David Leyonhjelm: Let the people set the limits

This was published in The Australian Financial Review, 10 January Jan 2014.

Did you cop a speeding ticket these holidays? Many did. Speed limits have the status of holy writ, with everyone expected to obey them. Officially, fines are atonement for sinning.

We are repeatedly told how many people were killed in road accidents over the holiday season, invariably attributed to excess speed. There are gory advertisements warning of lifelong injuries, with big brother enforcement via fixed and hidden cameras, double demerits, average speed cameras, aerial monitoring and highway patrols.

The underlying message never varies – below the speed limit is safe, above the limit is not.

The public thinks otherwise. In the absence of visible enforcement or perceived hazards, voluntary compliance with speed limits is low. A 2009 survey found less than 20% of drivers admit to always driving at or under the speed limit. Another found only 41% thought speeding by up to 10 km/h in a 100 km/h zone was unacceptable, while 38% admitted to speeding by 10-19 km/h and 21% by 20 km/h or more.

Outside narrow suburban streets, exceeding the speed limit is not seen as a problem.

The National Road Safety Strategy seeks to change that. Its aim is to “reduce poor road user behaviour” through “behavioural change”, and has a vision that “no person should be killed or seriously injured on Australia’s roads.”

It asserts we need lower speed limits, additional enforcement including in-car speed monitoring, plus increased penalties.

There is a link between speed and the risk of accidents and injuries. The degree of correlation is disputed and there is some evidence that modestly higher speed limits would reduce the accident rate, but higher speeds certainly lead to more serious accidents and ultimately more of them.

The question is, why not drastically lower speed limits? Given the aim of zero deaths and injuries, why not reduce the speed limit to something like 20 km/h so that accidents are either eliminated or only have minor consequences?

The answer, fairly obviously, is that it would be unacceptable to the community. There is an implicit assumption in speed limits that there will be a certain level of deaths and serious injuries as the price paid for convenient travel. The vision of the National Road Safety Strategy is not only unobtainable, but irrational.

That raises an interesting question. When the law says one thing and most people have a different view, which should prevail? And perhaps more to the point, who should set the speed limits?

The people who currently set them are anonymous, unaccountable bureaucrats. Perhaps the most powerful people in Australia, they essentially decide how many people should die on our roads. Governments and ministers come and go, but they and their speed limits are always there.

This is massive bureaucratic overreach. It is the public, not bureaucrats, who ought to determine the trade-off between travel convenience and the road toll. There is even an internationally recognised method of achieving this, known as the 85th percentile formula. Briefly, it involves the temporary removal of speed limits while speeds are monitored. At the conclusion of the period a limit is reimposed at or slightly above the speed at which 85 per cent of drivers travel.

The method is based on the assumption that the large majority of drivers are reasonable and prudent, do not want to crash, and wish to reach their destination in the shortest possible time.

Evidence shows that those who drive above or substantially below speed limits based on the 85th percentile are far more likely to cause accidents. Enforcement directed at those drivers thus has a positive impact on road safety while enjoying a high level of driver support.

If the public becomes concerned about any increase in road deaths or injuries, this can be expressed through periodic retesting of the 85th percentile.

If the government serves the people rather than vice versa, speed limits should have the approval of most drivers. Instead of being treated like sinful children and a source of revenue, motorists should be the ones who decide what the limits are.

David Leyonhjelm is the Liberal Democrats’ Senator-elect for NSW

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157 Responses to David Leyonhjelm: Let the people set the limits

  1. K-Man

    A politician talking common sense. I’m speechless – I am without speech.

  2. Milton Von Smith

    Evidence shows that those who drive above or substantially below speed limits based on the 85th percentile are far more likely to cause accidents.

    So it is the variance of the speed, rather than the average speed, which seems to matter most.

    Increasing the speed limit may therefore save lives. Charles Lave had a series of papers on this in the 1990s:

    http://www.uctc.net/papers/069.pdf

    http://www.jstor.org/stable/1818655

  3. james

    If everyone who ever said smugly “well just follow the speed limit then” gets a ticket for 5 kmh over the limit tonight the laws would change in a week.

  4. David

    The 85th%ile rule is applied not only to speed limits. However it is one of the criteria which also includes road geometry, number of property access points on a stretch of road, abutting land use, etc.

