Thoughts

Do you know there’s such a thing as an invisible bicycle helmet?

There is and it works.

I’ve always been annoyed by how bulky and ugly traditional bicycle helmets are, but then I’ve also fallen from a bicycle while not wearing one and it wasn’t pretty. This looks really good, sort of like an airbag for your head.

One question though, what do you do with it in warm weather, when you can’t wear it?

Via Likecool

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Thoughts

A crash test between a 1959 and a 2009 Chevrolet

In the 50 years since US insurers organized the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, car crashworthiness has improved remarkably.

Demonstrating this was a crash test conducted on Sept. 9 between a 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air and a 2009 Chevrolet Malibu, which you can see in the video embedded below.

In a real-world collision similar to this test, occupants of the new model would fare much better than in the vintage Chevy, which was surprising to me. I wash shocked to see that supposedly rock-solid car literally come apart at the seams, explosively, as if it were built of plastic. The crash test was conducted at an event to celebrate the contributions of auto insurers to highway safety progress over 50 years.

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Thoughts

How different dogs attack

This video from the National Geographic shows different breeds of modern dogs and how they attack their prey. Heavier dogs use their own body weight to bring you down, and lighter dogs build up momentum by running and jumping at you. The video also talks about bite strength and how head size affects it.

Takeaway lesson: do your best not to get bitten by a dog while it’s coming at you. Make it slow down or if possible, only bite you when it’s stationary. Or at the very least, avoid getting bitten by a mastiff. Those puppies pack a massive 500 lbs. bite. If one of them bites your hand, it will crush your bones and quite possibly sever a finger or two.


Dog Attack Styles from the National Geographic

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Thoughts

Are roadside trees a safety concern?

In Romania, many roadways are lined with trees. It could be walnut trees, or poplar trees, or fruit trees of some sort — the point is, they decorate each side of the road, standing guard, so to speak. I happen to think they enhance the beauty of the road, but I’ve heard talk of people who want to do away with them. They say they’re dangerous since drivers might run into them, as it happens every once in a while.

The road ahead

I recorded my own thoughts on the matter one day, while driving on a road in the province of Dobrogea. You can watch the video clip, or you can read on. My words and my voice both carry the same message.

I disagree. I don’t think the trees are dangerous. It’s the drivers who are dangerous. In the overwhelming majority of the cases where cars meet with trees, the drivers engaged in reckless maneuvers and were the very cause for the accident. Any trees that happened to be there simply drove that point home much more poignantly than some shrubs or an empty field ever could.

Thing is, Romanian roads, with very few exceptions, were built for low speeds. They were laid down during Communist times, when the car of choice (the only car, actually) was a Dacia — a relic of early 60s pseudo-design. It was underpowered, creaky — even when new — handled like a tractor hooked up to a blender engine, and stalled frequently in cold weather. If you managed to hit 100 km/h in those cars, it was definitely something. My grandparents had a Dacia 1310 model, and when that thing would get close to 100 km/h, it shook so badly I thought it’d fall apart.

Those were the cars that the road builders had in mind when they laid the roads and highways of Romania. The speed limit in the cities was and still is 40-50 km/h, and the speed limit outside the cities was 80-90 km/h. The latter has now been increased to 100 km/h. Problem is, people drive on these roads at 130-160 km/h or more. They just weren’t built for these speeds. The turns are steep, ungraded, sometimes unmarked, there are potholes most everywhere, and one often finds pebbles and mud on the roads from tractors that cross them to get to the fields, which makes braking on certain portions of the roads hazardous at best.

And yet, people just don’t get it. They think they’re somehow immune to accidents, until they lose control and run into a tree, often with disastrous consequences. Are the trees guilty? No. They simply point out the obvious — that the drivers themselves are to blame. If the trees weren’t there, I bet those same drivers would go even faster, knowing that if they ran off the road, they’d stop in some bales of hay or a wheat field. It would encourage even more irresponsible behavior.

A mountain road

I like the trees. Let them stay where they are.

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Thoughts

A rule of thumb to help you avoid accidents

So many traffic accidents happen when we don’t keep our proper distance from the cars in front of us. Here’s a simple equation to help you do just that:

Distance (in car lengths) = (Speed/10) – 1

Let me explain it. Say you’re going along at 20 mph — the distance between your car and that in front of you should be 1 car length. If you’re going along at 40 mph — the distance between your car and that in front of you should be 3 car lengths. Obviously, the formula given above is no good at speeds below 10 mph, so use your judgment there. I try to leave half a car-length to 1 car length between my car and someone in front of me, even if my speed is fairly low. I never know when they could brake suddenly. People’s actions can’t be predicted, and it’s best to have a little room for error in our calculations and reflexes.

I would go further and add an additional car length to that distance — in other words, modify the equation as follows, if you’re older and have problems seeing, if it’s dark, or if it’s rainy or foggy.

Distance (in car lengths) = (Speed/10)

If it’s snowing or it’s icy on the roads, by all means, drive slower and keep as far away from the car in front of you as you can. There’s no way to approximate distances in those situations. You never know just how your car will behave when you brake. Just hope you don’t have to brake on a particularly icy portion of the road, because you’ll skid all over the place, and chances are you’ll hit something.

MINI Cooper S on snowy country road

One additional word of advice. If you’re going to drive through snow, sleet or ice, make sure you’ve either got winter tires on your car, or you’ve got good all-season tires that aren’t worn out. And be sure that your brakes are in good working condition.

I don’t claim to be a traffic safety expert, so don’t think this rule of thumb is written in stone. See how my advice will work for you, and let me know if you think my equations need some adjustments. The idea is to keep the math simple so that everyone can understand and benefit from this.

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