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Driving At 159mph Is Safe

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Driving At 159mph Is Safe

Old 27th Aug 2006, 19:06
  #201 (permalink)  

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bjcc,

It doesn't get up my nose that the police are allowed to drive above the speed limit. As usual, you tend to pick up wrongly on my post. I'm aware of the situation with the requirements of police training, driving and to quite some extent the tactics used (I have been professionally involved in the not-too-distant past and generally have no qualms about any of it). However, it appears that this policeman drove at extremely high speeds outside the usual terms of such "training", in that he made the decision to take out a new car by himself and gave it a good thrashing in inappropriate circumstances and got caught. He has been prosecuted and convicted of dangerous driving, with the full agreement of his chief constable. Presumably you also disagree with him?

A few years ago another policeman colleague of mine was prosecuted after passing a speed camera at 100 mph in an unmarked police car (national speed limit applied). He also pleaded not guilty to no avail. Would you agree that he too should not have been prosecuted because he was a trained police driver? None of the other bobbies I worked with voiced the opinion that he should be let off.

How would you feel if a similarly competent and experienced but non-police driver was caught in the same situation as either of these drivers? I think I already know the answer to that.

Consider this analogy: I go to the police air support unit where I am directly employed and fly the brand new police helicopter at maximum speed and 50 feet agl when not directly on urgent police duties and therefore not, strictly speaking, exempted from the national low flying regulations. I would consider myself quite competent to fly in this manner as I am considered to be amongst the "creme de la creme" of the nation's pilots. I need to familiarise myself with the new aircraft's performance and handling. The chief constable considers that I should be prosecuted. If convicted should I appeal?
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Old 27th Aug 2006, 19:50
  #202 (permalink)  
 
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The chief constable considers that I should be prosecuted. If convicted should I appeal?
If you brief Flying Lawyer in the first place you probably won't be convicted, as he habitually makes mincemeat of the CAA.
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Old 27th Aug 2006, 19:52
  #203 (permalink)  
 
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ShyTorque

Firstly, I'm not sure that he did drive at:

'extremely high speeds outside the usual terms of such "training", in that he made the decision to take out a new car by himself and gave it a good thrashing in inappropriate circumstances and got caught'

What were the requirements to have training authorised at that time? None I suspect, the same as in my force. His decision to go out alone? Probably more that he was posted alone. (The issue of him being off duty is I understand rubbish). He gave the car a thrashing, yes, he did, thats the idea of the excersie. It's the only way to learn the ability and handling of the vehicle at all speeds.

Again, I refer to the former advanced course instructor, who said there was nothing dangerous about what he did, in other words, he was doing what he was taught.

You say you have first hand experience of Police advanced driving, then you would of course know that.

His prosecution was undertaken with the full agreement of his forces PSD, not the CC. The CC is the disciplinme authority and as he may have had to hear a discipline case against the officer, could not have had any dealings with the case before hand.

I can't speak for your friend who was convicted, I know none of the facts surrounding it beyond what you said.

There is legislation conerning low flying, as you are obviously aware. There is also legislation and case law in connection with Police vehicles and training at speed. You are therefore comparing apples with pears.

It may have been that he was as has been implied by some, playing. If it was the 10th time he had booked the car out, then yes, I'd agree, but it wasn't it was the first, so yes, I give the guy the benifit of the doubt, and until there is something that shows he wasn't doing what he should, famil, then I will assume he was, in the same way I would have done.
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Old 28th Aug 2006, 10:50
  #204 (permalink)  
 
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An experienced driver who knows what hes doing and who has good reflexes is a lot safer at 160mph (provided the car is stable at those speeds) than some of those prats clogging up the passing lane going 50mph and having to check their mirror 17 times before initiating a lane change that takes well over 2 minutes. If you catch my drift.

On long, straight, dry, and empty highways I have been well over 140mph and it was perfectly safe. Lets not forget that on a German autobahn this guy would have been free to go 160mph all he wants, and the slow driving jackass who got in his way would get the ticket.
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Old 28th Aug 2006, 14:53
  #205 (permalink)  
 
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bjcc

You seem to spend a lot of time defending the indefensible.

This guy was plainly out of line driving at that speed.

The thing that annoys 'ordinary' motorists, is that NO account is taken of circumstances, ability, time of day (or night), road condition, vehicle condition/spec etc for US! When the Gatso flashes- that's it. Done! Yet you seem very keen for those same circumstances to be applied in the case of the speeding plod- in order to excuse him.

