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Journeys : MNJ Aug Sep 2011
Travelling on Keith Anderson wins a $50 travel voucher for his whimsical letter on speed limits – and for not cancelling his copy of Journeys! We welcome letters on any motoring or travel- related topic. Keep them brief – we reserve the right to edit. Contact us by post or email and please include your postal address. Email the editor at email@example.com .au Take your foot off the retarder pedal I enjoyed the column in the June/July issue about cancelling Jour neys. I often think I should do this, not as a ‘chucking a wobbly’ tantrum, but because so many issues genuinely upset me and leave me feeling miserable for months, often till the next issue. The latest is the R ACT’s capitulation to the ‘lower speed limits’ lobby. I can sort of understand the politics, and sadly, I think that ridiculously low speed limits are inevitable. To cheer myself up, instead of cancelling Journeys, I had a little fantasy. No, not that sort of fantasy, just a little fantasy I can share in public. If we really are to suffer ridiculously low speed limits, then we will need all the help we can get. Not just the speed control systems discussed in earlier issues, and not just the systems available in Europe that let the car know the speed limit. Those systems evidently don’t work in Australia because we are even more Euronanny than Europe and our speed limits are too unfathomable, and confuse computers for which European speed limits are a doddle. My fantasy is of a car with only one pedal on the floor. It would work more like a brake than like an accelerator, and we’d almost never touch it. We certainly wouldn’t touch it for emergencies – the car would do that way more reliably than any human. We’d touch it only for really unpredictable events like when we forget our lunch while backing out of the garage, or to stop at a roadside stall to buy some fruit. The rest of the time, the car would control our speed fully. We’d never exceed the speed limit, and we’d touch the retarder pedal only when we wanted to drive slower than the controlled speed, and w ith r idiculously low speed limits every where, that would be almost never. Maybe the next issue of Jour neys will cheer me up. Maybe not. Sigh. Keith Anderson Kingston In praise of End limit signage Well said, John Robertson (Letters June/ July 2011). I too think the End 80 signs are a great idea. End signs signal that the ma ximum limit has gone back to 100 but still allow people to feel they have the right to go under 100 km/h. And while the RACT points out that the majority of blog comments are against them, we should put that in the context of the ceaseless marketing campaign that the R ACT has waged against the signs for the past year. One of the RACT’s recent claims was that the sig ns are ineffective because inattentive drivers cause more crashes than speeding drivers. A car going 100km/h has more than two and a half times the energy of a car going 60km /h; is it not simply obvious that speed is the underlying issue here since an inattentive driver becomes exponentially more dangerous with increasing velocity? Rather than lobbying politicians and hav ing a hypothetical and emotional argument about whether drivers like or dislike the signs, why doesn’t the R ACT study and publish some unbiased analysis? If the introduction of the End signs can be shown to have reduced the number of crashes, they should stay. If it has not, then their effectiveness may be called into question. Robert Stevenson Huon Valley Buffer zones May I add an extra dimension to the debate on speed limit signs, beyond that of ‘End 60’? A further source of confusion is where speed limit signs, usually ‘80’, designate the start of buffer zones. Some years ago, a police spokesman described these as zones, 500 metres long or less, used to warn you to slow from, for example, 100 to 60. These usually occur on the approaches to built-up areas, the speed in the other direction having already risen to 100. This spokesman stated that speed checks would not be placed in these zones. However, 80 signs are also placed where this speed limit applies in both directions, mainly in built-up areas themselves. Regardless of length, speed checks are conducted in these areas. Now, how do we tell the difference? Also, how long after we reach a sign have we to slow down? In many overseas countries and some Australian states the buffer zones are designated by ‘Reduced Speed Limit Ahead’ or ‘60 Ahead’ signs. Indeed, these are used in a few places in Tasmania, such as Brighton. These clearly war n us to slow down to the required speed by the start of the reduced limit zone. Problem solved! I therefore suggest that when our good and faithful traffic employees/contractors are changing ‘End 60’ signs, they change the sign 500m up the road and in the other direction, to ‘60 Ahead’. Mark Bidgood Too low for P-platers I believe the 80 km/h limit on P-plate drivers is too low. I am sure that when overtaking is occurring, the drivers of both the overtaking and overtaken vehicle are both at additional r isk. Consequently, P-plate drivers, who are constantly being over taken, are at considerably greater risk than other drivers. By the time drivers have obtained P plates they will have amassed a reasonable amount of experience, supervised and unsupervised. These people usually also have youth, with faster reflexes, on their side, so there appears to be no logical reason why they should not be allowed to drive at the same speed as everyone else. Max Chugg Who’s out of control? Could someone please explain how any vehicle, be it a car, bus or truck, can lose control? I am continually annoyed when reports in all forms of media, even the supposedly highly respected ABC, state that a vehicle lost control in an accident. The only item that can lose control is the ‘nut behind the steer ing wheel’. Am I the only one who is annoyed by such stupidity from our media organisations? Peter Clark Glenorchy. In our community August / September 2011 13
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