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Need for speed: why some speedometers lag behind reality

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A UNSW road safety expert breaks down the truth about why speedo readings can be different from GPS measurements.

Need for speed: why some speedometers lag behind reality

 

UNSW 

A UNSW road safety expert breaks down the truth about why speedo readings can be different from GPS measurements.

Have you ever noticed how sometimes the display on your vehicle’s speedometer is different from the speed shown on the navigation app on your phone?

You’re not alone. And it’s all to do with ADRs.

The Australian Design Rules (ADRs) – set by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications, and the Arts – are the national standards for road safety and specify how a car should be designed and made fit for purpose when it’s sold in Australia.

According to the ADRs, car manufacturers are prohibited from under-reporting a vehicle’s speed. As a result, vehicle manufacturers often calibrate the speedometers at the factory so that it reads above the actual real speed of the car.

Road safety expert, Emeritus Professor Michael Regan, says most manufacturers do this to avoid any chance whatsoever the car might be travelling at a speed that is higher than the reading on the dashboard.

“ADRs require a speedo tolerance of zero per cent under to 10 per cent above the actual speed, so manufacturers typically set it at about five per cent over,” Prof. Regan says.

“This means the speedo is likely to read 100 kilometres per hour when, in actual fact, your real speed is 95 kilometres per hour.”

What determines your speedometer reading 

The displayed speed that you’re travelling on the road is determined by the vehicle’s tyres, says Prof. Regan.

“Speedometers are calibrated to read based on the rate of revolution of the car’s power train. This, in turn, depends on the tyres and it’s usually on a set of new tyres of a certain circumference,” he says.

“When the manufacturer carries out speed calibration tests, they’re based on brand new tyres.

“But over time, as the tyres experience normal wear and tear, they get smaller in circumference. This changes the accuracy of the reading of the speedometer – again showing a higher speed than the actual speed.

“So if you’ve had tyres on your car for a long time, and the tread on the tyre wears away over time, that means that the wheels are revolving faster than they would be if your car was fitted with brand new tyres.

“So as your tyres get older, your speedo actually overestimates your speed so you might think you’re going faster than you actually are. In any case, if the tyres are worn enough to make a noticeable change to the speedo reading then it is likely time to replace them.”

What about my speed on my GPS?

Many drivers use mobile navigation apps which also measure and display the speed being travelled within the interface.

But unlike the speedometer, these apps take advantage of global positioning satellite (GPS) technology to calculate speed by determining the time taken to travel a given distance.

As a result, the GPS speed is often hailed as being more accurate than the car’s speedo, says Prof. Regan.

“While there may be a very short time lag as the GPS calculations re-adjust, it’s so insignificant that drivers probably won’t notice it,” he says.

“If you’re driving on a flat, straight road, the GPS is likely to be more accurate than what’s displayed on your speedo.

“However, if you’re going up or down a steep hill, the actual speed (for example, as measured by Police mobile radar) will usually be greater than the GPS value but proportional to the steepness of the road you’re travelling on.

“It is the change in elevation, relative to the GPS satellites circling above, that results in the error. Horizontal bends do not affect it.

“In theory a clever GPS device could account for the road steepness and adjust the displayed speed so it is more accurate. However, this is a relatively rare situation and there is no strong justification for navigation devices to make this adjustment. Drivers should just bear this factor in mind when driving on steep roads.

“To be absolutely sure how fast you’re driving, you need to know how much the car’s speedo is out by.”

So why don’t vehicle manufacturers use the GPS navigation system that is inside virtually all modern cars to calibrate the speedometer more accurately?

Prof. Regan says current regulations do not require or encourage it.

“In the future, I hope this changes, because drivers would want the most accurate reading to know how fast they’re actually going. This feature could also automatically adjust for tyre wear and replacement tyres.”

Radar speed feedback signs

Radar speed signs are used for traffic management of road projects or in school zones and display your speed as you approach and drive past.

If you’re driving at or below the speed limit, you’ll often be rewarded with a smiley face or your speed displayed on the screen. However, if you’re driving over the speed limit, a sad face or sign telling you to slow down usually appears.

Radar speed feedback signs use radar systems to measure the time taken between the sending and receiving of the radar signals from a car at one point and this time difference is converted into distance.

The process is repeated again, and the radar speed signs calculate the new distance. The speed is calculated based on the two different distances and this is then displayed on the sign.

Prof. Regan says some drivers may find that the detected speed can be different from the one showing on their speedometer.

“It’s just the way they’re set – just like how our car’s speedo is usually higher than the GPS speed,” he says.

“These radar speed signs serve as a reminder for us to assess our speed as we approach areas with changing conditions – especially near zones where there may be more construction workers using the road.

“In some studies, radar speed signs have been shown to be highly effective in reducing speeds and increasing the number vehicles adhering to the speed limit in the areas installed.

“The public nature of having your speed displayed for everyone to see makes you more accountable.”

A UNSW road safety expert breaks down the truth about why speedometers readings can be different from GPS measurements.

A UNSW road safety expert breaks down the truth about why speedo readings can be different from GPS measurements.