    In an “open road” situation it is not so much the speed at which a limit is set but the variance in speed within the vehicles using that road. Speed differential is a much greater issue than the limit itself. It is for this reason that open road limits on P plate drivers were adjusted to meet the rest of the driving population. Likewise the lifting of heavy commercial vehicle limits in speed zones below 100 km/h.

    The simplistic idea of letting “the public” decide is just that – “simplistic” and fails to recognise the complexities of setting a limit.

    Having said all that enforcement has to be realistic. If speed distribution studies were properly conducted and a limit shown to be unrealistic then it should be altered and enforcement in the area suspended until the limit is changed.

    “It is the public, not bureaucrats, who ought to determine the trade-off between travel convenience and the road toll”.

    Perhaps Senator Elect Leyonhjelm could accompany some young police officer delivering a death message and try it on the family being given the news that Dad/Son/Mum/Daughter has been involved in a collision and is not coming home – ever.

  5. Pedro

    Apparently a spear head sticking out of the middle of the steering wheel would do some go too. I remember seeing research showing that accidents went up after the introduction of seat belts.

    In Qld we have the every K over is a killer slogan. What a shocking and obvious lie that is. Pure justification for revenue raising. Our cops recently announced that they were lowering the secret allowance, but on in the 50k zones in towns, which is the limit it is easiest to accidently bust and which is least connected to road safety.

  6. Notafan

    I don’t have a problem with this methodology of setting speed limits. Is there any country that has done this and published information that provides insight into it’s successful implementation?
    We have three separate school zones on our street that were 40 km limited 24/7 so frustrating late at night on the weekend. Plus there is a regular speed camera set there. I know people who have been fined twice in one day for 5 km over.

  7. thefrollickingmole

    Theres a pretty simple test..
    What areas do you know of personally, that have had their speed limits increased over the years?

    Remembering the speed limit of 110 was set back when the Charger and other things were roaming the highways like t-rexs’..

    We are assured roads are improving, both design and quality, cars are safer, and driver training (go on laugh) is better than it used to be..

    So are authorities today overprotective, or were our authorities a generation ago recklessly irresponsible?

  8. Mike of Marion

    I’ve always said that if I was going real fast. I wouldn’t have been at the scene of the accident – I;d be further down the road.

  9. Must be a different David Leyonhjelm. There was nothing about guns there.

  10. jupes

    Thanks for that David L. The other thing to consider is that cars are built to handle speeds way higher than current speed limits as are most highways.

    Keep fighting the good fight.

  11. Percy

    My biggest gripe is double demerits. Changing the punishment for breaking a law depending on what day it is is ridiculous. If more people are murdered on Fridays than Tuesdays, by the same logic the prison terms should differ between the two.

  12. ar

    Eliminate speed limits and you eliminate speeding… fair enough.

  13. Motelier

    Speed limits are a small part of the problem.

    Driver training is severely lacking here in Queensland.

    Driving between the motels can be in either teeming rain, or, on dry roads at either night or day, or in heavy fog.

    The number of drivers that do not drive to the conditions is amazing. In some conditions the speed limit is downright dangerous.

    In France the freeways and tollways have flexible speedlimits. Up to 130 k on the freeways but if it is raining the limit is reduce. If it is snowing the limit is reduced again. Secondary highways are limited to 90k.

    Now do not get me started on the conditions on our roads. That is infrastructure and both sides have be neglecting it for years.

  14. Art Vandelay

    The question is, why not drastically lower speed limits? Given the aim of zero deaths and injuries, why not reduce the speed limit to something like 20 km/h so that accidents are either eliminated or only have minor consequences?

    The answer, fairly obviously, is that it would be unacceptable to the community. There is an implicit assumption in speed limits that there will be a certain level of deaths and serious injuries as the price paid for convenient travel.

    That is, the costs of the lower speed limit of 20km/h exceed the benefits.

    On this, the cost-benefit analysis prepared for the reduction of the 60km/h speed limit to 50km/h nationally showed that even this small policy change would lead to costs in excess of the benefits due to the overall increase in peoples’ travel times. Of course, the bureaucrats chose to ignore the costs (even though they are not allowed to consider proposed policies that don’t lead to net benefits) and the regulation went ahead anyway.

