In order to keep a driver as safe as possible, certain items are required to be worn while driving. A driver needs to have a helmet, goggles/safety glasses, a mouthguard, and gloves. In addition, every buggy must have a harnessing system that is approved by the Safety Chairman. The harness system is intended to prevent the driver from sliding around within the buggy while navigating the course as well as provide restraint in case of a crash.
In addition to the above equipment, drivers are encouraged to wear long sleeve shirts and pants while driving to minimize injuries from road debris or scraping the inside of the buggy.
Capabilities tests, or “Capes” as they are more commonly called, are a series of tests that each buggy/driver combination must complete before being allowed to take part in any sort of buggy practices. They must be completed each semester before the buggy will be allowed to roll. The minimum tests that are included are a harnessing test, a brake test and a visibility test. A safety inspection of each buggy is also required before being allowed to roll and, while more often done at a different time, is occasionally done along with the rest of the tests.
The harnessing test is meant to prove to the Sweepstakes Safety Chairman that the driver will be adequately restrained in the event of a crash. Depending on the harnessing system used this test can take a few different forms. In one form, the tilt test, the driver is harnessed into the buggy and the whole buggy is picked up and tilted to a 45 degree up angle and then to a 45 degree down angle. In a second form, the pull test, the driver is harnessed into the buggy and the Safety Chairman grasps the driver’s hands and pulls forward.
The brake test is meant to show that the buggy’s brakes are capable of safely bringing the buggy to a controlled stop within a specified distance. On a flat surface, typically the sidewalk between Purnell and the University Center, the buggy is pushed to a speed of at least 15 mph. The buggy is then released and rolls a distance of 50 ft before the driver is given the signal to brake. The buggy must come to a stop within the specified distance and must not swerve more than ~15 degrees from its initial course. The brakes must then be released and reapplied twice to ensure that they are not binding.
The visibility test is done to show that the driver can see well enough from within the buggy to navigate the course. The Safety Chairman stands around 25 feet away directly in front of the buggy and asks the driver to identify the number of fingers being held up. This process is repeated 45 degrees to the left and right of the buggy.
Drop tests are required by Rule 9.2.4 and require that each buggy is tested before freerolls and after they race.
Drop tests, or “drops,” take place on the sidewalk in front of the Skibo Gymnasium. The buggy is released from rest facing downhill toward the start lines. The buggy must roll freely down the sidewalk for 30 feet before the driver is signaled to brake. The buggy must stop with its nose less than 15 feet past the brake line. The driver is then told to release and reapply the brakes. If a buggy does not stop within the allotted 15 feet, or is unable to brake the second time, it can attempt to pass the drop test one more time before being deemed unfit to roll and needing to successfully complete another braking capability test before rolling.
Each organization’s chute flagger is required to have a stop flag so they can signal to their drivers that there is a hazard ahead. The stop flag must be yellow with a large, black X across its entire face, and is the only flag that may be yellow. A driver must come to a controlled stop upon being signaled with a stop flag. Usually there is also a stop flag at the transition flag as well as at the chute flag. Often during rolls, multiple flaggers will put out their stop flags when they need to signal a driver to make it easier for the driver to see the flag.
The requirement to have a stop flag is covered in Rule 8.1.3 Signal Flaggers.