Intelligent Speed Adaptation

Prof. Regan says the important next step in car safety technology is implementing intelligent speed assistance (ISA) systems, which have been shown in numerous studies to be highly effective in reducing speeding, and speed-related crashes.

ISA relies on GPS and/or built-in cameras on the car to detect and read traffic signs and lets the driver know in real-time what the speed limit is. ISA systems come in two basic forms. Advisory ISA systems can issue a warning to the driver if they exceed the speed limit. Such systems have been in existence for more than two decades.

“More advanced limiting ISA systems can physically prevent the vehicle from exceeding the posted speed limit; like a conventional speed limiter, but a more intelligent one,” he says.

“Like adaptive cruise control, the driver is always in control and can easily override the ISA system.

“This is just another example of how systems can be implemented to improve road safety because the reality is that sometimes drivers can become distracted and miss changes in speed signs, or simply not realise that their speed has creeped up.”

Through its star safety rating system, the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) has encouraged fitment of these speed assistance systems for more than a decade, and assesses vehicles based on the presence of ISA and its performance.

But ANCAP is a voluntary program and there is no equivalent requirement in the mandatory ADRs.

From July 2022, the European Road Safety Charter made it mandatory for all new models of vehicles entering the European market to be fitted with advisory ISA.

Prof. Regan says: “Europe is leading the way in this area by implementing this new rule.

“If Australia wants to get more serious about road safety, we need to bring this system to the market permanently.”

Speeding is never safe

Each year, speeding contributes to about 41 per cent of road fatalities and 24 per cent of serious injuries in New South Wales alone.

Prof. Regan says that just because our speedometers are calibrated to overstate our speed, this does not give the green light for drivers to engage in excessive speeding.

“All drivers must obey the road signs to ensure the safety of all drivers and pedestrians who use the road,” he says.

“I think most people don’t realise that driving even a couple of kilometres over the speed limit greatly increases the risk of a serious crash, which can have devastating consequences.

“For example, half of all serious crashes involving a vehicle travelling at five kilometres per house over the speed limit would been avoided, or would not have resulted in injuries or fatalities, if that vehicle had been travelling at the speed limit.”

 

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GOLD COAST AIRPORTS ONGOING SUPPORT FOR FEMALE RUGBY LEAUGE

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Gold Coast Airport and Tweed Seagulls

GOLD COAST AIRPORTS ONGOING SUPPORT FOR FEMALE RUGBY LEAUGE

 

The collaboration between the Tweed Seagulls Women’s team and Gold Coast Airport has been a cornerstone of the team’s identity since its inception in 2019. Gold Coast Airport has proudly held the front-of-jersey naming rights sponsorship for the team since they joined the QRL statewide competition, and this partnership has evolved into a mutually beneficial alliance.

In anticipation of the 2024 BMD Premiership season, Gold Coast Airport and the Tweed Seagulls Women’s Team have announced the extension of their valuable partnership. Gold Coast Airport (GCA) played a pivotal role as the founding sponsor, igniting the Tweed Seagulls’ mission to promote female rugby league in our region. Six years on, their commitment to this cause remains steadfast, contributing to the sport’s rapid growth in female participation.

Built upon shared values and a vision to empower local female athletes, the partnership provides a platform for them to excel both on and off the field.

Brendon Lindsay, CEO of Tweed Seagulls, eagerly welcomed the return of Gold Coast Airport as the team’s major sponsor for the 2024 BMD season, expressing gratitude for their unwavering support over the past six years. Lindsay looks forward to nurturing this enduring partnership in the years to come.

Gold Coast Airport and Tweed Seagulls

left to right: Jasmin Morrissey – BMD Cup player: Brian McGuckin – Chief Property & Planning Officer Queensland Airports: Brendon Lindsay – CEO Tweed Seagulls: Tarryn Aiken – BMD Cup player and Australian Jillaroo

Brian McGuckin, Chief Property and Planning Officer of Queensland Airports Limited, echoed this sentiment, expressing GCA’s delight in renewing this significant partnership with Tweed Seagulls. He emphasised GCA’s longstanding commitment to supporting women in sports, a cause they have championed for years.

The participation of Australian Jillaroo legend Tarryn Aiken and Australian PM XIII star Jasmin Morrissey, both part of the Tweed Seagulls lineup for the 2024 BMD Cup, created excitement at the season’s kickoff.

Beyond business ties, the partnership between Tweed Seagulls and GCA extends into the community, advocating for inclusion and diversity. Both organisations are dedicated to creating a welcoming environment for individuals from all backgrounds and promoting equal opportunities.

A portion of Gold Coast Airport’s sponsorship is allocated to the Tom Searle Scholarship, supporting young athletes in their academic or professional endeavours. By endorsing this scholarship, GCA reaffirms its commitment to nurturing local talent and enhancing the community’s well-being. The recipients of the Tom Searle Scholarship will be announced at the 2024 Ladies Leaders in League Breakfast, scheduled for Wednesday, May 15th.

 

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Harwood tighten grip on minor premiership

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Aiden Tredinnick doesn't mind launching the ball to and over the boundary and has a licence to thrill when he resumes batting on 14no on Saturday.

