A DEBATE ON THE NEW ROAD TRAFFIC BILL

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A DEBATE ON THE NEW ROAD TRAFFIC BILL

The Toronto Brake Tests show that Braking Offences are 12i% of the Total of Motoring Offences for the Year.

ONE of the most practical contributions to the second reading debate on the new Road Traffic Bill, in the House of Commons on April 10th, was made by MT. Isaac Foot, M.P. He drew the attention of the Minister of Transport to the danger arising from defective vehicles, and made particular reference to the remarkable results achieved by the Toronto police, who, by imposing brake-tests, had succeeded in reducing road accidents by 50%. Among other things he said :— ” I understand that when the tests were applied in that city it was found that 81% of the vehicles were defective and could not pull up within the space allotted. As a result of three year’s experiment in braking tests Toronto has reduced the accidents in that city by 50%, and the boast now is that Toronto is the safest city in the world. All these facts, of course will be well known to the Minister in his Department. I have gone through such statistics as were submitted to me in this matter. I understand that the experiments started in 1928. In the first instance 81% of the vehicles were found to be defective and a reduction of accidents has been made to the extent of 50%.” , Speaking later in the debate Mr. Aled. Roberts M.P., said :

“I would like to support the suggestion with regard to brake tests. I attach a good deal of value to that suggestion. It is no use testing a brake after an accident has happened. If it is in order, nothing more is said, but, if it is not in order, the victim is dead. I think the Minister might give serious consideration to a test of that kind. A commercial vehicle under the Act which was passed last year has to be efficient, and there is no reason why a test of this kind should not be applied to ordinary motor vehicles. There are plenty of appliances for carrying out the test rapidly and efficiently without causing anybody inconvenience.” Still later in the debate, Mr. George Hall, among other things, said :—

“I certainly was very impressed with a portion of the speech of the Hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Isaac Foot). He referred to the fact that, however careful you might be concerning the driving of these vehicles, something should be done concerning the inspection of the vehicle itself. He specially referred to a report which came from Toronto, where it was said that upon an inspection it was discovered that 80% of the brakes of the vehicles that were inspected were defective, and, as the result of periodical inspections that took place, the condition of the vehicles was gradually improved and accidents decreased in a very short time by 50%, not because the driver had in any way improved, and not because of any legislation, but because precautions were taken as to the condition of the vehicles when they were taken out.” The results achieved by the Toronto

police department since they first instituted brake-tests in 1928, have been nothing short of remarkable, so that it may be well worth while to indicate how the Toronto brake tests have been conducted.

In the year 1928, when these braketests were first instituted, 8,000 motor vehicles were tested and 81% were found to have defective brakes.

The stopping distance for the foot brake was laid down as 37 feet from a speed of 20 miles per hour. So many cars Could not pass this test however, and so much opposition was aroused among motorists that the enforcement of this limit proved to be difficult. Thereafter a new standard was laid down ; namely 50 feet for the foot brake and 75 feet for the hand brake, and this is the standard in operation today, and which has now the full support of the motoring public. It is recognised on all hands that it has done much to eliminate a large percentage of the preventable accidents.

In the year 1929, 71,059 vehicles were tested ; which was after a good deal of publicity and many prosecutions for defective brakes ; and the defective brakes were brought down to IN-% for the year. In the year 1930, 114,883 vehicles were tested and the number of vehicles with defective brakes was reduced still further, the average for the year being 10%

The procedure is as follows. Any motorist can go to the Toronto Central Police Garage and have the brakes of his car or lorry tested free of charge. If they are found to be defective he is given 48 hours to have them adjusted or put right, after which time he must report to the police again. If his brakes are then found to be satisfactory no fine is imposed.

These tests are purely voluntary, but there are surprise compulsory tests too. When these are undertaken, mobile police officers are stationed in various parts of the city, and they are empowered to stop any car and test the brakes. If the brakes are found to be defective the driver is fined $10, and he is given 48 hours to have his brakes re-lined or adjusted. Failure to report to time police at the end of that time results in the issue of a summons and a further fine is imposed by the magistrate.

The Toronto police officials report that the moral effect of having brake testing going on all the time has been a tremendous aid to the public safety movement as a whole.

The striking results achieved by the Toronto police has led to brake-tests being enforced by other large cities on the North American continent, and the New York police have also paid special attention to the efficiency of brakes, though their procedure is somewhat different to that employed in Toronto. Braking standards and performance limits have been laid down by the Police Department. These are not enforced on the streets, but all vehicles involved

in an accident have their brakes tested. If they are proved to be defective a fine is imposed: rrespective of Whether they were a contributory cause of the accident or not. The brake testing meter that is used by both the Toronto and New York police is a British instrument, made by Tapley & Co., the scientific instrument makers of Totton, Southampton ; and it is marketed in this country by Messrs. Ferodo Ltd., the manufacturers of the well-known Ferodo brake and clutch

Braking limits are now imposed in most of the states of America, in Belgium, in Holland and Switzerland, in Rhodesia, Japan and Shanghai. In this country there is no precise standard of braking efficiency, the matter being covered by Section 63 of The Motor Vehicles (Construction & Use) Regulations of 1931 which states :—

” All brakes prescribed by these regulations shall at all timea while the motor vehicle or trailer is used on a road be maintained in good and efficient working order and shall be properly adjusted.”

That there is need for some official standard of braking efficiency in these islands is shown by the last return of Motoring Offences, issued by The Home Office in May, 1933. These showed that in 1932 the police brought 19,869 prosecutions; resulting in 14,937 convictions and fines totalling £10,949 7s. lid. ; for offences in connection with the equipment and maintenance of brakes.

These braking offences comprised 14% of the total of motoring offences for the year.

These figures, and the results of the Toronto brake tests show that spasmodic and casual attention to brakes is not enough. The modern motorist is beginning to realise that regular brake tests and systematic brake adjustment are necessary for his own safety in cases of emergency on the road. That is why more and more are adopting the habit of testing their brakes every 1,000 miles. The vital importance of this habit is stressed by Col. J. A. A. Pickard, the General Secretary of The National” Safety First” Association, who in a recent letter to ” The Times ” said :-

” The most effective cure for road accidents is improved road behaviour. Consequently, first and foremost comes the more effective use of mobile police, combined with continuous educational publicity. These have already proved their value. Two other important remedies which we advocate are (1) a uniform standard of non-skid road surface and (2) a high standard of brake efficiency and maintenance. If a higher standard of safety is to be achieved which public opinion demands, drivers, riders, and walkers must all submit to closer regulation, compulsorily if they will not do so voluntarily.”