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Journeys : Dec Jan 2010
Take a break -- but where? As a caravanner both here and on the mainland, I have some obser vations to make on laybys and passing lanes. I suggest that our R ACT should submit a case to both Tasmanian state and local gover nments to provide more road laybys where a safe stop can be made for those who wish to pause and break their journey for a photo opportunity, tea break or even to allow faster vehicles an opportunity to pass. Too many of our Tasmanian roads do not allow for the chance to have a casual stop without parking in a potentially dangerous place. This is frustrating for all travellers. On a drive from Devonport to Hobart, apart from ser vice stations, the only 'comfort stops' are in Campbell Tow n or St Peters Pass, unless a detour to Oatlands or Kempton is made. As on the m ainland, highway signs that indicate the distance to the next layby and toilets should also be erected. Interstate and overseas visitors must be frustrated when they have missed the chance of a photo-stop or a rest break, that then requires a sudden stop and two about-turns, perhaps in busy traffic with the chance of causing an accident. Passing lanes are most welcome to those with a caravan or motorhome, as they allow one to move into the left lane and slow dow n to let faster vehicles pass. However, a time comes when one needs to return to the safe travelling speed and merge back to the right into a single lane. The indicating ar rows (usually three) painted on the road surface in mainland states of Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland are different from those in Tasmania. On the mainland, the arrows are closer to one another and there is a far shorter time period for one to merge. By indicating when sighting the first arrow, following drivers are aware of your intention to merge as well as your increased speed. In Tasmania, this can be confusing and unsafe to all visitors to our state, who are inclined to merge too soon and thus push traffic over to an oncoming lane. When towing a caravan, it is very frustrating when speedsters still try to overtake, even when one has the right of way to merge and both vehicles are past the passing lane. Action, please! Hamish Kyle By email Our terrible road toll The rising road toll in Tasmania is of great concern to us all, with the authorities at their wits' end to reduce the ter rible los s of life. Lowering speed limits, increasing fines and other strategies are having little or no effect. But is it possible that we cannot see the wood for the trees? Could the answer be there in front of us? Taking driving lessons and being granted a licence to drive does not in any way prove a person's ability to handle a vehicle. All it does is assume that everyone is a fit and proper person to get behind the wheel, when in fact all the evidence suggests other wise. For example some people are not coordinated enough to take part in all manner of sports. That doesn't suggest for one moment that there is anything wrong with them -- rather, it is the way that nature has programmed them. Similarly, many people are unable to handle mathematics, to draw, sing, or fully comprehend anything mechanical. So they do not even attempt such activities and instead successfully direct their efforts to other fields of endeavour. Might it not follow that for many, their make-up or DNA is just not suited to driving a motor vehicle or handling machinery? Total concentration and awareness when driving should be a dominating factor. Drivers must be fully aware of how the vehicle is handling road and weather conditions -- and know what is happening not only ahead of them but also left, right, behind, above and below them. Is it possible that our licensing system might be at fault, since it assumes that all people have equal skills, when in fact, they do not? One school of thought suggests that computer games have some bearing on the driving attitudes of the younger generation, as they may well have been influenced by the fact that there are no terrible con sequences of crashing a car at high speed in a computer game, thus desensitising them to the tr ue facts of crashing in the real world. While testing officials might be aware of these undoubted facts, there is no guarantee that all drivers passing an oral or practical test will, when driving unsuper vised, display the right skills and attitude. Perhaps we need to devise special psychological tests that could reveal whether people possess the relevant skills. After all, command of a warship or war plane or an army is not given to anyone in the armed forces, until they have successfully passed very stringent psychological tests. So why not have similar tests to all applicants for a driving licence? Surely, hidden in accident statistics, there must be details that would allow analysis to for mulate a method of identifying people who are totally unsuited to driving. Mike Bowyer Kingston Thanks for nothing To the slower driver on the Cambridge- Richmond road who moved over the other day to let a few of us past -- thank you for your courtesy. To every other driver on that road who can't or won't go over 80 km /h -- thanks for nothing. Phillip Abel Campania Your views In our community December 09 / January 10 10
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