I say- lock the idiot up.
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Old 28th Aug 2006, 15:16
  #206 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by brain fade View Post
I say- lock the idiot up.
Along with the Fire Brigade and Ambulance drivers

Ever noticed that whenever there's a serious accident, the Fire Brigade, Ambulance AND the Police are there in the midst of it.
And those signs 'Police Accident' . . .
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Old 28th Aug 2006, 17:46
  #207 (permalink)  
 
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Brain Fade

Why was he clearly out of line?

Perhaps you will answer the question everyone else avoids, what would you rather, more accidents involving Police vehicles, because the driver didn't know it, say, swerves left when you brake at speed? Or that the brakes stop working after 5 minutes of high speed driving and braking?

Was it not you who claimed that speed limits when you were caught, were inappropriate? Wasn't it you that got out of it by being less than honest? Certainly seems to be a case of pot calling kettle etc....

I am defending the practice of speeding in order to

A. Keep in practice, because as a former Police advanced driver, I know that when when you don't drive at speed for a while, I was no where near as safe when I returned to it. The road conditions appear to have been appropriate, and the instructor who viewed the tape and gave evidence said he could see nothing wrong, so I would say he did was not out of line.

and

B. Because unlike you, a police driver NEEDS to exceed the speed limits, and ublike the great speeding public most are responsible enough to make bloody sure they know how the vehicle reacts.

I use Police drivers as an expression, although of course it also applies to the other 2 main emergency services, who I would defend just as much.

Why don't I defend Joe Public? Well, because to be honest most of them arn't up to high speed driving, and certainly have no NEED to do it.

Neither the officer concerned, me, nor any other Police Officer makes law, and in fact Police Officers are not really involved in processing and prosecuting drivers (unless it is in connection with manual speed traps, or the result of an accident). So, don't attribute the blame for the lack of discression used in speeding cases to them.

As it happens, and painful though it is, I agree, there could be a degree of discression involved, if only by taking into account whats obvious from the photo, eg. Time of day of road surface condition.
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Old 28th Aug 2006, 18:51
  #208 (permalink)  
 
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s_s
I prosecute/defend 50/50. There are quite a few people who'd disagree with your assessment of my approach. (Including some who won't be released from prison for many years yet, if ever.)
I'm not saying the PC in this case shouldn't have been prosecuted, nor whether his conviction was right or wrong. I don't know enough about the evidence, in particular the road and road conditions where his speed reached 159 mph.
I've prosecuted many 'Death by Dangerous Driving' cases over the years. I never have, and never would, argue that the driver's speed (however high) was in itself dangerous. I have, of course, argued that the speed was too high for that stretch of road at that time in those conditions and thus dangerous.
______

I disagree with those who think driving at 159 mph is necessarily dangerous driving - whether the driver is a policeman or not. It may or may not be depending upon the circumstances.
I can think of several roads where a short burst at that speed or even higher wouldn’t be remotely dangerous to other road-users, even though illegal. eg The M74 (and A74M) North of the England/Scotland border has some wonderful stretches through the mountains which are either completely straight or with long sweeping bends where you can see for miles there’s no other traffic on either carriageway, or where the two carriageways are separated, some distance apart and at different levels. The road is often deserted in the very early hours of the morning. Exceeding the speed limit? Yes. Dangerous driving? No other road-user is endangered, so not dangerous driving IMHO.

IMHO, a driver's skill/experience/qualifications etc (or lack of) should be one of the factors taken into account when deciding if what he did amounted to Dangerous Driving. (I don't think it can, or should, be a factor in ordinary speeding cases.) I'm not suggesting a special rule for all policemen, nor even for advanced Class 1 police drivers. IMHO, the same principle should apply to all drivers accused of dangerous driving.
Although the law isn’t entirely clear on the point, the prevailing view is that the driver’s skills are irrelevant. If the PC in this case pursues an appeal on that point, we'll have the position clarified by the Court of Appeal. I suspect he'll lose, but it won't change my view about what the law should be.

I accept of course that there are places/conditions where a speed is dangerous regardless of whether the driver is Joe Bloggs or a world-renowned F1 or rally driver.