  15. jupes

    Given the aim of zero deaths and injuries, why not reduce the speed limit to something like 20 km/h so that accidents are either eliminated or only have minor consequences?

    Grant Dorrington – a bureaucrat advising the WA government on speed limits a few years ago – wanted to lower speed limits on suburban streets to 30 kmh.

    Dickhead.

  16. lotocoti

    What a shocking and obvious lie that is.

    Absolutely.
    The absurdity is writ large on the north bound highway out of BNE where the limit goes from 100 to 110 and the poorer road surface develops some sort of magical life saving property.

  17. candy

    If the speed limits were put up by 10 km for example, then you’ve have another batch of people driving in excess of that too, and on it would go.

    Speeding is a little addictive to a lot of drivers.

  18. Noddy

    This is a ‘catch 22′ situation. People can’t just go around killing themselves on the road otherwise the bureaucrats will run out of taxpayers. Driving over the ‘speed limit’ is a tax on driving faster than the law allows. Driving a modern car along the Hume Freeway between Albury and Melbourne at 110k in good weather conditions with the cruise control set is boring and can lead to accidents. It could easily be 130k thus reducing time on the road but of course this does not allow for ‘driver distraction’ like mobile phones and limited concentration of inexperienced drivers.
    The reason 100k is selected for most ‘open roads’ is because above this speed chances of survival from a very quick stop diminishes markedly.
    Then there is government financial policy… the supposedly safest cars are also the most expensive and carry the highest taxes. Bit different to smoking where the cost of smoking is designed to discourage smoking so one would think safer cars would carry NO TAX at all to encourage safer vehicle use. It will not be long when there will not be any ‘forgiveness at all’ as the Y2K design rule for vehicles already allow’s for ‘speedo creep’ and if you are over by ONE K then you will pay.
    Put a GPS device in your car to monitor the speed and stop making unnecessary contributions to the government.

  19. Lem

    Arbitrary speed limits seem stupid. Around schools, in residential areas fair enough, but just as much to reduce noise pollution. On the highway? Well let’s take some cues from the good old NT.

    The worst thing is fatigue and alcohol.

    Or as someone once said “the road toll is a small price to pay for the convenience of being able to drink and drive”.

  20. Pat Warnock

    Pedro, is that true about seatbelts and the increase in accidents?

  21. Infidel Tiger

    Grant Dorrington – a bureaucrat advising the WA government on speed limits a few years ago

    One of the biggest (expletive deletives) God ever put breath in to. Ultimate nanny stater.

  22. Habib

    Spot on. Vehicles have approved hugely over the last few decades, and the speed limit’s remained static.

    Driver standards need to be raised however, I’ve driven and ridden motorcycles on nearly every continent, and Australia (and especially SE Qld) has the worst by a country mile.

  23. struth

    Don’t get me started.
    A reasonable point would be to at least allow public comment and make the public servants that set speed limits contactable and answerable.
    As a professional driver of many years experience and a clean record of heavy vehicle driving around Australia, I would have many points to raise.
    The speed limits are at the moment worked out by incompetent fools, especially in the outback.
    Studying fatigue on a simulator in a university for reaction times is so far removed from the reality of long distance driving in Australia it’s not funny.
    I remember these fools many years ago, forcing a different speed limit on trucks to cars, and citing german and europe’s case.
    Applying autobahn rules to outback single lane highways, you gotta ask yourself.
    Who are these ignorant self described “experts”?
    Varying speedlimits for different vehicles on a single lane road, just increases the amount of passing being done. That’s when most accidents happen out there.

  24. H B Bear

    One of the biggest (expletive deletives) God ever put breath in to. Ultimate nanny stater.

    Hear hear. One of the most ****ing useless ****s to ever draw breath. A mediocre footballer that has somehow eked out a career as a taxpayer funded finger waver. Perfectly suited to Perth.

  25. Patto

    I will seriously consider putting your party first next time

  26. Adam d

    If the speed limits were put up by 10 km for example, then you’ve have another batch of people driving in excess of that too, and on it would go.

    Speeding is a little addictive to a lot of drivers.

