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Journeys : Feb March 2011
February / March 2011 11 Member in focus In our community Jack Williamson lives in Hobart. He teaches English and enjoys bushwalking, kayaking and painting. Jack has been an RACT member since 2009. Why did you join the RACT? I had been a member of RACV for years and enjoyed the sense of security it brought, knowing that help was only a phone call away, especially since I lived in remote country Victoria. It simply made sense to transfer membership to RACT when I moved to Hobart in 2009. Tell me about your current car. I bought my 2002 white Nissan Pulsar in 2004 after searching for a good deal. It had low kilometres and was in excellent condition. It was a pleasure to drive this economical little car after thumping around in a gas guzzler for seven years. I call it my ‘granny car’ because as soon as I drove it out of the sale yard, ever y time I saw the same type of car a ‘granny’ was driving it. More macho friends have ribbed me about it but it has given me no trouble and it still serves me well after 180,000 kilometres. After the family photos, what is your most precious material possession, the thing you would try to grab if there was ever a fire? I don’t really value mater ial possessions. I would be more concer ned about losing documents and files I need for my personal and professional activities. I have a briefcase already packed with cr itical documents, address books and portable hard drives. Losing everything else would be more of an inconvenience than a great loss. I lived through a few bushfires in Victoria and this helped sort out what was most important for me. What is your most memorable holiday moment? My first trip to Nepal in 1996 springs to mind because the culture shock was overwhelming at first. I still love the place because it is so different. I cannot understand why anyone would want to travel and experience more of the same found at home. Where do you plan to spend your next holiday? It will be Nepal again! However, my trips are not just holidays. I have been assisting a remote village improve the quality of their educational facilities and programs now for 10 years. This next visit will be to see the results of supplying 2500 books to two schools and to discuss the details about a new project to help with school infrastr ucture, education and youth leadership. I w ill be living with a local family in this subsistence farming village and teaching some English as well as attending many planning meetings w ith village officials and staff of a local non-government organisation. For more information about this project go to http://w w w. globalgiving.org/projects/mirge-school-environment- improvement-program / When the initial speed zone review took place in 2005, one concern came from a UK study quoted at that time. It found that a reduction in speed limit of 10 km/h was likely to lead to a reduction in actual average travel speeds of around 2-3 km/h. Does this mean that speed limits are lowered but people continue to travel at virtually the same speed – there are just more road users being issued w ith speeding infringements? Perhaps greater consideration should be given to tolerances on the existing limits – this appears to have had a significant impact in Victoria in recent years. The TMC is on the record as supporting a greater visible police presence on our roads as a key way of achieving compliance with current speed limits, and welcomes the apparent change of policy in this area in Tasmania in recent years. Other research has shown that a reduction in the open road speed limit has the potential to create a larger variance in the speeds in which vehicles are travelling, leading to more overtaking and a greater risk of head-on and associated crashes – the exact opposite of the outcome desired by all. Our organisation was dubious about the K ingborough Safer Speeds Demonstration, but thought at least this would be a chance to get some data to show what impact this might really have. This was followed by a similar trial in the Tasman Council area. We support measures based on data and science, but is it really the case that these changes have led to reductions in trauma? The two most significant studies ever conducted into the main causes of motorcycle crashes both revealed that speed is in fact rarely a causal factor in motorcycle crashes, and that what might be described as high speed is even less rarely present. The Hurt Report conducted in the United States over 30 years ago found that the median speed of all motorcycle crashes was 48 km/h, and just one in 1000 crashes involved a speed of 140 km/h or more. Admittedly that was some time ago, and the performance of motorcycles has changed since then (as has been the case for all vehicles). A more recent study has become an international benchmark for motorcycle crash analysis across OECD countries. The Motorcycle Accident In-Depth Study (M AIDS – w ww.maids-study.eu) investigated 921 motorcycle crashes that occurred in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and The Netherlands in 1999 and 2000. 100 of these were fatal crashes. Only 7% of all crashes involved a speed of 90km/h or higher, with 75% of crashes occurring at speeds of 50km/h or less. It is clear from this study that a reduction in the open road speed limit of 10km/h would have a negligible impact on the number of motorcycle crashes. The debate about whether speed itself causes crashes is interesting too. No doubt speed is a factor in a high number of crashes, but so too is alcohol. If someone is over .05 and also travelling above the speed limit, is it right to say that speed was a primary cause of such a crash? Isn’t the real cause the fact that they were driving impaired? It’s the same with seat belts in cars. A significant number of fatalities and serious injur y crashes involve people not wearing seat belts. Is it right to attribute speed as a cause of these injuries? In opposing the proposed reduction, we’re not saying that 100 km/h is an appropriate limit on all of Tasmania’s rural roads. We support the idea of safety audits to identify particular sections of highway where a lower limit might be appropr iate. The second aspect of the latest proposal relates to unsealed roads. In this case, the TMC continues to support a reduction in the rural default from 100 to 80, as we did in our submission to the speed zoning review in 2005.
Apr May 2011