I agree with S_S’s comments about police high speed training under the supervision of an instructor. I don't think there should be a blanket authorisation allowing police constables to do ‘high speed training’ above the speed limit at their own discretion as and when they wish.
Even if it's permitted without an instructor in the vehicle, it should require prior authorisation each time by at least Sergeant rank. In addition to the reasons s_s has given, it would prevent some PC claiming after the event that he was ‘training’.

I was amused to see points being taken by the defence in this case about the accuracy of the speeds recorded by the onboard camera equipment. Some years ago, I prosecuted a police advanced driver charged with dangerous driving following a collision with another vehicle during what he said was a pursuit. (There was some dispute about whether he was in pursuit at the time, or trying to find a suspect vehicle which he’d lost.) The defence team went to great lengths to show the speeds recorded on the camera weren’t accurate. It struck me as ironic then, as it did this time, given that the speeds are regarded as sufficiently accurate to prosecute members of the public. In my case, it was eventually shown that there was a tiny delay (< 1 second, I think) between the picture shown and the speed displayed. I was happy to concede the delay/inaccuracy; at most, it meant he was travelling at 3-4 mph less than the speed displayed by the camera when he crashed, under braking, head on into another vehicle.
I actually felt sorry for him, even though he was a traffic policeman. He was driving a crime car at the time and got carried away in enthusiasm to catch a suspected thief. But, as traffic police are inclined to say when ignoring pleas from motorists, I was doing my job.

bjcc
I stand by my views about the Manchester PCs who breath-tested both pilots following the complaint by the woman passenger about the landing.
Bias? You know I'm not anti police. I'm critical of some police conduct and some police officers' attitudes.
Criticism on the basis of Press reports?
There was indeed widespread criticism/questioning of the constables’ actions, such that Greater Manchester Police issued a statement: “On Sunday, January 16, 2005, police officers at ManchesterAirport breathalysed a pilot and co-pilot after a female passenger on an inbound flight expressed concern about their conduct. Both tests proved negative and no further action was taken. Neither member of the flight crew was arrested. All incidents reported to GMP are treated seriously and investigated thoroughly.”
The incident has come up in a number of threads but, if anyone’s interested, the original discussion is here: http://www.pprune.org/forums/showthread.php?t=160845
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Old 28th Aug 2006, 19:28
  #209 (permalink)  
 
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FL

Authorising training by a PS?

Why? A constable is authorised to make most decisions alone, it's one of the principles of the policing system, so why then force that decision onto someone who may or may not know the capabilities?

What are you suggesting the PS Authorises? Practice? or excessive speeds?

Where does that leave the Sergeant when this next happens? Where does it leave the PC? I was only following orders insn't a defence. So what does it achieve?

I can see the sense in a PC telling his control room thats what he is going to do, but not of having to have it authorised.

I did not intend to imply you are anti Police, as you say, I know you are not. I do feel you are quick to do what you accuse others of, jump to critisise where you don't know all the circumstances, the Man incident being a case in point.
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Old 28th Aug 2006, 20:12
  #210 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by bjcc
I can see the sense in a PC telling his control room thats what he is going to do, but not of having to have it authorised.

Back in the days when I listened in to their radio, Essex police used to authorise (or not) all such activities from the duty Inspector in the control room.

Is this not universal practise in the UK?
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Old 28th Aug 2006, 20:37
  #211 (permalink)  
 
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FrostBite

No, there wasn't a common policy, I say wasn't only because I would imagine ACPO will now, if they haven't, introduce one.

As I said above, a PC is quite capable of making his own decisions, and, in spite of the way TV fiction portrays, they usually do. The instruction, often seen by a senior Police Officer on TV, 'Officer arrest that man' is more usually followed by the answer '[email protected]@k off', you want him nicked, you do'
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Old 28th Aug 2006, 22:06
  #212 (permalink)  
 
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bjcc

Authorising training by a PS? Why?
Because I think the exemption in Section 87 of the RTRA 1984 (as amended by para 42 Sched 4 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005) which exempts police and other specified emergency service drivers from complying with certain road traffic laws should be restricted to immediate operational purposes, instructor-accompanied training of drivers in high speed driving skills and expressly authorised practice.

In ordinary language, I don't think constables (Advanced drivers or otherwise) should have carte blanche to drive in excess of the speed limits as and when the fancy takes them in the name of training or honing their skills. The route and time should be approved and authorised in advance by a supervisory rank.
I take your point that some supervisory ranks may not be able to make an informed decision. Perhaps the power to authorise should be limited to the traffic Inspector (or Sgt) for the area.

