Capabilities test

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CIA's Firebird crossing the first line in a cape test

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.