For Immediate Release
ST. JOHN’S, NL (June 21, 2019)
By: Mike Aylward
Targa: Is it Safe?
Safety is a subjective term.
Safety can be about time. Safety can be about accepting risk.
I think safety is about taking responsibility for your actions.
No doubt, “safety” and “safe” are subjective terms. They tell us it is “safe” to get on an airplane travelling at 1000+ Kph at 35,000+ feet in the air. Really. Mmmhmm. And if they lose their propulsion system? Or the “autopilot” puts them into a dive… What safety protocols kick in then?
I can confidently state I feel much ‘safer’ travelling at 90 miles per hour, a few feet above sea level, in my own vehicle; one in which I can also personally vouch for its operational integrity. We put much trust in others when travelling commercially.
Getting in my Mustang and hammering it around a few turns is not something I would consider unsafe. Now were I about to take an Olympic ski jump at 85mph or enter a UFC ring, or even get on one of those aforementioned airplanes and skate up to around 35,000 feet… I might say a few hail whomevers. I have no control and therefore feel the risk is higher.
I guess it boils down to the fact I much prefer to be in charge of my own fate. To me, anything else is just not safe.
So can we actually measure, how “safe” something is? Can we really compare planes, trains, and automobiles? And then, when they are out of control?
They have been telling us for years that flying is the safest mode of travel. However in my mind, if there IS an incident; your chances of survivability, are basically nil; certainly if you are a mile or two up… Skydiving? Same deal. Not for me nope. Bungee Jumping? Nada.
Point being, what I consider to be safe, may not be the same as the person sitting next to me.
Another example… I was watching the news the other night, and a Newfoundlander made it to the summit of Mt. Everest. Wicked job buddy! But you wouldn’t catch me doing it. Nooo, sir. Did you see the caravan of dozens of people on those teeny tiny ledges of snow and ice? Fellas beating past each other to get to the very top? And then many had to step OVER a deceased climber to get down out of it? Sweet honourable frosted tomatoes in the garden bys… SAFE? I’ll take my chances at 200kph in a steel cocoon under my own control any-day.
Air travel safety statistics are not really directly comparable to automotive safety anyway, as there is no “likelihood of injury vs death” metric for us to use.
Much of the focus in automotive safety is survivability. We know there will be crashes, no matter what variables we manage to control… So the industry has placed more of a focus on helping drivers and passengers, race officials and spectators all; make it to the end of the race injury-free. Airline safety is not about survivability, it is about preventing catastrophic system failure. So their research and development dollars are probably not going into the seat restraint systems or safe spectator algorithms. Safety has a different foundation in that industry.
As with everything, history has taught us much about safety. But not without cost.
Auto racing got its first big safety wake-up call in 1955 at the 24 hrs of Lemans. After a collision with another car, one of the vehicles left the track at over 100+ mph and careened into the spectator stands. Over 80 people were killed. It was the worst crash in history.
After that, public and sponsor support for auto racing significantly dropped so aficionados started forming clubs and organizations dedicated to standardizing safety protocols around drivers/vehicles, spectators, and races. Eventually, significant progress was made in terms of safety of the spectators and events but the risks to the driver, have never fully been eliminated.
When the tires ultimately break loose on a Targa car, we know exactly how the machine is going to behave under most circumstances. Ninety-nine percent of the population has no idea how their vehicles will react in emergent types of situations or maneuvers. We practice them. I feel safe when this happens.
There are both average speed limits, and maximum speed limits enforced across all Targa classes during competition. Targa class also requires full roll cages, racing harnesses, fire suits and other special safety equipment. Driver and vehicle are about as “safe” as they can be, during Targa Newfoundland.
Every year Newfoundland Motorsports offers its competitive driving school where entrants are trained in the finer points of safety and racing specific to Targa Newfoundland events. I can personally attest, it is an excellent school and Targa Newfoundland’s (already excellent) track record has been improving steadily since its inception.
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Targa NL Media:
Be a smart spectator.
Stand at least 10 meters from the road.
Choose high ground.
Never stand on the outside of a turn.
Never stand behind red tape.
Always stand – Never sit down to watch.
Did you know Targa-class requires:
- Full roll cages equipped in cars
- Fire suppression system or multiple fire extinguishers
- Flame retardant nomex racing suits, gloves and shoes
- Recently certified (within 5 years) Snell approved helmets
- HANS Device (Head and Neck Support)
- Multi-point harness restraint system
- Underhood electrical short prevention
- Competition Drivers License
- First aid / Safety Training
- Participating vehicles have driven over 5,000,000 kilometres of NL roads
- Competing vehicles have driven 250,000 kilometres of closed road competitive stages
- Stages have been hosted by 120 different communities
- Those 120 communities have hosted 890 stages
Owned and operated by Newfoundland International Motorsports Limited, Targa Newfoundland is one of three internationally recognized Targa motorsports events in the world. The 2019 event starts with our two-day Driving School on September 12th & 13th. The Tech/Registration Day is September 14th. Prologue Stages occur on September 15th. The competition will start in St. John’s on September 16th and concludes back in the capital on September 20th. The annual rally will cover more than 1,500 kilometres of the challenging, twisty roads of the central and eastern portion of the island of Newfoundland, including over 440 kilometres of closed-road, high-velocity Targa stages.