A requirement for prior authorisation would also prevent them from claiming after the event that they were training or honing their skills. (I accept that informing the control room in advance would also achieve that part of the objective.)

What are you suggesting the PS Authorises? Practice? or excessive speeds?
Practice (unaccompanied by an instructor) on public roads at speeds in excess of the speed limit(s).

I did not intend to imply you are anti Police, as you say, I know you are not.
This is was what made me think you were saying I was:
.... you arn't exactly unbiased in your opinions either, witness the attack on the Man Officers who breath tested 2 pilots, on the basis of a press report (many others of which you are happy to caution the accuracy of) you condemed thier actions.
I based my opinions on Press reports and the statement subsequently issued by Greater Manchester Police - quoted above. (We argued this on the other thread.)


I'm surprised by the final para of your response to frostbite.
The instruction, often seen by a senior Police Officer on TV, 'Officer arrest that man' is more usually followed by the answer '[email protected]@k off', you want him nicked, you do'
Do you really claim that PCs say that to senior officers?

I'm also surprised because I deal with many cases in which the decision to arrest a suspect or suspects was made by the senior CID officer in charge of the investigation.
On occasions, they have made a decision to arrest following my advice that there's sufficient evidence to do so, and telephoned their team in front of me to give instructions. I've never heard of anyone telling them to '[email protected]@k off' and do it themselves.
Similarly, when uniformed PCs support CID on a raid of premises, it's by no means unusual for the senior officer in charge of the raid to decide which of those present should be arrested on suspicion of a particular offence. I've never heard of any of the support team refusing and, when I see the witness statements, many from uniformed PCs simply say they took part in the operation, arrested X on suspicion of (whatever) offence, conveyed him to (whichever) police station, produced him to the custody sergeaant and took no further part in the investigation.




FL

Last edited by Flying Lawyer; 28th Aug 2006 at 22:33.
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Old 29th Aug 2006, 06:07
  #213 (permalink)  
 
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FL

Thank you for clarify the points.

My, and I would suspect many other constables objection to your suggestion would be that we are responsible enough to drive at that speed in anger, but arn't responsible enoughy to decide when and where to practice.

However, I do take the point made by Slim Slag that there is a perception issue involved, hence my suggestion that a better way is to inform the officer's control room. As you say that satisfies part of what you suggest.

Traffic Supervisors would possibly have even less idea of the circumstances and capabilities of what was called a Divisional Officer. For example, at my first station although we had a Traffic Unit based on our Sub Division, we had no real dealings with them.

You have not answered the issue concerning what happens if having been authorised, the driver then finds himself facing prosecution. It may be the speeds he practiced at were would still be considered 'eye watering'. But of course even though he, working on your suggestion, authorised to practice, he would still be liable for conviction for it. The authorising officer of course would not be liable.

My example was perhaps bad, in that I was trying to demonstrate the scene often seen on TV where a PC is only there to cart the accused off on the whim of the main charater DI, is not reality, and that PC's are responsible for ensuring they have enough evidence to justify arrest, not just on the say so of an officer above thier own rank.

Yes, I have seen the situation I discribe, in so many words. And yes, I have declined to arrest on the instruction of an Inspector, because I was not satisfied there was sufficent evidence.
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Old 29th Aug 2006, 07:06
  #214 (permalink)  
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I put quite a lot of thought into my original post p3 #45 and can not really better it, except for going over the technicalities in a little more detail. I did make comment about the higher attainable speeds in modern cars, but I didn't really spell out the physics.

When the police Volvo passed me on that narrow road, he was AT LEAST two and a half times the speed limit. As I implied, probably for fun.

Most ppruners will know that doubling the speed, gives the mass 4 times the energy, but not all are clear just what this can mean for the modern car. It is my argument that these new high speeds are unacceptable on modern roads in a car that is really just an improved saloon.

The very nature of these new levels of energy is difficult to put into perspective. The old ‘stop in nnnn feet' really is meaningless, since most people wouldn't have the faintest idea what these distances look like while traveling at 159 mph., or even a modest hundred. A whole new set of physical rules apply.

Firstly, the gyroscopic effect on the wheels becomes very significant and as some may remember, the forces are precessed through 90 degrees before effecting a force on the suspension. At these speeds the suspension will be coping with forces way outside its design parameters, and the way it copes, is in reality, testament to the overall good design, but it simply can not be relied on to function correctly under these complex loads.

