Raysrust - Safety on the Road

By Ray Hinnant

If you are planning a road trip, there are some things you need to remember. Remember that your speed will be slower than the modern cars on the road. The slower you go, the faster the car driving 80 will come up behind you. The following table will help you determine this risk.

Your speed (mph) Their speed(mph) Closing time for mile
40600 min 45 sec
40700 min 30 sec
40800 min 22 sec
52601 min 53 sec
52700 min 50 sec
52800 min 30 sec

Even in the best weather and light driving conditions and you are driving 40 mph, the approaching driver going 80 mph only has 22 seconds to make a decision to pass or slow down if you have just gone over a small hill and there you are enjoying your Model A. This is why I watch my rear view mirror constantly when driving the Model A. Now, add night driving and rain and 20,000 Aggies coming back to school after Thanksgiving break. Oh, and also add just one small taillight that is much smaller, dimmer, and lower than the average driver is used to seeing on the road, and your stress level will definitely increase. Add to all this cell phone usage and texting, you really do need to drive defensively. I realize that a Model A was not designed to run modern speeds although some will do that all day. So, what can we do to make night driving (and daytime driving) a little safer?

First, keeping your speed close between 50 and 55 will give the approaching vehicle a few more seconds for their minds to realize that an antique automobile is ahead and going slower that they are. Be sure and keep your steering, tires, and brakes in as good a shape as possible.

Second, improve your lighting. Headlights can easily be improved by converting to 12 volt or adding halogen lights. This will help oncoming traffic, but remember that the ones behind you pose more of a risk than the ones in front (assuming they stay in their lane). Most of the Model A parts dealers carry a special brake light that you can add by strapping to your spare tire. This helps since the brake light on a Model A is amber and folks are definitely looking for a red light when someone stops. The add-on brake light is good, but you still have the single (or double) standard Model A tail lights. These lights are a foot or lower than the average car on the highway and fairly small compared to new modern cars.

One fix for this is to purchase a set of towing lights with magnetic bases. They are fairly simple to hook up to the existing Model A wiring harness under the left side of the rear end. This will give you larger and brighter tail lights and brake lights. I attach mine to the trunk lid when I am going to drive at night and then just put them in the trunk during the day so that the car will look original. If you have tudor or 4-door, they could be put on the rear fenders, or as Mel suggests, strap down a 2 inch piece of thin steel on the trunk and mount the lights to the steel plate. These lights will give approaching cars from the rear extra lights higher than the original ones (the original ones still work) and give you an added protection to reduce the probability of a rear-end collision. I have trailer lights already hooked up to the wiring harness so it is really easy to plug in the towing lights, mount them on the trunk lid and hit the highway.

Enjoy your Model A and get it out on the highway. It's great fun. See you down the road.

Animation courtesy of Millan.net.



Brazos Valley A's


Ray Hinnant is a member of the Brazos Valley A's, a vintage Model A Club located in Bryan-College Station, Texas.


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