Harwood tighten grip on minor premiership

 

By Tim Howard

Harwood looks to be in a prime position to snare the minor premiership in its first year back in the Clarence River first grade cricket competition.

After rolling Tucabia Copmanhurst for just 109, Harwood replied to be 1/60 at the end of day one at Harwood Oval.

In contrast its closest rival, Lawrence, has a contest on its hands against reigning premiers GDSC Easts, which racked up 6/196 from just 50 overs.

Tucabia’s modest 109 could have been worse except for innings of 37no from veteran Matt Pigg and 24 from Travis Anderson.

Dean Carroll, who smote 260no before Christmas for Harwood’s Lower Clarence first grade team, showed his talent with the ball opening the bowling and snaring 3/30.

He made two early breakthroughs and returned later to pick up the dangerous Matt Dougherty for 11.

Brothers Ben and Jacob McMahon picked up a pair of wickets as did the other opening bowler Troy Turner.

At 1/60 and with a wealth of batting in the sheds Harwood need only to snare first innings points to take the minor premiership.

Opener Maison Simmons is unbeaten on 29 and Coby Tabor is with him on 15no when play resumes on Saturday.

Lawrence, the only team to keep pace with the front runners this season, seem certain to take second spot.

They are in a battle with Easts at Lower Fisher Turf, Grafton.

Aiden Tredinnick doesn't mind launching the ball to and over the boundary and has a licence to thrill when he resumes batting on 14no on Saturday.

Aiden Tredinnick doesn’t mind launching the ball to and over the boundary and has a licence to thrill when he resumes batting on 14no on Saturday.

After a lean couple of games with the bat Easts all rounder Shannon Connor found form on Saturday with 70 from 92 balls.

His innings with five fours and a six was relatively sedate compared to his usual fireworks and has put his team in a highly competitive position going into day two.

Sean Walters with 36, Tom Gerrard, 24 and Matt Lobsey, with 20, all helped get the total competitive before players were forced to leave the field due to lightning and rain delays.

Big hitting Aiden Tredinnick is at the crease on 14no with Ted Lobsey, also on 14no.

They will be looking to get their score well past 200 and give their bowlers a formidable target to defend.

At Ellem Oval Souths Westlawn and Coutts Crossing also had to contend with the storm that hit Grafton on Saturday, with Coutts racking up 6/143 on the back of a stylish 72 from Lewis Chevalley.

Souths Westlawn legspinning all-rounder Brenden Cotton was the best of the bowlers with four wickets for 29 runs.

Chevalley and opening bat Tim Tilse 26, combined for an 88-run first wicket partnership that ended when Cotten bowled Tilse.

Four more wickets tumbled for the addition of 30 runs.

Coutts will have 11 overs to build on their total, although South Westlawn’s indifferent form with the bat in recent games might suggest they are in a comfortable position.

 

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Supporting Seniors Amid the Transition to a Cashless Society

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Supporting Seniors Amid the Transition to a Cashless Society

Supporting Seniors Amid the Transition to a Cashless Society

 

As the prevalence of cashless transactions continues to rise, concerns about the impact on seniors and their ability to access essential services have come to the forefront. While banknotes remain legal tender, the increasing preference for card or mobile payments by businesses poses challenges for older Australians, who may rely heavily on cash for their day-to-day transactions.

The recent incident involving Queensland Federal Member, Bob Katter, highlights the frustration faced by many seniors when attempting to use cash for purchases, only to be met with resistance from establishments that accept only electronic payments. This trend towards cashless transactions has been exacerbated by factors such as the shift towards online shopping during the pandemic and the closure of bank branches and ATMs.

For seniors, the transition to a cashless society presents significant challenges. Many may not have access to mobile phones or may lack the necessary technological skills to navigate electronic payment systems. Concerns about additional fees associated with card payments, as well as the potential for power outages disrupting digital transactions, further compound these challenges.

Supporting Seniors Amid the Transition to a Cashless Society

As the prevalence of cashless transactions continues to rise, concerns about the impact on seniors and their ability to access essential services have come to the forefront

While businesses have the right to specify their preferred payment methods, it is essential that consumers are informed of these terms and conditions before making a purchase. However, it is equally important for businesses to consider the needs of all customers, including those who prefer or rely on cash for their transactions.

Looking ahead, the transition to a cashless society may continue to accelerate, with some experts predicting its completion by the end of the decade. However, this does not mean that cash will become obsolete entirely. Instead, it is essential to strike a balance between digital and cash payments, ensuring that all individuals have access to the payment methods that best suit their needs.

In supporting seniors during this transition, it is crucial for Australians to “pay it forward” by using cash where possible, thereby sending a message to government, banks, and businesses that cash remains a vital form of payment. Additionally, businesses should prioritize customer service and support initiatives aimed at increasing digital literacy among older Australians, such as the Be Connected Program.

By working together to address the challenges posed by the transition to a cashless society, we can ensure that all Australians, including seniors, have access to the payment methods and support services they need to navigate an increasingly digital world.

For more information and support, visit the Be Connected Program website.

 

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