Watching the road is far more important than glueing your attention to the speedometer

Watching the road is far more important than glueing your attention to the speedometer

I’m going to sound like a stuck record yet again on the subject of safe holiday driving. But so is everyone else when talking about road deaths and speed limits, so why should I be any different?

These depressing thoughts struck me yet again as the Christmas / New Year period began and my local Queensland police force proudly unveiled new speed cameras, promoting them as the way to reduce the road toll. A toll that’s risen in many places Australian-wide despite the introduction of dozens of extra so-called safety cameras.

As usual the holiday period began with politicians who have little or no knowledge of driving spouting off about road safety and quoting misleading numbers about the percentage of crashes caused by exceeding speed limits.

TV news programs kept up a running score on the tens of thousands of people booked for exceeding speed limits, and another gruesome list on the number of road deaths. It never seemed to cross their minds that the concentration on the former wasn’t affecting the latter.

From time to time the police will come up with information on a lunatic driver caught doing something like 120 km/h in a 60 km/h zone. The inference being that we would all drive at such ridiculous speeds but for the vigilance of the police. Which is arrant nonsense – only a tiny minority of drivers are idiots and these clowns will continue to do the wrong thing no matter how many speed fines they ignore and how often they keep on driving without a licence.

This enormous concentration on speed enforcement isn’t working. I’ve said it many times before, but will continue to do so; the vast majority of drivers will travel at the correct speed for the circumstances and shouldn’t be fined, perhaps even lose their licences, for technical breaches of limits.

Those who do drive at an excessive speed for the conditions should be dealt with very harshly, preferably in some way that will keep them off our roads until they finally wake up to their own stupidity. Any suggestions on how best to do this? No, neither have I…

It really is time the authorities weaned themselves off from the enormous revenues being generated from minor speeding fines and started to get serious about campaigns addressing the real causes of road crashes.

They could start with the number one killer – inattention due to misuse of mobile phones. A series of ads stressing the importance of paying attention while driving wouldn’t be hard to put together and could have immediate positive results.

Which brings up my endless mantra on safe driving – always have two hands on the steering wheel, two eyes on the road and all of your attention on driving.

Driving is an extraordinarily complex task that requires constant monitoring of a multitude of factors and taking the correct actions moment by moment.

Want to comment on this? You can reach me at ewan@marquenews.com.au/ but may I request that the “law-is-the-law-and-must-be-obeyed” brigade don’t bother wasting my time? Anyone who feels blind obedience to the road rules is guaranteed to keep them out of trouble is living in fantasy land.

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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