The traction, at any moment just a few square inches of very hot rubber, will have to cope with these new energies. At these speeds the equations are so complex that designer and driver alike will be unaware of the exact processes taking place. Remember, this is a car made to drive sportily at the most, not one to compete with F1 technology, that has millions spent analyzing telemetry. Even with that incredible expenditure, some of the feedback is totally unexpected.

As the speed rises, so reliance on luck will play a greater and greater part in the progress, and no amount of training will turn this modest vehicle into a race car.

This complex string of variables is continuously having its datums altered, by weather and changes in driving techniques for example. The calculations become impossible to process, so progress is made with a certain skill...and a lot of luck. It is the reliance on luck that is unacceptable.
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Old 29th Aug 2006, 10:37
  #215 (permalink)  
 
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bjcc

I don't doubt many constables would object to my suggestion re prior authorisation, but that doesn't change my view.
By analogy, some constables are trained in the use of firearms and deemed sufficiently responsible to be allowed to use them "in anger". That doesn't mean they are allowed to decide for themselves when to carry them, or when and where to practise. NB: That's just an analogy. My proposal doesn't depend upon it.


You have not answered the issue concerning what happens if having been authorised, the driver then finds himself facing prosecution.
See the first para of my previous post.
The driver on prior authorised practice would come within Section 87. ie He would be exempt from complying with some road traffic laws, but would not be immune from prosecution for dangerous driving - any more than a driver responding to an emergency call is immune.
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Old 29th Aug 2006, 13:53
  #216 (permalink)  
 
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bjcc

The reason he was 'out of line' as I put it, is because 159mph is way too fast! It's too fast to practice at and it's too fast to use even in a high speed pursuit. I don't think it matters how well trained the driver is. There is plenty of scope for a big accident NO MATTER how well trained the Police driver is.

What worries me about this loony is that although it may have been relatively safe at the time he was caught- he plainly was practising (having a bit of fun more like) so he knew how the car would behave in, say a high speed pursuit. I'm only one person but I'd rather not have the cops or anyone else on the road at 159mph, thanks, no matter how good they think they are. Especially when the blood is up in a hot pursuit. There are plenty of people killed every year by Police cars involved in accidents.

I agree with FL's suggestion that high speed trips (but not up to this speed) should be pre authorised. or at least pre notified.
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Old 29th Aug 2006, 14:00
  #217 (permalink)  
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There are MANY cars available (to the general public), including saloon cars, capable of 155mph (limited by the manufacturer). It is possible to unlock this limitation and even to buy unlimited models. Current 'maximum' for some cars is 200mph, although there was at least one capable of 230mph. Such speed are legal in some territories (including parts of Germany) and I don't suppose their highways are significantly different to those in the UK.
So are these motorists (regularly) driving dangerously? Why don't the authorities in those Countries arrest and charge these offenders. (Come to think of it, HOW would they catch them if their Police were limited to '120mph'?)

Last edited by G-CPTN; 29th Aug 2006 at 14:12.
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Old 29th Aug 2006, 14:34
  #218 (permalink)  
 
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G-CPTN

I've driven a lot in the Fatherland and as I remember it, even on the unrestricted sections, 130kmh was the recommended limit. If there's a whoopsie and your speed is over 130kph, it's your fault.

Also due to high speed of overtakers, lane discipline is shit-hot. Not really like that here, is it?
To do 159 in the UK you need the road to yourself. It's too fast for a chase unless you and the chased are the only cars on the road.
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Old 29th Aug 2006, 14:42
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Surely, if you are going to 'practise' in a car you have not driven before, 86 in a 30 area is not the place to do it - irrespective of the time of day. Oulton Park is not a million miles from Telford and would give this idiot the chance to discover how the car handles without risk to the public.
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Old 29th Aug 2006, 14:51
  #220 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by brain fade View Post
even on the unrestricted sections, 130kmh was the recommended limit.
Times have obviously changed. Probably as a result of re-unification. Recall driving on one of the 'original' Autobahns in East Germany in 1989. You know the ones made from rectangular basalt blocks. Occasionally you would meet a missing block laid some distance from its socket. From memory they were about 9 inches cube. Destroyed TWO new tyres on that trip (car was new too). No problem in getting Brand-matching replacements (well that's what it said on the tyre sidewall).
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