    I am a serial speeder, driving to the conditions rather than the speed limits set for the handicapped. I don’t speed because I enjoy breaking the law (in fact it stresses me greatly) I speed because I have only one life and I do t want months of it wiped out by big brother.

  27. Infidel Tiger

    Grant by name, grant seeker by nature.

  28. crazydude

    I would think going 110 an hour anyway. Maybe I’m wrong.

  29. James B

    Fuck all you nannystatist scum, abolish ALL speed limits.

  30. Carpe Jugulum

    Evidence shows that those who drive above or substantially below speed limits based on the 85th percentile are far more likely to cause accidents.

    An excellent point, when was the last time some meandering coffin dodger was booked by Mr Plod for doing 80 in a 100 zone that was single lane.

    As Motellier mentioned above the quality of driver training in Oz is woeful (nothing personal if you are a driving instructor), Lady Jugs and i have put our children through defensive and advanced driving courses. They have learned some valuable lessons from this – expect the other person to do something stupid and know how to react when you may be in the shit at speed. (that includes ice & snow)

  31. candy

    I speed because I have only one life and I don’t want months of it wiped out by big brother.

    Well, we wouldn’t want your your life wiped out altogether, Adam, though!

    I’m not sure everyone who insists on exceeding the speed limit are actually capable of driving at that speed though. I would think it is a very skilled thing.

  32. Carpe Jugulum

    I will seriously consider putting your party first next time

    You should Patto, one may not agree with all their policies but at least the LDP deals in the real world not the emo metrosexual feelgood pap.

  33. Alfonso

    “It is the public, not bureaucrats, who ought to determine the trade-off between travel convenience and the road toll.”
    OMG…an adult politician.
    Govt wants to save 1500 lives and horrific injuries every year in Australia it will ban cars.
    So cars are more important than 1500 lives and horrific trauma?…..of course, now you get it.

  34. blogstrop

    People don’t get killed because they were travelling 10 or 20 k over the speed limit. It’s more likely that an accident will be caused by erratic or out-of-control driving on someone’s part, like the P-plater who was in my stretch of road on the way home tonight, changing lanes way too quickly and often in his white Datsun sporty thing.
    People who run red lights or just speed madly, even trying to outrun police on occasions.
    People who don’t look properly before pulling out at an uncontrolled intersection.
    Truck drivers and bus drivers can also be at fault.
    To oversimplify and blame everyday speed smacks of either justifying the cameras and the revenue, or admitting that they just don’t have the resources to manage all the other things that cause deaths. Like shitty roads.

  35. Bill

    Let us get a few facts out there for all of the pundits.
    1. There is not a single traffic or speed measurement device which is in accord with the only correct Act of Parliament; The National Measurement Act. All State legislation which purports to define their measurement devices are invalid insofar as they do not accede to the National Measurement Act, The Australian Constitution S109 applies.

    2. Deriving from the first point, the operator of said measurement device has to be authorised and verified by the Director responsible or his delegate within the clauses of the National Measurement Act.

    Unless the first 2 points are met, any fine or penalty imposed by any State or Territory with respect to a measuring device is invalid. Commonwealth law prevails over all State and Territory law to the extent defined by S109 of the Australian Constitution.

    “Local Government” as they like to define under State law cannot exist as “local Government” is not recognised under the Australian Constitution. Therefore whether or not a State purports to enact a law enabling “local Government” it is invalid under the Australian Constitution and therefore no fines or penalties can be issued by these bodies. Al local govt bodies are actually corporations which if they wish to sue for some infraction of invalid laws can only do so in a civil court – in which case most people can safely take them on. Only courts can impose fines, penalties or custodial terms under valid laws. And then only if an offence is proved under an appropriate valid law.

    cheers

  36. Andrew

    My biggest gripe is double demerits. Changing the punishment for breaking a law depending on what day it is is ridiculous.

    The theory is that there are far more hazards / fuckwits out there on long weekends. Greater traffic density, fatigue, drunks, or simply people in distant and unfamiliar places not knowing where they’re going, seeing landmarks late and making abrupt adjustments.

    They are doubly reluctant to add speed into that mix. Similar to having dual speed limits on the F3 – one for when it’s raining at the bottom of the hill.

