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True Road Safety: Where Is The Line Drawn?

130kmhNaturally, as part of my role as a vehicle evaluator, I’m out and about a fair bit. There’s smart road rules, there’s smart drivers (well, a couple….) and there’s just way, way, way, WAY too many bad ones. Australian governments tell us all about road safety, with the focus on all road safety deemed to be speed-centric.

I ask you: what’s truly more dangerous: travelling at 115 km/h on a freeway that is zoned 100 or 110 under sunny blue skies OR driving at late afternoon, mid winter, with cloud cover and rain with no headlights on….with your car a silver or dark colour. What’s more dangerous; driving along a straight, rural road, with clear vision, doing 80 and the road is zoned 70 OR being in a small car, changing lanes suddenly so you’re in front of a B double whilst not indicating then jumping on the brakes?

Today I was driving, in the company of a good mate, an example of Holden’s outgoing VE SS utes, the Z series with the dark grey five spoke alloys; the weather was cold but clear and traffic was moving well in all three freeway lanes. I’m in Speed Killsthe right hand side lane, zoned at 110 km/h and travelling at a tick above that…the middle and left hand lanes were reasonably full and, inexplicably, moving at under the limit. Behind me there’s a flash; thinking it’s a sun reflection off a windscreen, I ignored it. A few seconds later, another. I look and here’s an example of Australia’s Got (No Driving) Talent; bloke gesturing to me that I should move left so he can pass. Completely ignored was the fact that for he to pass me he’d be closer to 120 km/h than I PLUS there was no room at the inn a.k.a the middle lane. Eventually he sidled past, on my left, at least 130 km/h and disappeared. Twenty minutes later, with no variance in my speed by more than a couple of km/h either way, we didn’t merely catch him, we passed him. Two more times, the same thing happened.

On the way back home, earlier than this, we passed a few  Highway Patrol cars, with all but one sitting roadside, with an officer holding a radar. There was also a marked police car ahead of one with a Community Police signage….both of these changed lanes without indicating quite a few times. So while you, I and everyone else is being beaten senseless with the message “Don’t Speed”, there’s other avenues of safety being forgotten, or, possibly, exploited. Let’s not kid ourselves; safety in most states really is driven by revenue and is coated in a sickly sweet road safety sugar to make it easier for the populace to swallow. In real terms, the road toll is fairly static compared to the amount of extra drivers joining the road each year. Let’s also not overlook how many cars there are, on our roads country wide, that are equipped with ABS, airbags and so on. So our roads are becoming more cluttered, the cars we drive are far more safe yet two things stay the Mark Webbersame: we’re being told that speed kills and no one mentions these two words….”driver training”.

If speed kills, there’s an awful amount of ghosts driving cars. If speed kills, then Craig Lowndes, Mark Winterbottom, Mark Webber, etc, must be bloody lucky. What’s that you say, they’re trained drivers? Thank you sir, my point exactly. And then there’s this:–and-still-alive-20130620-2ok2x.html

In Australia’s capital cities there’s plenty of driver training companies; In Sydney, for example, there’s Ian Luff’s Drive To Survive. Brissie has SDT Safe Driver Training. Victoria picks up the Australian Driver Trainers Association whilst companies such as run advanced driver training courses at racetracks, including Perth’s Barbagallo. Says a lot, doesn’t it, that companies such as these have to work over the entrenched attitude the government says we should have whilst forgetting the simple, the basic fact that better drivers drive better…..


  1. Richard Denton says:

    I am 72 years young. Have lived and worked in many countries of the world and have driven extensively in Singapore. Malaysia, Thailand, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Dubai, Oman, Turkey, Greece. Yugoslavia, Austria, Germany, Holland, France, Belgium, Spain, UK, USA, Canada … and Australia. Australia is the most namby pamby of the lot of them! Standard of driving is pretty pathetic. Discipline is appalling. Stupidity rampant. Too tough? No Sir. This is a first world country and should be compared with countries of Europe and North America and we are way behind their standards. In Europe no motorway is less than 120kph. Many are 130kph and in Germany some are unlimited. Even in the UK 80 mph is the defacto. All road signage is consistent and easy to understand not like the parochial plethora of Australia. Crikey what a jumbled mess! Australia needs a major overhaul of its rules, regulations and its ATTITUDES to bring it into the 21st century!

    June 27th, 2013 at 3:07 pm

  2. Neil Gill says:

    No Speed dont Kill, It is the Driver Fatige. Taking to long to get From A to B , Bad Drivers & Some Young Drivers Thinking there Supper man.
    The argument That you do not need to Drive at Propper Speed,to the Condicens & Distance to go.Just A VERY GOOD WAY FOR GOVERMANT TO MAKE MONEY.

    June 27th, 2013 at 3:24 pm

  3. Tony Leape says:

    Who is the bad driver in this story? Have you heard of “Keep left unless overtaking”? Nothing is more infuriating than someone hogging the right lane seemingly oblivious to the rest of the world.

    June 27th, 2013 at 10:01 pm

  4. Dave Conole says:

    Hi Tony, think you missed this bit: “I’m in the right hand side lane, zoned at 110 km/h and travelling at a tick above that…the middle and left hand lanes were reasonably full and, inexplicably, moving at under the limit.”
    Point 1; I’m not in a position to move left. Point 2; the limit IS 110…not 120, 130 etc. Point 3; the bad driver is the bloke that couldn’t see/chose to ignore that my ability to allow him to pass (which ultimately proved fruitless for him) in his ignorance of both road rules and common courtesy. Thank for your interest though!

    June 28th, 2013 at 2:02 pm