Common sense saves lives, and no more so than on the roads of Australia. Let’s look at two very different drivers and a pair of driving situations.

One is a 19-year-old bloke in a 22 year-old Toyota Corolla. So the car is older than he is – and it has seen better days. Though technically it is roadworthy, the Corolla has tyres that are barely legal, the absorbers don’t damp particularly well as they have done a lot of work over the years and have never been tested. Likewise, the suspension bushes will soon be due for replacement and the wheel alignment has been rearranged by a couple of big biffs against kerbs. The latter has also scuffed the ageing tyres.

The teenager doesn’t have a lot of driving skill, having held a licence for only two years. His driving to date has all been done in the city and suburbs, but he is now at the wheel of his car on a country road for the first time in his life.

The young fella, reckons he knows all about driving, and in any case takes absolutely no interest in what he is doing. To him driving is simply a way of getting from one place to another.

His seat is laid way back so that he looks cool to girls who might see him. Worst of all he is writing a text message so has both eyes on road only about half of the time.

Which is a pity because it’s pouring rain and not easy to see the slippery surfaces ahead. And it’s hard for other drivers to see the Corolla because he knows the battery is on the way out so he doesn’t have the headlights on.

The Toyota’s speed wanders between 60 and 80 km/h depending on how much mind power he has to spare for driving from moment to moment. The area zoned at 100 km/h so the police are unlikely to class him as dangerous because speed cameras only read speed and can’t spot a driver with a total lack of common sense.

Now let’s look at another driver. This lady is at the wheel of a brand new Toyota Camry, one of the safest family cars on the road today. Its excellent suspension, tyres and brakes are backed by sophisticated ABS and electronic traction control.

She has 30 years’ driving experience, has undergone an advanced driver training course at her own expense and is statistically in the age group with the lowest number of crashes.

This woman takes a great deal of pride in driving correctly, has two hands on the wheel, both eyes on the road and is concentrating on her driving and nothing else.

She is travelling on a quiet country road, with little traffic, it’s bright daylight and the weather is clear. Though the posted speed limit is 100 km/h her Camry is travelling at 107 km/h.

There are no marks for guessing which of these drivers is more likely to receive a fine in the mail in a few weeks. Nor marks for guessing which of them might be dead tomorrow.

This is a ridiculous situation, to put a blanket speed limit on all drivers, in all types of vehicles under every road and traffic condition is pure nonsense.

Once upon a time speed limits were enforced by policemen and women who were on the road amongst other drivers. They were allowed to apply commonsense and tolerance. Nowadays fixed cameras are simply lumping everyone into the one category and people with decades of crash-free driving are losing their licences on pure technicalities.

Let’s get some sanity back into enforcing our motoring laws. Don’t just whinge, do something about it. Contact your state motorists’ association, your local member of parliament, the nearest police station, your solicitor, or anyone else you think can help.

Be sure to move quickly because our governments are rapidly becoming addicted to the hundreds of million dollars they are raking in from speeding fines and will soon be unable to function without the money.

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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