    Does it work? Maybe. Got to say I’m not thrilled about the suggestion, although personally I would find it very convenient to drive at 130km/h in all the long-distance driving I do. The road toll has come down enormously – what used to be NSW deaths are now national deaths. I think they could start with 130km/h in dual carriageways – that will probably save lives from fatigue, quicker passing of trucks and slower vehicles etc. Let’s see if we can handle this maturely and then get back to the other limits.

  37. struth

    You of course have to have speed limits.
    Police need to be able to use their discretion.
    The government using propaganda like “every K over is a killer” is just purely and simply revenue raising.
    A few days ago a vitorian highway patrol officer swore they had no quota system.
    Then they publicly admitted what they had all along.
    Apparently it’s not a quota system if you call it a “scorecard” for officers.
    Again, the speed thing will be revved up even more for the sake of revenue raising and false bureaucratic legitimacy, and yet the roads will be a death trap that’s the government’s responsibility, but they ignore.
    There is no OH@S standards applied to my workplace and the government makes sure of it.
    This is all corruption that costs lives.
    Thank god we’re spending so much on the NBN.
    That’s important.
    Can’t have slow facebook for the internet luvvies pushing leftism.
    Stuff the National Road Network, that only kills people, you know, like those brown people floating in the water.

  38. Fred Furkenburger

    David is on the money. Speed never killed anyone. Excessive speed in the wrong place is just a symptom of a deeper problem. Accidents only happen for one of three reasons. Abject stupidity in which manifestly stupid speeds in the wrong place are just a symptom. Driver error in that the driver doesn’t “read the road” correctly and lack of driving skills. The only thing the state has any control of is the last one. If they taught young drivers to actually drive and control the car rather than teach them to “point and shoot” we would in all likelihood have fewer accidents.

    David is right when he basically says drivers in the normal course of events aren’t either suicidal or homicidal. They will drive at a speed which is comfortable for the conditions and their personal driving skills (which I reckon aren’t generally all that flash, particularly in new drivers).

    Having driven for over 40 years myself (never managed to kill or injure anyone despite being a “rabid speeder”) I have noticed that speed limits are dropping everywhere. What was 100 is now 80, what was 60 is now 40. It won’t be too long before they will require us to have a bloke with a red flag walking 100 metres in front of the car to warn of the car approaching. Damn I think that’s been done before.

    As far as I am concerned this constant lowering of speed limits is more about “sucker bait” to book the unwary motorist for revenue than actually about safety.

    Oh and just one more thing. Some years I was at a local Chamber of Commerce meeting where a couple of blokes from Vic Roads announced to us the imposition of the 40 k limit though our strip shopping centre. When I asked why 40 and not 50 the response was “oh everyone will do 10 k over anyway”! Kind of says that every speed limit in the state (Vic) is at least 10 k under what it should be. Revenue raising is what the ridiculously tight enforcing of speed limits is about. It has very little to do with safety. They should not let people who mostly drive desks to set speed limits!!!

  39. Bruce

    There is even an internationally recognised method of achieving this, known as the 85th percentile formula. Briefly, it involves the temporary removal of speed limits while speeds are monitored. At the conclusion of the period a limit is reimposed at or slightly above the speed at which 85 per cent of drivers travel.

    Won’t work. People work on relativity not absolutism.

    When the speed limit is reset most drivers will drive 5 km/hr faster than the new speed limit, same as they did with the old speed limit.

    I would love this approach since I hold up traffic better than most bushrangers, as my conscience requires. The overwhelming majority of Australians do not have this limit, only the knowledge that at 5 km/h over the speed limit they are unlikely to be fined.

    People do need limits and enforcement, whether it is social limits or legal limits, for society to operate smoothly (with the least amount of spilt blood). The problem is how to determine the limits which create the most benefit for the least amount of squawking. Rather like taxes really.

  40. Alfonso

    “If the public becomes concerned about any increase in road deaths or injuries, this can be expressed through periodic retesting of the 85th percentile.”

    Sounds like a binding referendum….never happen….our ruling elites hate such a concept above all others.

  41. Perhaps Senator Elect Leyonhjelm could accompany some young police officer delivering a death message and try it on the family being given the news that Dad/Son/Mum/Daughter has been involved in a collision and is not coming home – ever.

