Re: [SystemSafety] Nissan's new Indian car unsafe

From: Inge, James Mr < >
Date: Tue, 11 Nov 2014 16:12:37 -0000


Merging a couple of recent topics on the list, a few years ago I had the interesting experience of a cycling holiday in India. This involved riding through built up areas like Delhi and some of the Rajasthani cities, as well as sections out in the countryside where the sight of a westerner on a bicycle, wearing a helmet, was still something worth running across several fields to see at close quarters.  

In the cities, the traffic was very chaotic compared to what I am used to (even in Bristol). Lots of noise, poor quality roads, free-ranging livestock, vehicles of a huge range of build standards from hand carts to modern tourist coaches travelling in all sorts of different directions, in very close proximity. However, the melée was characterised by low speed and people paying attention to what was happening around them. Horns were sounded a lot, but the meaning seemed to be "here I am, take notice of me" rather than "get out of my way". While I saw lots of broken down vehicles, I didn't notice any accidents, which compares favourably with my experience in European cities (e.g. on the occasions I've visited Italian cities, I've seen more scooter accidents than I would have hoped for the length of time spent in the country). One could speculate that with lower access to healthcare, the consequences of accidents have more impact on the individual than in Western cities, and people might take more care. However, it could just be that the volume of traffic is a limiting factor on speed, and any reduction in accident rate just a beneficial side effect.  

Out in the countryside, it was a different story. While the by-ways had relatively little traffic, the main roads were busy and relatively fast, and there was lots of visible evidence of accidents: either collisions between vehicles, or vehicles coming off the road and rolling into ditches or colliding with stationary objects. Many of the casualty vehicles were trucks. I noticed one local safety feature: many of the trucks had a large reflective warning triangle attached to the front windscreen. Our guide said that these were due to many of the drivers having poor, uncorrected eyesight. With lower traffic levels in the countryside, the mix of vehicle types became a more significant hazard, with faster, more capable vehicles having to swerve and avoid livestock, animal drawn carts and slow, overloaded motor vehicles.  

In the low-speed urban and rural environments, I can see the argument that a "flimsy" vehicle may not be a huge disadvantage from a safety point of view, and that such a vehicle being available at low cost may reduce risk in other ways. However, I wouldn't wish to drive such a vehicle on the faster main roads, where it would stand a much higher chance of getting hit by a heavier vehicle or forced off the road.  

As a cyclist, driving a very flimsy vehicle, I normally wear a helmet, and did so on the Indian tour. This seemed to be a great novelty to the locals, and while there were lots of bikes about I didn't see anyone helmeted outside our group. However, in the low-speed environment, they seemed very appropriate to mitigate the risk of falling over at low speed or while stationary, due to poor road surface and/or being jostled in the crowds. Along with the rest of the party, I survived the trip without injury, although getting caught in a camel jam near Pushkar was quite an experience!  

            James Inge  


From: systemsafety-bounces_at_xxxxxx Sent: 08 November 2014 13:13
To: Peter Bernard Ladkin
Cc: <systemsafety_at_xxxxxx Subject: Re: [SystemSafety] Nissan's new Indian car unsafe  

Perhaps we have less accidents (and also more rules and engineered solutions) simply because we're 'safer', e.g more cautious, as a society and as individuals. We just seem to confuse cause with effect.  

If as John Adams argues a developing countries death rate from cars accidents is essentially independent of the design of the cars or the rules on the local statute books, then you could argue exactly the same in reverse about developed countries. Say we filled London with jitneys, scooters and motorized tri-shaws, if we take John's theory to its logical conclusion the fatality rate still wouldn't budge.

Matthew Squair  

MIEAust, CPEng

Mob: +61 488770655

Email; Mattsquair_at_xxxxxx

Web: http://criticaluncertainties.com

On 8 Nov 2014, at 7:45 pm, Peter Bernard Ladkin <ladkin_at_xxxxxx                  

        On 2014-11-07 21:54 , José Faria wrote:                  

        Sadly enough, rule of law for some people/organizations seams no more than a getaway for

                tremendously stupid acts.         

        Personally, I wouldn't rush to judgement on the efficacy of such a (to us) flimsy vehicle.         

	The most obviously dangerous feature of traffic in many countries is not the construction of the
	vehicles but the carefree driving behavior. This is particularly true in this vehicle's target market.
	
	There are plenty of people there whose normal mode of transport for self+spouse+kids+wares+goat is a
	small motorcycle. I see many reasons why the occupants would be better off with four wheels instead
	of two and minimal shelter from the environment. The goat would likely be happier, and the market
	wares stay dry when it rains. If you make the vehicle collision-resistant, then that might well
	encourage the driver to be more assertive in the traffic melee (what John Adams calls risk
	homeostasis if I remember rightly) and many of them doing it would render the roads even riskier for
	pedestrians and two-wheeled-vehicle riders than they are at the moment.
	
	As I think Mike Ellims once wrily noted, it has been suggested that a huge contribution to road
	safety anywhere could come from a mandatory sharp spike mounted in the steering wheel pointing right
	at the driver! :-)
	
	PBL
	
	Prof. Peter Bernard Ladkin, Faculty of Technology, University of Bielefeld, 33594 Bielefeld, Germany
	Tel+msg +49 (0)521 880 7319  www.rvs.uni-bielefeld.de
	
	
	
	
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