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Journeys : April May 2010
Last word on roundabouts? No ... Ican't help noticing with some joy that despite the R ACT's 'Last Word' several years ago, roundabouts are back on the agenda. While the suggestion of an education campaign might be useful, there is little point 'educating' motorists to apply the current r ules (exactly as they are) to use existing roundabouts (ex actly as they are). If my gadget -- car, chainsaw, roundabout etc -- is well-designed and working properly, then it is reasonable to teach me how to use it safely. But if my gadget is badly designed and/or broken and dangerous to use at all, then the only sen sible lesson is to fix it before any attempt to use it. This is the case with many of our roundabouts, and particularly with the laws for using them. Part of the problem is that we use the word 'roundabout' to describe two significantly-different structures. The things we call 'small roundabouts' are roundabouts only in the sense that petrol is volatile diesel. There are similarities, but the differences are much more important, and it is dangerous to ignore them. It is this ambiguity that leads to both of the most common sources of confusion -- who indicates what, when; and who gives way to whom? Once we realise that small roundabouts are not at all like proper roundabouts, we cease to be surprised that the answers for one are substantially different from the answers for the other, and that for roundabouts of intermediate size, the answers can be resolved only by a room full of lawyers at the inquest after the collision. Before we embark on the impossible task of educating motorists to use dangerous laws for dangerous roundabouts safely, can we please first work out the correct design for safe laws for safe roundabouts? Keith Anderson Kingston ...here's more! The article 'Roundabout crashes increasing' in the last issue of Motor News Jour neys reported that crashes at or near roundabouts have increased 40% in the last three years compared with the previous three years. The article suggested that an education campaign might help -- but the sudden increase over a short period suggests that something has happened in that period to cause these extra crashes. What we have had in the last three years is a change in the law that now requires everyone to indicate a left turn when they are leaving the roundabout. This is clearly an experiment that has failed and the law should be changed immediately. If a driver activates their left indicator at, or immediately after passing the turnoff before the one they are taking, then there will often be a vehicle at the next entry waiting to enter the roundabout. The automatic reaction when seeing a vehicle approaching you indicating a left turn is to assume that they will tur n off before reaching you. So you start moving for ward and collide with the vehicle already on the roundabout or stop sharply when you realise it is going past you and then get hit from behind. This scenario is consistent with the two most common causes of accidents at roundabouts. A simple solution is to ban left signals when leaving a roundabout. The only people who benefit from a signal are those waiting at the entry beyond where the vehicle is leaving. It is of no benefit to cars behind, except at multi-lane roundabouts, but lane markings should prevent any conflict there. If we must have the current law then any education campaign should emphasise that you should never activate your left indicator while any vehicle entering ahead can see it, if you will be passing in front of them. Brian Horton West Launceston To quote from the Tasmanian road rules: When approaching a roundabout, adjust your speed to stop safely if needed. Before entering a roundabout, give way to all traffic in the roundabout. When you are leaving the roundabout less than half way round it, you should indicate left when entering and leaving the roundabout. When you are going straight ahead at a roundabout, you only need to indicate left when leaving the roundabout (where practical). When you are going more than halfway round a roundabout and indicate right as you enter the roundabout and indicate left as you leave the roundabout (where practical). Note the term 'where practical'. It isn't always practical to indicate, especially on smaller roundabouts. Never assume that because a vehicle has an indicator flashing it will actually take that course. If in doubt about the vehicle's intended direction, wait a few seconds until its actual intention is clear. A few seconds' extra wait isn't the end of the world! Common sense, care and attention should be the rule -- just as it should be whenever you're behind the wheel. Advanced motoring? Drive Smart! It was very encouraging to see John Young's article refer ring to the Australian Institute of Advanced Motorists (AIAM) and the System of Car Control (Motor News Journeys Dec 09-Jan 10). Some time ago, my eldest daughter, having achieved her full licence, decided to take the AIAM's Drive Smart! course. After the first session, she encouraged me to consider In our community Your views April / May 10 10 June / July 09
Feb March 2010
RACT MNJ June July 2010