aside Monday mutterings 02/2017

or ‘stop cutting in! I left that gap for a reason!’

Upon our return from holiday, the dogs needed to be collected from their holiday home. This entailed a 3.5 hour drive one way and then because road conditions deteriorated so much, the return journey home stretched to 4.5 hours.

The main freeway that connects Helsinki and Turku was 80 km / hour for the entire 150 odd kilometres. (Usually it’s 100 in winter and 120 in summer.) I knew we were in for an interesting drive, when at the beginning of the freeway I was passed by buses, tanker trucks as well as the usual speedsters – generally driving German cars – although that could be a generalisation 😉 The road speed signs all clearly indicated 80 km / hour. There was no way that you could mistake the numbers for anything else.

Never mind that all the road speed signs showed 80 kms per hour. Never mind that the road / air temperature signs showed slippery conditions (air and road both hovering around zero). Never mind that it was dark and a little foggy. Never mind that Mr. 17 and I couldn’t agree on the music to listen to.

I try to drive for the conditions – I really don’t want to drive into the back of someone nor do I want someone to drive into me. So, I set the cruise control to 80 and the gap between my car and the one in front to be the longest. I can do this because my (our) car is super smart. It can adapt the speed I drive at (when cruise control is set) to maintain the gap no matter what the speed of the car I am following. When they speed up I speed up (to the limit I’ve set), when they slow down, the car slows and the gap stays the same. Brilliant. Imagine if every car on the road had this. It would be almost impossible to rear end anybody.

Except there are currently very few models that use this radar technology. So in the mean time I just have to keep my distance. Except cars pass me and then slide into the gap that I’ve purposely left – my turvaväli (safe distance) becomes not so safe. I know I’m not alone having this complaint. It seems that some Finns like to drive really close behind you and then when they pass they leave the bare minimum when coming back into the lane. Needless to say, I was quite happy to arrive home that night. You might wonder why I am so worked up about my turvaväli. Read on – icy roads make for lousy stopping conditions 😦

Traffic safety have great infographics on their page for all manner of road safety topics. (Remind me to talk about reflectors one day!). The infographic below shows how stopping distances increase as the road surface goes from:
dry (3 seconds / 50 metres) to
snowy (8 seconds/ 105 metres) to
icy (16 seconds / 187 metres) when travelling at 80 kms and having a one second reaction time.

Stopping distances at 80 km/h
Stopping distances at 80 km/h – note the difference ice makes! Picture credit: Liikenneturva / http://www.liikenneturva.fi

It’s almost enough to make you not want to drive – except I quite like driving 🙂

In the meantime, please stay out of my turvaväli!

If you are not used to winter or difficult driving conditions and in the interests of keeping our roads safe please have a read of this article: https://www.liikenneturva.fi/en/road-safety/difficult-road-conditions and then play the animation (in Finnish) for stopping distances http://extrat.liikenneturva.fi/pysahtymismatka-auto/fi/
First select your speed and road conditions and then press Aloita (start).
Your car starts moving and then stops (the driver notices that ahead there is an obstacle ahead) press Jatka (continue).
Now one second passes and the car travels x metres at your chosen speed before braking commences Jatka (continue).
Your car will stop and then you’ll see how long it took and how far you travelled to stop Jatka (continue)
The last information is total time and distance including your reaction time. I tried this at 120 km per hour on an icy road. In 23 seconds my car travelled 404 metres before coming to a stop. Scary.

What’s your biggest beef with other road users?

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