Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Winter is here, and for cars and trucks it is no "Wonderland" - Part II

In my most recent blog entry, I made the point that the onset of winter in many parts of North America is a real bane to the drivers of automobiles and trucks. I don't think anyone would argue with that. Now I want to discuss a very viable solution to this problem.

Those of you who have read my blog for a while will be aware of the Aeroduct System that I have developed. This transportation system consists of air cushion vehicles gliding in lightweight guideways. It would be a far better way to travel than wheeled vehicles in the winter. Among the reasons are:

1. Air cushion vehicles do not require friction to hold their place in the guideway, nor to stop. Ice and snow greatly reduce friction, and the only way a tire can hold its place or be stopped is with friction. The vehicles in the Aeroduct System will glide right over the surface of the guideway, even if that surface is covered with snow or ice. To stop, the vehicles just reverse their thrust, and the slipperiness of the surface does not impede the halting of the vehicles motion, nor any reduction in speed. And, the guideways hold the vehicles in place laterally.

Automobile and truck accidents are far more frequent in bad weather than in more moderate conditions. One example is this one from Kansas:

Sedgwick County officials recorded 359 traffic accident calls to 911 between midnight and 4 p.m. today. That compares to 41 calls the day before during the same period of time.

1 of those involved a multi-car pileup involving five or six cars on Interstate 135 just north of the Kansas Coliseum.

Of course, these numerous winter accidents require police, emergency personnel, ambulances and tow trucks to work overtime.

2. But, accidents in themselves are not the most widespread issue. The great decrease in speed necessary in bad conditions to avoid accidents and the slowdown caused by accidents blocking lanes of traffic affect everyone travelling. Not only is winter driving more dangerous to drivers, it is often much slower, too. With the Aeroduct System, these bad conditions will not require slower movement of the air cushion vehicles, and there won't be a spike in accidents. Craft in the Aeroduct will move along just fine in spite of the slick surfaces, allowing everyone to travel as fast as any other time of the year.

3. Not only are people in cars and trucks at much more risk in slippery conditions, pedestrians, bicyclists and animals are as well. Since autos and trucks are on the same surface as other travellers on foot or bike, their inability to stop or to stay on course can be injurious or fatal to those other travellers. The guideways in the Aeroduct System will be raised above pedestrians and animals. Those travelling on foot or two wheels will have the ground surface to themselves, and will never be at risk from the air cushion vehicles above taking passengers to their destinations.

4. All the salt and sand that must be spread in order to enhance traction in the winter has a environmental impact. The benefit of reducing accidents outweighs the cost to the environment, but with the Aeroduct System, there will be no need for salting and sanding. Municipalities will save all that money they spend now, and the plants, animals and drinking water will benefit as well.

There is no reason that winter travel has to be a burden in most of North America - and of course, in other parts of the globe where winter means inclement weather. But, until we decide to replace automobiles and trucks on roads with air cushion vehicles in guideways, we will continue to experience winter as a season to dread. I invite all those who want to put an end to winter's menace for travellers to contact me and find out how the Aeroduct System can be implemented for the benefit of all.

In the next installment on this topic, I'll discuss efforts to improve wheeled transport in bad weather and why I think those efforts, well meaning as they are, cannot have the same success as the Aeroduct System.

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