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Journeys : Dec Jan 2010
Learn to love them David Brown asks why our traffic authorities focus on speed limits much more than on other causes of dangerous driving (Motor News Journeys, October/ November). The answer is both simple and complicated. Our traffic authorities do what they can and don't do what they can't. Speed camera technology enables them to monitor speed easily and economically, so they do that. Technology to monitor other forms of dangerous behaviour, such as dr unk driving, tailgating, road rage etc is still clumsy and expensive, and this limits what our authorities can do. In general, all exter nal controls -- speed cameras, booze buses, speed humps, balloon corners, traffic lights and so on, will always be expensive and less than ideally effective. Almost certainly, effective control needs to be implemented within each vehicle. The relevant aids, such as anti-lock brakes, automatic stability control, speed limiting, distance management, lane keeping, blind spot warning and crash detection are already being introduced into lux ury vehicles and will gradually become available in 'you and me' vehicles. If we are 'glass half empty' people, we will see these controls as 'virtual cop car' restrictions that take the fun out of driving, and hate them; but if we are 'glass half full' people, we will see them as guardian-angel assistants that take the hassles out of driving -- and love them. They are probably inevitable, so it is probably best to lear n to love them. Meanwhile, I thoroughly agree that drivers should be tested more often and I advocate much more than a quick five- minute test. I think that we should borrow quite a lot of ideas from the aeroplane industry and test all drivers regularly and thoroughly. Keith Anderson Kingston A pain in the boot Tailgating is annoying, dangerous, unnecessary and sadly, very Tasmanian! It drives me and most drivers here, to distraction. It also contributes to road- rage and hoonish driving. Why is it so? Well, apart from the unnaturally aggressive driver, for whom there is little hope of changing, a major contributor to tailgating, gleaned from my 50 years of driving experience and obser vation, is the other pest on our highways, the road-hog. This is the person who tootles along at twenty to thirty kilometres an hour below the designated speed limit. These conceited, ar rogant and uncaring drivers insist, mainly in peak hours, of driving at a snail's pace, especially on our highways, with no better reason than it suits their comfort zone. Speed signs are erected for the main purpose of helping to keep the traffic flowing at a reasonable and safe pace for a particular section of road. It is ridiculous, for example, for a driver to crawl along the Midland Highway, on the Bagdad to Pontville straight, at 75 km /h per hour, when the limit is 100 km/h and there is only one lane going in the direction of Hobart. This happens every mor ning when people are trying to get to work. Drivers in this daily routine also often contend with frost, fog, trucks and school buses. The last thing they need is to be stuck behind a road-hog, those selfish, thoughtless and self-righteous pests who seem to have all the time in the world. These people's self-indulgence causes fr ustration and contributes, in my opinion, to triggering tailgating. Please either stick to the speed limit and keep up with the traffic flow; or pull over to allow cars to pass you; or wait and travel off- peak. Most people lead busy lives with deadlines to meet, kids to ferry about and work commitments. Not everyone is retired or a home-body. On a final note -- Tasmanian Traffic Regulations state in part, '... a driver must not unreasonably obstruct the path of another driver ...' and nor should drivers travel '...abnormally slowly.' Fine: Not exceeding 5 penalty points. I.A.Hawkin s Bagdad Speed or road design? I refer to the letter of Mr D. Brown in the October edition of Motor News Journeys. He points to two major overseas studies in the USA and UK, which indicate that only 5% of all accidents had an excessive speed factor. A report dated 24 April 2009 and released in September 2009, surveying community attitudes to changed speed limits in Kingborough (KiSS -- Kingborough Safer Speeds) also makes significant points, a couple being: • Almost 50% of those sur veyed (300) prior to the introduction of the reduced speed limits did not know the maximum speed limit in Kingborough on gravel roads or sealed roads. • There have been more accidents in Kingborough after the reduction of minimum permissible speed limits on gravel roads. (Source: Monash University Accident Research Centre, reported to Tasm anian Gover nment and Kingborough Council.) This is a partial answer to the question of Mr Brow n ('Why so much resource expenditure on speeding, which appears to be among the least significant issues?') There is little said or done regarding the inferior standards of our non-urban roads. Sealed road surfaces in Tasmania are generally poor, similar to those in r ural India, with un sealed edges, road cambers going every-which-way and single lane exit/entry on to roundabouts such as the Kingston /Margate/Summerleas roundabout. Rather than recognising and addressing the more costly but effective road design and road surface issues as being a significant contributing factor to accidents, local and state governments will succumb to a knee-jerk reaction, blame excessive speed and will enforce lower driving speeds statewide in the near future. RJ Miller Kingston Travelling on Hamish Kyle wins a $50 travel voucher for his letter on laybys and passing lanes. We welcome letters on any motoring or travel-related topic. Keep them brief -- we reserve the right to edit. Contact us by post, fa x or email and please include your postal address. In our community 11 December 09 / January 10
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