I got pinged for doing 104km/h in a 100km/h zone…
Guns, revenue, speed, “towards zero” and police driving standards…
DRIVING ON A SECTION of road near Ballarat recently, I saw a speed camera off to the left as I was engaging cruise control. Typically, in my work car (a Toyota Hilux) I have preset my speed for 100km/h and every time I hit ‘resume’, it will creep over and settle back into the desired speed.
Not a problem in the real world but for the police, its a punishable act. My work car is covered in logos that clearly displays the fact I am from a driver training company.
So, there I am driving along the highway at a break neck 104km/h for a few seconds, while my cruise control flutters and then settles back to 100km/h, and I am fleeced of my hard earned and dearly loved points. Australia’s crash rate is OK (but not brilliant), the fatality rate is not as good as Europe’s, but its not exactly China either.
My question is; “Whats the point?’
Road safety experts in universities around the country tell me that travelling 5km/h over the limit makes us all three times more likely to be involved in a serious injury incident. At 10km/h over this rises to four times more likely. When I have asked for a simple explanation the response was the emailing of a 1000 page study with the email suggesting I read it. Mature, I thought!
So I start reading and find things that don’t make sense. For example, the figures came from past incidents and if the driver had behaved, their injuries would be less. OK, I agree. How does this work going forward? Why not have average speed cameras (point-to-point) everywhere and then even the traffic flow will be better?
When we go fully automated and thus driverless cars, the speed won’t be our choice. The government will have to find ways of extracting money from the public.
In Europe, where the roads are better and the licencing standards make Australia look quite pedestrian, even India has tougher requirements in some respects, the speeds are higher, they are not policed, they crash less often and have lower serious injury/fatality rates. Now this is fact and it makes no sense to be so policed when our performance is worse because speed is not, and cannot be the problem. It is back to front.
A bit like saying that if guns are safe, then America must be the safest place in the world!
Travelling down a motorway in Europe will normally see limits around the 120-130km/h mark. Rarely is the traffic doing that speed, in fact there are times when 150km/h is the norm, and I haven’t mentioned Germany yet, they are faster again! In parts.
If I choose to drive at 130km/h when those around me are doing 150km/h, then I am potentially causing a problem. It appears that when I read the 1000-page report from the ‘university’, its as much to do with speed differentials in vehicles as it is ‘speed’ and conditions – traffic volume, dry/wet, sealed, illuminated etc.
We already know the faster we go, and the more significant the stop, it can kill you. In fact, falling just two meters can kill you. Speed itself cannot kill in the case of driving and the focus needs to be on safer systems, technology in cars and better drivers.
You won’t believe me if I say that going 30km/h over the limit in parts of Europe will attract a fine of just €90. In Australia, we pay a lot more. It is also accepted practice, in some places, that every speed zone, when policed has a 10% fudge factor (often to do with the speedo calibration). I got 4%.
It is an attitude problem. The poor attitude of our commitment to roads, poor attitude of our experts to more modern safety methods and a lack of pressure on governments to enforce that all cars sold here must be available with the companies full active safety features as in other markets.
But, mostly our attitudes to driving is abysmal. We want a permit to drive, the shortest number of lessons to get it and then hit the road. It will take about 20 hours of learning, 3000km of exposure through practice and a test to get a licence in Europe!
Finally, how often do you see a police officer driving with one hand resting at 12 on the wheel, I counted five in just one trip recently, and all were driving like this. Are they so disconnected with proper technique that 100 km/h bores them? Highway patrol officers, of all people, must show the highest possible standard yet they don’t, or at least the ones I’ve seen don’t. Utter hypocrisy when I know what they do for training and ‘re-training’, certainly not best practice!
It is time for change and a review of our approach. The current and most pious campaign for zero deaths is admirable but delusional. Roads and driving are a risk, how we manage that risk is up to adults and across this whole subject, I don’t see objective or adult behaviour. Its pious and pretentious.