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Journeys : August September 2009
In our community A lot of drivers work to a tight schedule and get hot under the collar when unnecessarily delayed by too slow or too longreduced speed limit signs. This not only affects their attitude but also encourages them to make up the time so as to not miss the next appointment. There is no substitute for police cars on the road. In the USA you often see a sheriff, marshal or policeman booking a motorist. Fixed cameras may be efficient at raising revenue but tend to overlook vehicles with a lower speed limit, such as those being driven by learners or P-platers, cars towing caravans and trucks as well as cars that are obviously not roadworthy. There have been discussions about reducing the speed limit of 100 km/h. This might save one or two lives if all motorists obeyed it. If it was further reduced to 90, there would be a further reduction. 80 would give even better results. If we reduced the maximum limit to, say 10 or 15 km/h we could perhaps achieve a zero fatality rate. Of course, that’s going to ridiculous extremes – so it’s a matter of how far we are prepared to go. As far as South Africa is concerned their usual highway limit is 130 km/h. Inattention also needs addressing. A lot of coverage is given to mobile phones in cars, which is fair enough. However drivers need to be educated about other distractions, such as using the CD player or sat-nav system while driving. Safer cars This is the one bright spot on the horizon. Cars are much safer now than they were decades ago, when annual road deaths over 100 were not uncommon in Tasmania. The fitting of seatbelts was a major leap forward. It astounds me that people are still being killed in cars while not wearing seat belts. Airbags, ABS, Dynamic Stability Control and Traction Control have lifted the bar higher. These coupled with crumple zones and side impact bars have all improved the safety of the modern car. Also a lot of work has been done on the general handling of cars even before some of the above improvements. Safer roads This is one of the problems that could be fixed with money. The only difference between safer cars and safer roads is that the safer cars have cost the motorist money, whereas safer roads are a cost to government. Let me state now that I have an interest in safer roads, apart from that of my day-to-day motoring. I am a member of the West Tamar Highway Safety Committee. I joined this committee because I consider, as do many others, that the state of this road is a disgrace. Eventually the West Tamar Highway, along with other major roads, will be dual-lane and the sooner this is done the less it will cost and the more lives will be saved. One obvious problem with this and many other roads in Tasmania is dangerous verges, which often have large solid obstacles like trees and power poles close to the carriageway. These should be cleared as soon as possible as they have claimed too many lives already. Successive governments have done a lot by way of legislation, with seat belt laws, breath testing, speed cameras, use of mobile phones and stricter requirements to obtain P-plates, to mention a few. These all hinge on someone else complying, while in many cases the government collects the revenue for non-compliance. What we need now is real action from the government to improve our road system, which would have the added benefit of employing more people. That’s my view – do you agree? The views expressed in this section of Motor News Journeys are those of the writer and may not necessarily reflect the opinion or policy of the RACT. Member in focus Rob Clarke is an English lecturer who lives with his partner Mary Ann and three children at Whitemore. He has been a member of the RACT since 2007. Why did you join the RACT? Just the usual I guess, for protection and the reassurance. What’s the most memorable time you’ve been helped by being part of the RACT? I’m fortunate that I haven’t had to call on them for a major emergency yet, but it’s good to have the peace of mind. Tell me about your current car. We have a Holden Astra and a Mitsubishi Delica 4-wheel drive van. The Astra is a 2002 navy blue CD – it has been an extremely reliable and dependable car. It has very good handling, is pretty economical and is a great car to drive. I think it’s a good model. Do you have any stickers on your car? No, we’re not car sticker people. What is your biggest motoring gripe? We’ve just moved down here from Queensland and have been shocked at the number of people who don’t indicate. I just shake my head at the laissez-faire attitude. Otherwise, we’ve found the roads to be pretty decent and there is no real congestion, it is just the lack of indicating that gets me riled. After the family photos what is your most precious material possession? It would be certain mementos of the kids. What is your most memorable holiday moment? My most memorable moment was trekking in Nepal with my wife. We were standing on a ‘little’ mountain called Go Kyo-Ri, which is about 5600m high, and watching the sun set on Mount Everest – that was pretty special. What about your most exotic holiday destination? Morjim, a little village in Goa,India. It is at the mouth of a river and it was a place that literally hadn’t seen tourists. No doubt it has been long discovered since we were there 10 or so years ago but it was a very quaint, beautiful piece of the world, right on a perfect beach. Because Goa was a former Portuguese colony, you could buy port wine and delicious Portuguese shortbread and watch the sun set on old white-washed churches. We stayed at a guy’s house and he would catch fresh sand crabs and bring them back to make a curry at night. Where do you plan to spend your next holiday? We’re Tassie bound. We only moved here in the last 12 months, and so we’re looking forward to taking the time to explore the island. October / November 08 August / September 09 13
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October November 2009