When crossing railroad tracks, look both ways and scamper across fast

BBC

At least 37 people have died after being hit by an express train while crossing the tracks at a remote train station in the Indian state of Bihar, local officials say.

The passengers, mostly Hindu pilgrims, had just alighted from a local train at Dhamara Ghat station and were on their way to a temple in Saharsa district.

An angry crowd is said to have beaten the driver and set two coaches on fire.

Rescue operations are under way and police reinforcements have been sent.

Senior state police officer SK Bhardwaj said it was difficult to say how many people had died as many bodies had been dismembered.

 

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The incident took place at 08:40 India time [03:10 GMT]. The pilgrims were hit by the Rajya Rani Express travelling on the opposite track.

Railway officials said the express train was travelling at high speed as it was not expected to stop at Dhamara Ghat station.

But after the accident, it stopped a few hundred metres away. An angry mob then pulled out the driver and severely assaulted him.

More police have been sent to the area but the region is extremely remote and inaccessible by road.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has expressed grief over the incident and ordered district officials to the scene.

India’s state-owned railway network is vast – it operates 9,000 passenger trains and carries some 18 million passengers every day.

A government-appointed safety panel in its report last year said about 15,000 people were killed each year crossing train tracks in what officials describe as “unlawful trespassing”.

Autonomous Race Car Crashes Before It Starts

A future filled with autonomous vehicles got a temporary setback this week when a self-driving race car drove directly into a wall before crossing the start line. The spectacular fail took place during the live broadcast of the Roborace autonomous-vehicle race series. Swiss-based Acronis SIT Autonomous fielded the directionally-challenged car, which sustained significant damage in the wall crash. The team was not immediately able to determine the cause of the vehicular mishap.

Why Almost Everyone in Russia Has a Dash Cam

Wired

How is it possible that a dozen different motorists around the Russian city of Chelyabinsk were able to capture video of a massive meteor flying through the sky? Because almost everyone in Russia has a dash-mounted video camera in their car.

The sheer size of the country, combined with lax — and often corrupt — law enforcement, and a legal system that rarely favors first-hand accounts of traffic collisions has made dash cams all but a requirement for motorists.

“You can get into your car without your pants on, but never get into a car without a dash cam,” Aleksei Dozorov, a motorists’ rights activist in Russia told Radio Free Europe last year.

Do a search for “Russia dash cam crash” in YouTube — or even better, Yandex.ru, the county’s equivalent of Google — and you’ll find thousands of videos showing massive crashes, close calls and attempts at insurance fraud by both other drivers and pedestrians. 

A combination of inexpensive cameras, flash memory and regulations passed by the Interior Ministry in 2009 that removed any legal hurdles for in-dash cameras has made it easy and cheap for drivers to install the equipment.

And it’s turned into an online phenomenon.

YouTube content policing means some of the most disturbing videos get pulled from U.S. video sites almost immediately, but as Marina Galperina reported at Animal New York last year, sites like the Ru CHP LiveJournal community are filled with disturbing videos of profanity-laden fist-fights, massive crashes and gruesome deaths, all captured on camera and shared for the world to see.

But then there are times like today, when dash cams catch a once-in-a-lifetime meteor falling from the sky, from every possible angle — something that couldn’t have happened just a few years ago.

Very Smart Flying Car

The Terrafugia TF-X is an autonomous flying car under development by Boston-based Terrafugia. The TF-X seats four passengers and uses an engine combined with two electric motors for propulsion. Unlike the previously proposed Transition, the TF-X is capable of vertical take-off and landing by extending its retractable wings attached with pusher propellers while aerial thrust is provided by a ducted fan at the rear. It will be able to fit in a single car garage.

Powered by two plug-in hybrid 600-horsepower electric motors and a 300-horsepower fuel engine, the TF-X is planned to have a flight range of 500 miles (805 km) with a cruising flight speed of 200 mph (322 km/h) without the need to refuel or recharge. Road speed is currently unknown.

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Capacity: 3
  • Powerplant: 2 × TFX POD Hybrid Electric, 670 hp (500 kW) each

Performance

  • Range: 430 nmi (500 mi, 800 km)

The ‘Can-Opener’ bridge in Durham, North Carolina

 

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At 11 foot 8 inches, the Norfolk Southern–Gregson Street Overpass, located in Durham, North Carolina, United States, is a bit too short. The federal government recommends that bridges on public roads should have a clearance of at least 14 feet. But when this railroad trestle was built in the 1940s, there were no standards for minimum clearance. As a result, trucks would frequently hit the bridge and get its roof scrapped off.

Durham resident Jürgen Henn has been witnessing these crashes for years from across the street where he worked. Wishing to share these hilarious mishaps with the rest of the world, Henn set up a video camera in April 2008 and began recording them for his ever popular website 11foot8.com. By the end of 2015, more than one hundred trucks had their tops violently ripped off. These scalping videos, which are also available on his Youtube channel, have racked up millions of views bringing this particular bridge —nicknamed ‘the can opener’— a fair amount of international fame.

 

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As Jürgen Henn explains in his website, the bridge cannot be raised because doing so would require the tracks to be raised for several miles to adjust the incline. North Carolina Railroad doesn’t want to pay for the enormous expense it would entail. The bridge cannot be lowered either because there is a major sewer line running only four feet under the street.

