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Articles on Automotive - Vehicular

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Speeding would seem like the most obvious safety compromise. Speeding would seem like the most natural remedy to a schedule too tight, and the most obvious way to pick up more passengers, increase system capacity and maximize revenue: Just drive faster.

Among all the safety compromises pandemic to the public transportation industry, wheelchair tipovers are, by far, the least common to the motorcoach sector compared to other services which deploy accessible vehicles. Of course, this is largely because so few wheelchair users travel by motorcoach.

This is a personal injury case in which a car windshield was smashed and the driver injured by a tire that "came off" a truck that the car was following on a high-speed interstate highway. The car driver was hospitalized and the car towed. The truck had one of its rear tires replaced and then departed the scene of the accident.

A London based arbitration process for breach of a contract to purchase tires brought by an International Earthmover Tire Manufacturer, plaintiff, against an International Mining Company, defendant. The Mining Company contractually agreed to order a specified number of tires or to pay 40% of the agreed selling price for any tires not ordered. This is referred to as a “Take or Pay” arrangement. The tire manufacturer contracted to produce tires that met the Tire and Rim Association OTR Handbook standards. The manufacturer did not guarantee tire performance, in terms of any performance measure.

In Part 1 of this series, I introduced the notion that roughly half of all public transportation-related incidents are the result of a deliberate trade-off of passenger safety for some system or owner's benefit. The most common benefit is the service provider's operating a schedule that is too tight.

This new National Bus Trader piece is the first installment of likely a year-long series about types of incidents that result from trade-offs of safety for other benefits -- adherence to unrealistically-tight schedules (or drivers running behind schedule) being the principal culprit. Frankly, of the more than 600 public transportation-related lawsuits in which I have served as an expert witness, roughly half of all incidents see to be the result of some deliberate safety compromise.

The past eight installments of this series covered a lot of ground -- some technical, but mostly socio-economic and conceptual. But in the debate over the pros and cons of human versus robotic drivers, is it not possible to have the wisdom to take the best of both worlds? In early articles I acknowledged some of the advantages of Highly-Automated Vehicles (HAVs), including:

What is interesting, and the focus of this installment, is the glaring disparity between the magnitude of information available about a vehicle or driver's performance and the general disinterest in examining it. This disparity is not a technological problem. It is largely an institutional and attitudinal problem. Or one might characterize it as a cultural problem. Or a values problem in a money-oriented society. Nevertheless, it raises an important point about driverless vehicles: While a vehicle's brain may contribute to and/or improve safety (fewer accidents and incidents) and performance (e.g., better mileage, less pollution), this brain's extraordinary analytical capabilities may be pointless because no non-robot is likely to ever examine the data.

When an asteroid strikes a planet, things tend to change quickly. Most other changes occur gradually, even while a small handful are occasionally more significant. These latter changes are sometimes referred to as "paradigm shifts," largely because they affect so many things around them, and cause such dramatic changes in the things they affect directly.

At the rudimentary level at which most crossing procedures are executed, schoolbus drivers are supposed to "direct" the students across the roadway when they are certain that either the traffic has been stopped in both directions or it is so distant (if even visible) that the students could easily complete their crossing before any oncoming vehicles reach the bus. The bus would obviously have its red flashers and stop arm engaged as a "fail safe."

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