A few months ago, a British organization that promotes safer roadways, issued a news release titled, “Hold your horses! How to pass horses safely on the road.”
“You may see more horses on the road during the summer months, and more than likely they’ll be on a country lane. Here are IAM RoadSmart’s tips on how best to pass a horse safely on the roads…” we were informed by IAM RoadSmart, which dates to 1956 and is England’s largest “independent road safety charity,” and has a network of local groups and businesses that conducts various road-safety campaigns, including driver and rider classes.
Someday might your grandchildren in their semi-autonomous transportation device be warned that, “If you’re approaching a human-driven old car from behind…
I’ll get to its suggestions about passing horses in a moment, but what struck me about that news release was that someday, some organization likely will be issuing a similar news release about how to pass vintage vehicles safely on the road.
The automobile is going through its largest transformation since petroleum-fueled vehicles pulled far ahead of steam- or electric-powered cars about a century ago. New technology and the growing concern about the Earth’s environment are tipping the scales not only in favor of electric vehicles, but toward a future in which vehicles won’t need human drivers to steer or stop them.
As the transition takes place from the current fuel-burning vehicle fleet to an electric-powered one, and from driver’s eyes on the road and hands on the wheel to semi-autonomous and eventually fully autonomous transportation pods, the use of vintage vehicles figures to be reduced, and perhaps even restricted.
Consider that in many communities, you cannot keep a horse except in certain areas zoned for such creatures. In an electrified transportation scenario, might there be legislation preventing the keeping of flammable-fueled vehicles except in certain areas?
Note that when the motorcar supplanted the horse as the primary means of human transportation, horses didn’t go away (though their numbers reduced, from around 21 million in the U.S. in 1900 to around 10 million today). However, their usage evolved from family necessity to a primarily recreational/hobby status. (Even cattle ranchers have replaced many of their horses with motorized all-terrain vehicles.)
“Horses are powerful animals and have extremely heightened senses,” IAM RoadSmart reminded motorists in its news release. “They are also ‘flight’ animals so if they become scared, they will revert back to their natural instinct.”
Might they say the same thing about those owning and driving vintage vehicles in the not-so-distant future?
The British group’s focus was on horses being ridden, but in parts of the United States — areas where people of the Amish faith and lifestyle reside — horses pulling buggies are commonplace on roadways. I used to live in Michigan and there are several Amish communities in the state, and each year there are horrible collisions between motorized and horse-drawn vehicles.
The British group noted that in 2018, 87 horses and 4 people died in car/horse collisions on British roads. Proponents of autonomous vehicles tout their belief that such vehicles can be programmed to avoid collisions, but because of the lack of modern safety equipment — let alone avoidance technology — in vintage cars, the likelihood of the occupants of those vehicles being injured or killed in a collision seems even more likely.
Someday, might your grandchildren in their semi-autonomous transportation device be warned that, “If you’re approaching a human-driven old car from behind… Slow down and hold back… Avoid any sudden movements and loud noises… When passing make sure you give plenty of space… Often when you see two old vehicles together it is for safety reasons. Give them some consideration.
“Keep an eye on the driver. They will often give you signals asking to slow down, stop or to overtake. They will acknowledge you and assist you to pass, but their main priority is keeping themselves and their vehicle safe, so they’ll be trying to keep their hands on the steering wheel at all times…”