Instead, the city authorities installed an alert system that detects when an over-height truck tries to pass under and flashes yellow warning lights several feet ahead of the bridge. But many drivers either do not pay attention or fail to heed the warning, and crash into the bridge. The railroad department, who owns the bridge, installed a heavy steel crash beam in front of the bridge that takes most of the impact, protecting the actual structure of the train trestle. This crash beam is hit so often that it had to be replaced at least once.

As far as both parties are concerned —the city of Durham and North Carolina Railroad— adequate steps have been taken to solve the problem. The railroad authorities’ concern is with the bridge and the rails above, not the trucks. Hence, the beam. The city, on the other hand, has posted prominent “low clearance” signs from 3 blocks away leading up to the trestle, over and above the automatic warning system that is triggered by vehicles that are too tall.

Apparently, these measures are not enough to prevent accidents. On average there is one crash every month.

When Henn interviewed a few drivers as they deflated their tires to lower their vehicles enough to free them, some told him that they didn’t know their trucks’ heights, while others insisted they didn’t see the signs.

Durham officials are now trying out a new tactic. A few months ago, they installed a traffic signal at the intersection before the bridge, and hooked up the height sensor to it. When an over-height truck approaches the intersection, the light turns red, and stays red for a long time. The light eventually turns green, but the city hopes that the long delay will give the drivers enough time to realize their truck will not fit under the bridge. Unfortunately for the drivers, and to the delight of the rest, the bridge continues to shave the tops of over-height vehicles.

 

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Automobile safety tips from decades past

Popular Science magazine had many articles devoted to automobile safety back in the 1930’s, 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s.  The car explosion in those decades revealed many problems and concerns as cars became bigger and faster.  Many of the tips Pop Sci brings up from back in the day could be utilized in today’s world of mass automobile use.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Keep your eyes on the road!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

 

If this cover image doesn’t terrify you into driving safely, we don’t know what will. According to the illustrator, driving 30 miles and hour is as dangerous as driving on the roof of a building.

Manitoba Public Insurance should start preaching these same basic rules.  I don’t know about the one of suspecting every pedestrian of suicide.

1. Learn to judge the conditions of the road and the drivers. 2. It isn’t how fast you can go, it’s how fast you can stop. 3. Keep one car length between you and the car in front of you for every 10 miles on your speedometer. 4. Suspect every pedestrian of suicide. 5. Every intersection is a crash point, so slow down. 6. Signal properly. 7. Expect the worst from the other car.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Get those brakes checked regularly

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Speed limits in certain States back in 1960 was 30 mph.  That would be about 52 kph.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Keep those tires up to date and checked out regularly

1955 Lincoln Futura: the concept car that would become the original Batmobile

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The Lincoln Futura is a concept car promoted by Ford’s Lincoln brand, designed by Ford’s lead stylists Bill Schmidt and John Najjar, and hand-built by Ghia in Turin, Italy — at a cost of $250,000 (equivalent to $2,200,000 in 2016).

Displayed on the auto show circuit in 1955, the Futura was modified by George Barris into the Batmobile, for the 1966 TV series Batman.

The Futura’s styling was original by 1950s standards — with a double, clear-plastic canopy top, exaggerated hooded headlight pods, and very large, outward-canted tailfins. Nevertheless, the Futura had a complete powertrain and was fully operable, in contrast to many show cars. Its original color was white, and was one of the first pearlescent color treatments, using ground pearl to achieve the paint effect. The Futura was powered by a 368 cubic inch Lincoln engine and powertrain; the chassis derived from a Continental Mark II.

The Futura was a success as a show car, garnering favorable publicity for Ford. It was released as a model kit and a toy, and in a much more subdued form its headlight and tailfin motifs would appear on production Lincolns for 1956 and 1957, such as the Lincoln Premiere and Lincoln Capri. The concave front grille inspired the grille on the 1960 Mercury Monterey and the 1961 Ford Galaxie.

 

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The Futura played a prominent part in the 1959 movie It Started with a Kiss, starring Debbie Reynolds and Glenn Ford. For the movie, it was painted red, as the white pearlescent finish did not photograph well.

The concept car was subsequently sold to auto customizer George Barris. Having originally cost $250,000, the Futura was sold to Barris for $1.00 and “other valuable consideration” by Ford Motor Company. As the car was never titled and was therefore uninsurable, it was parked behind Barris’ shop, sitting idle and deteriorating for several years.

 

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In 1966 Barris was asked to design a theme car for the Batman television series. Originally the auto stylist Dean Jeffries was contracted to build the car for the show in late 1965, but when the studio wanted the car faster than he could deliver, the project was given to Barris. With the short notice, Barris thought the Futura might work well, and using Jeffries’s initial car, decided that its unusual winged shape would be an ideal starting point for the Batmobile. Barris hired Bill Cushenberry to modify the car’s metalwork. Barris went on to build three fiberglass replicas using the frames and running gear from 1966 Ford Galaxie cars for the show circuit, three of which were covered with a felt-like flocking finish in the 1970s. Barris later acquired a fourth replica, a metal car built on a 1958 Thunderbird.

Barris retained ownership of the car, both after its conversion to the Batmobile, leasing it to the TV studio for filming and after production of the TV series ended, displayed in Barris’ own museum in California. It has also been displayed in the Cayman Motor Museum on Grand Cayman Island.

Barris sold the Batmobile to Rick Champagne at the Barrett-Jackson collector car auction on Saturday, January 19, 2013 in Scottsdale, Arizona for US4.62 million dollars.

 

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