethically and treat everybody as equal which myself and all my colleagues do. By stopping everyone including competent drivers from driving too fast, we also stop those that are not competent and would cause an accident. We also strictly enforce school speed zones morning and afternoons daily. If you want to even think about discussing a negative point about police enforcing school zones, then you are an idiot.
I must also add that actual speed enforcement is only a small area of enforcement in Highway Patrol in the NSW Police Force. We have many other duties that range from Heavy Vehicle Inspections, Random Breath Testing to criminal investigations involving arresting stolen vehicle offenders. I'm sure any car enthusiast can appreciate that. We all dislike the theft of someone's pride and joy as much as the next person.
If you like driving at extremely excessively fast speeds, take Murray Booth's advice and join a car club and go as fast as you want in controlled conditions. You'll learn a whole lot and have a blast doing it.
As for AutoSpeed, it is good to see you are not afraid to tell it how it is and show all sides to a story. It is also good to see a group of intelligent people who independently investigate and report on manufacturer's vehicles and products. I guess that's why I'm about to subscribe.
Name withheld by request
Plain Sailing - Not!
Some git stole my little Ford Laser on Wednesday so on Saturday I bought a $1000 EA Ford Fairmont. Trying to fit this much larger vehicle into my garage I realised the crates I was shoving about contained a disassembled 351ci Cleveland V8... all of this would much better fit in the garage if it was IN the Fairmont! Where might I find a really general article covering basic rebuild principles - what kind of people to talk to and where to find them, determining just how silly to go or indeed even if it's worth your trouble, etc?
We love DIY engine transplants but please take this advice: Sell the Cleveland V8 to someone with a ski boat - no-one seems to use them in cars these days! - and drop in an injected Windsor V8. Better still, sell the $1000 Fairmont and spend $8000 early-90s XR8 Falcon. It'll be less hassle and money! GT
Flip A Coin
I read with interest your review on the Lexus IS300. I was surprised by your verdict on the handling as NZ Autocar did a review of the BMW 330 and IS300 and came to the conclusion that the IS300 handled better. But the more powerful BMW engine tipped the scales toward the BMW. Can there really be that much difference between the Australian and NZ spec IS300? There is also about $30K price difference between the two in NZ! Good magazine, keep the technical stuff coming. Cheers,
He Likes It
I am very impressed with AutoSpeed. I have been on the email list for a few months now and have joined up for full access. I think it is quite rare that an online magazine such as yours can consistently come up with quality articles and such interesting and in depth articles. It is a credit to your team. I would much rather read your articles than Motor or Wheels magazine. Keep up the good work!
Toys For The Boys
I have some suggestions for future articles. I would love to see an AutoSpeed project car of some sort (there have been a few references to the creation a 1JZ-powered Cressida) as I love watching the week-to-week updates and problems that arise through the a project cars' development. I've noticed over the past few months AutoSpeed's trend to new car reviews and discussions of Original Equipment. This is different to the older AutoSpeed articles, which to me, seemed more focussed on car modifications, less conservative feature cars and DIY articles. Personally, I preferred reading the old AutoSpeed, and would like to see a swing back in that direction.
I've been involved with several major and minor car projects - they can be a joy or a heartache: It's great to see fresh technical how-tos based around a project car every week, but researching and sourcing parts, plus factors such as storing and towing a 'dead' car makes it quite a logistical exercise! But, gee - I
wouldn't mind a new plaything... Any suggestions, readers? GT
Getting It Right
In response to the email by Roger Canty regarding speedo ADRs, the ADR (government-implemented Australian Design Rules for new car manufacture) quite clearly states plus OR minus 10 percent for all speeds over 40km/h. I thought he should be put straight before any further misinformation is spread. Incidently, the ADR is 18/02 Part 126.96.36.199.2. Good luck with the new position!
Catch The Bus
I generally enjoy reading AutoSpeed. However recently it is becoming pedestrian. For example this month there are three road tests of standard road cars and an article on how a production engine is manufactured. Some of these articles are interesting but there are too many in one issue. Where are the how-to articles and reviews of modified cars?
On the way!
Tracking Falcon Straight
I recently purchased a new 2001 Falcon AUII SR Sedan. The car I owned prior to this was a 1993 ED Falcon Sedan, and I was reasonably happy with it. A few weeks after having the new car I noticed a strange issue where under acceleration, the car tends to veer slightly to the right, and so you have to compensate slightly by steering to the left. Even under cruise, if you take your foot off the accelerator, you find you have to steer slightly left again to compensate. Coasting hands off, it doesn't pull either way. I've found if I accelerate hard hands off, I can change lanes in about 80 metres, always to the right. Reminds me of torque steer in a FWD. I took the car into the dealer and demonstrated the issue, and they tried various things including swapping around tyres, tightening up the steering rack, giving it a wheel alignment. I've taken it back twice, and in both cases nothing they have done has had any effect. On the last occasion, they lent me the same model AUII, and it does exactly the same thing! So I don't think it's a specific problem with my car, but an issue with the AUII. I read quite a few reviews of the AU before buying and never saw any reference to this. I certainly didn't have this as a problem in my ED. Next time you take a drive in an AU, see if you notice it. I find it very noticeable, even though the steering movements required to null it out are quite slight.
