N332 July 2016

Intelligent Road Signs

A new wave of road signs is being installed across much of the main road network in Spain, all part of a multimillion euro investment scheme to make the roads safer.

Intelligent Signs have been installed in one of the most problematic areas in terms of congestion which both monitor the flow of traffic on the roads and then communicate with each other to warn approaching drivers of queues ahead.

The standard P-31 warning sign
Sensors monitor traffic flow
The sensor then sends the information to the signs

The signs receive the information
This sign then illuminates and flashes
Under normal conditions the sign is blank

These sign groups have two units; one which is the detector, the other the receptor and warning sign. When traffic flows freely the signs look like a black square, but when traffic is detected, the square displays an electronic version of the triangular P-31 road sign, warning of congestion, with flashing orange lights to attract attention.

In other areas of Spain a number of junctions have already had warning systems installed which tell drivers on the main carriageway that there is a vehicle at a junction ahead on a minor road likely to join or cross the flow of traffic. Sensors built into the road, similar to those used to monitor traffic flow, make aware of the presence of a vehicle at the junction. They are able to identify the size and type of vehicle and then send the information to the warning sign located on the main carriageway.

This is known as "sistema de advertencia dinámica en intersecciones", or "dynamic junction warning system", commonly known as "V2V".


Tyre Safety Checks We Can All Do

Tyres are often neglected, despite the abuse they can face on a regular basis. On a daily basis they are worn down through normal use and have to withstand heat and cold and are often damaged by potholes and kerbs.

It is important that our tyres have sufficient tread to enable them to maintain contact with the road surface in any weather conditions. The grooves in the tyres are used to displace surface content to ensure the tyres grip the road.
The minimum tread depth of a tyre is 1.6mm across the central ¾ of the tread around the complete circumference of the tyre. Many vehicle manufacturers recommend replacing at 3mm. At 1.6mm in wet weather it takes an extra two car lengths (8 metres) to stop at 50mph than if your tread was 3mm. Over or under inflated tyres will cause uneven wear, so the tread might also be uneven.

Check tyres on a regular basis. Get close to the tyre and look at each one of them separately. Firstly, feel around each tyre with your hands, including the sides, feeling for anything that doesn't seem correct, such as bubbling or even items protruding from the tyre. It is possible for a tyre to contain a nail, plugging the hole it has made and so deflation can be very slow.

As we look around each tyre we should also check the tread. If the tyre is under-inflated then there may be more wear towards the edges of the tyres. If a tyre is over inflated there could be more wear in the centre. You should also look within the tread pattern for ridges between the tread. These are called the Principle Grooves and are indicators of tyre wear.

Check each tyre individually, including the spare, to make sure that the tread wear is consistent and sufficient. Also check the tyre pressure. Most modern vehicles have a plate stuck on or near the door, which indicates the optimum pressure under normal driving conditions. You should always check tyre pressure when the tyres are cold.

The tyres contain a series of numbers and letters which reveal a wealth of technical information. The tyres your vehicle is fitted with are registered on your ITV card, although you can change them for another size with a tolerance up to 3%. If you look at the side of the tyre you will see a sequence which looks something like this: "195 / 55 R 16 87V".
"195" refers to 195 millimetres, the nominal section width of the tyre.
"55" is 55%, the aspect ratio, representing the height of the tyre sidewall as a percentage of the nominal section width, i.e., in our case, 55% of 195mm.
"R" stands for radial construction.
"16" is the diameter of the tyre´s inner rim, this time in inches.
"87" is the load capacity of the tyre.
"V" indicates the maximum permitted speed.

Another code stamped onto the tyre reveals the month and year of manufacture. For example, a code "4108" indicates that the tyre was manufactured in week 41 of the year 2008. There are many cheap tyres on offer for sale which, when you look closely, might well be very old tyres. The recommendations are that tyres should be replaced at least every 5 years, so you might not be aware that you are replacing your tyres with those already older than the recommendation.


Proper Use of Seatbelts

Seatbelts are designed to save lives. Statistics show that by wearing a seatbelt the probability of death when involved in a collision is halved and the risk of death is cut by a staggering 77% in an overturned vehicle.

The correct way to wear the seatbelt is for it to go across the torso diagonally and across the waist, firmly secured in these positions. The top part must be on the hard part of the collarbone, halfway between the shoulder and the neck. The lower end sits against the hardness of the pelvis. The three-point seatbelt, which is fitted as standard to most modern vehicles, has an upper (thoracic) and a lower band (pelvic). Both must be snugly fitting against the body. For the seatbelt to offer maximum protection it must be on hard parts of the body, leaning against the collarbone, halfway between the shoulder and neck at the top, and the iliac crest of the pelvis, never on the abdomen.

Accessories such as cushions or other additions should not be used.

Once you have pulled the seatbelt across your body and secured the strap in the locked position, make sure that the seatbelt is not twisted at any point. Pull the seatbelt so that it fits snugly against the body, with any slack being taken back at the top. If the upper band is taken off the shoulder, it can result in a head impact with the windscreen, dashboard or seat in front. It can also produce cervical lesions. If the belt is not firm around the body it can cause the vehicle to slide under the belt, causing lower body and spinal injuries. Occupants must sit in a proper position when riding in the vehicle.

Remember; one seatbelt – one seat.

All vehicle occupants are obliged to wear a seatbelt, both in front and back seats. Some vehicles only have two seatbelts in the back, so that vehicle can only carry two passengers on that seat.

Children under 1.35 metres in height are not allowed to travel in the front seats and they must use an appropriate restraining system for their height and weight.