Recently, NSW Crash Investigation Unit Commander, Senior Sergeant Peter Jenkins, stated that he’d been beaten and that, essentially he’d given up on motorists. “I have no idea what we need to do to get the message across to motorists to drive within their capabilities and take time.”
Pardon? Has he not heard of education?
After many years of the police and politicians (and Harold Scruby – look him up if you’ve never heard of him) pointing loudly at speeding and drink-driving as the cause of all fatal accidents on our roads, there is a wonder that no one has thought to try a new tactic now that the current ones are failing. The road toll appears to be on the way up again in spite of their efforts.
So what can be done? For starters, they can read Mark Skaife’s report on what other countries are doing and what we’re doing wrong.
Once they’ve finished that, they can go out and actually investigate all accidents thoroughly to determine a specific cause for each accident rather than the blanket phrase of ‘contributing factor’. Using that phrase means speed is always a contributing factor to any car crash as at least one vehicle (or object) is moving at some point. While there is a crash investigation unit, quite often they won’t attend so-called minor fatalities and merely use an officer’s report.
Most importantly, there needs to be a realisation that most accidents are caused by mistakes. Overtaking at an inappropriate time, not taking a break, not seeing the car at the intersection, etc. Speed is usually not the cause of the accident, but if speeding is involved it does make the consequences worse.
While saying that, a higher speed limit on some roads wouldn’t do any harm and may in fact reduce the road toll due to reduced fatigue. Fatigue has climbed the crash-cause list in recent years as both roads and cars become safer. If proof is needed, then we only need to glance at the Northern Territory’s road toll since they added a 130km/h speed limit on their previously unrestricted roads. If nothing else, it proves that a 130km/h speed limit won’t mean that everyone on the road will die. Mostly it proves that there was nothing wrong with the open road speed limit previously and that a large amount of revenue was lost as car manufacturers could no longer do hot weather testing at high speeds during the European winter.
Above all else, I can’t understand why motorists are bieng given up on without introducing the most obvious way of combatting issues that are seen on the road.
Motorcyclists have had compulsory training for all learners for quite a few years and there was a clear drop in their injury toll, yet too many politicians have then come out saying that it would never work for car drivers.
It’s so frustrating that when motoring bodies, magazines and enthusiasts all pipe up in favour of more education that they are shot down as being ‘hoons’.
But I shall be doing my part. I will be attending a driver training course in November. This will be my 4th full course, not including a recent VW drive day that was billed as driver training but really wasn’t. It doesn’t mean I won’t crash in the future but it will improve my skills and give me a better chance of avoiding one.