Never noticed it in the AU Falcons we've driven but it might be worth spending a few of your own dollars to get a quality front-end alignment from a competent shop with experienced staff. It's always good to get another 'eye' to look at problems such as this. Check out "Pointing the Wheels" for some basics of wheel alignment.
I liked Michael Knowling's article with HSV's John Clark. Thanks for asking the 'tough' questions about engine reliability. We own a 2000 Holden Commodore SS with the Gen 3 engine, and have owned it for about eighteen months. We have experienced mechanical faults with our vehicle, and in my opinion, experienced appalling customer service from Holden, and in particular, one of the largest Holden dealers in Victoria. Our car has premature tyre wear on the rear tyres, and the suggested fix is to rotate the tyres regularly! This dealer has denied that the rear wheel camber was the cause of the tyre wear. I asked to see the service bulletin (Holden's internal document) that I know exists on tyre wear, and it was not provided. I can also confirm that our car has a serious oil consumption problem, requiring constant refilling. The old analogy of 'fill her up with oil, and top up the petrol" has almost become reality with our Gen III V8 engine The common Holden problem of leaking power steering fluid WAS fixed without complaint however.
The brake shudder was also fixed (by machining the discs), and the problem has returned again, which was to be expected, as the cause of the problem was not repaired, just a 'patch up job' to keep the customer quiet until the discs need replacing, and not under warranty, as they are a 'wear and tear' item. It is the attitude of the dealer principal that has caused me the most anxiety. He's been most unhelpful, and 'passed the buck' to Holden, suggesting further contact with the '1-800' phone hotline. The relationship deteriorated to a level that the dealership wanted to charge a fee for storage of the car until the dispute could be resolved, when I said that we would not pay a storage fee, The service manager threatened to 'push the car onto the street, and leave it there 'til we picked it up'. He said that they had the right not to repair the car, or assist with the warranty work that needed to be carried out.
I hope prospective Gen III V8 owners keep the problems we have experienced in mind when they are considering buying a Gen III-powered Holden. I really would not have minded as much if the dealer was helpful, and offered to fix the cause of the problems, but they had the most appalling customer service I have experienced in the last 10 years. Regards
What Do I Do Now?
My first reaction to the news that Julian Edgar would be leaving was to cancel my subscription, as I have been an avid reader of his articles since the Zoom days and I can't imagine anybody else being able to produce such good tech articles and road tests while still maintaining credibility, unlike so many other magazines. But after reading his latest and final "From the editor" I am willing to see how it goes as Glenn sounds like someone worthy of being on the AutoSpeed team. Good luck with TheTechJournal, Julian, and I thank you for years of entertainment and a wealth of knowledge. I look forward to seeing your occasional articles in the future and hope that the break from the modded car scene helps to rejuvenate your interest in it.
This One's Bigger
Gee, wow. Nizpro VU Holden ute ["Ute Beaut"] with 285kW Nice package, good article. I bet it would be awesome to drive. But imagine if some other bloke had an HSV Maloo with more than 400kW as his workshop ute with a blown 383 as the heart of the package. That's what they told me when I asked why his standard Gen III engine was sitting beside his ute with another motor and blower in its place. I bet that would WOW them.
383 cubes and 400kW? Is that all?! Stay tuned....
Hi AutoSpeed, I was reading your article "Killing Wastegate Creep". In the article Michael Knowling said that it wasn't as successful as with other VL Commodores, why was that? Were the other VLs modified with more boost? If the canister volume of 250cc was not enough, what volume is needed? The purpose with the 2? metre + canister is to act as a open wastegate but not pass limit of boost, so it should follow the line in the graph of wastegate hose off then level out to std boost 50kpa right? My VL has std boost three-inch exhaust and cold air intake. Any information would be appreciated.
The fitment of our overboost volume wasn't as successful as we've seen in cars other than the VL Turbo. The Holden's lack of a boost over-shoot (beyond its standard 50 kPa wastegate setting) boils down to the dynamics of the flow through its specific engine/turbo system - the different flow from the turbocharger compressor and the different 'swallowing capacity' of the engine. As you mentioned, it's quite possible a larger canister would have helped create a momentary boost spike. Unfortunately, though, the appropriate canister volume can be found only through trial and error - as a guide, we'd start off with a canister around 50 percent larger than the one mentioned in the story. Another option is to fit a variable restriction (ball valve) between the T-piece and the compressor outlet. A canister will certainly bring boost up faster, but it will not maintain the same rapid boost rise as when there is no wastegate pressure signal. The fastest possible way to build to a given boost pressure is to install a pressure relief valve in the wastegate hose, as discussed in "The Audi's DIY Boost Control - Part 1" MK