    Yes, but …

    Speed is a factor in road deaths. It’s usually not the only factor. Read any crash description in the MSM, and you’ll almost always find other factors, such as:

    - drivers distracted by texting
    - drivers on speed and speeding
    - drivers who are drunk and speeding
    - drivers who are young, drunk and speeding
    - drivers who are young, drunk and speeding, and who actually have already lost their licences some time ago
    - drivers who are young, drunk, speeding, with no licence, and are being chased by the police
    - drivers who are young, drunk, speeding, with no licence, being chased by police and not wearing seatbelts
    - drivers who are young, drunk, doing bog-laps in a paddock, and then bewildered when the car runs two other people over, but thankfully their dad is a local cop, so it’s all good, except for the deaths, of course.

    Leyonhjelm is right. If we’re serious about stopping car accidents, we need to:

    reduce the speed limit to 20km/h
    remove all illegal drugs from our community
    ensure that no one under the age of 30 gets a licence

    Problem solved.

    Alternatively we could run our local auto industry into the ground, but I think the unions already did that one for us.

  42. jupes

    I would think it is a very skilled thing.

    Not by a very long shot. Anyone can do it.

    You miss the point Candy. Speed limits are arbitrarily set by wowsers. Road conditions and vehicle performance are not considered.

  43. Paul

    This argument just goes on and on, while the individuals inside Governments continue to lie without shame in order to steal from us as much as they can get, and they continue to be enabled by the disgusting, corrupt media and empire building Chiefs of Police. This is the only truth about the way speed limits are used.

  44. Paul

    Perhaps Senator Elect Leyonhjelm could accompany some young police officer delivering a death message and try it on the family being given the news that Dad/Son/Mum/Daughter has been involved in a collision and is not coming home – ever.

    because this only ever happens because someone did 65 in a 60 zone. Maybe we could bring back the red flag act just for you. Grow up.

  45. struth

    Speed is a factor in every accident.
    What a dumb statement.
    Of course speed is a factor in all accidents. You’ve got to be moving to hit someone.
    I am cert 4 qualified in training and assessment . I am qualified to teach a number of VET qualifications but I was for a while teaching MC driving. (Trucks , multi combination, road trains etc.
    The training car drivers get and the standard of the trainers is totally unacceptable.
    The students spend their lessons in suburban backstreets , learning 3 point turns and reverse parking and not much else.
    Most of the car driving instructors (wouldn’t know themselves) don’t teach new drivers anything to do with highway, night driving, or any real defensive stuff. They teach the student to pass a test conducted by a public servant who also has no idea.
    Then they blame speeding?!

  46. thefrollickingmole

    Heres an old experiment my dad got me to do as a learner driver (who had already been driving for years on a farm)..

    Drop the passenger side wheels onto gravel, with your drivers side on the bitumen and apply the brakes… Its a real eye opener (less of a problem now there is ABS), Ill wager extremely few learner drivers have ever been exposed to an “oh shit” moment like that in training.

    But hey, as long as their logbooks are ticked off that demonstrates competence right?

  47. Fred Furkenburger

    It would be interesting to see some real analysis done on the cause of accidents. Historically more accidents happen during holiday periods. Hmmm could this be because you suddenly have a lot of extra drivers on the road who normally, maybe catch public transport or don’t usually drive long distances? Who’d a thunk! Sadly the authorities focus on speed and have convinced too many people that “speeding is bad”. So of course the sheeples just go along with this, repeat the mantra and allow themselves to be bled.

    The other really annoying thing is the demerit system. It absolutely discriminates against the driver who does a lot of k’s a year. They are much more likely to be caught by a speed camera (doing nothing necessarily dangerous) than the person who mostly uses public transport in their day to day movements. So the person who actually has reasonable driving skills (and more likely to need their license for a living) is far more likely to be caught and punished (for likely not being dangerous) than the person who has little driving experience and far more likely to cause life threatening issues!

  48. Infidel tiger

    I would love this approach since I hold up traffic better than most bushrangers, as my conscience requires

    No offence but you sound like a real cock.

  49. Fred Furkenburger

    Struth, yep!!

  50. Hasbeen

    We have been having quite a bit of old country roads upgraded around here in recent years. Every time the road is widened, upgraded, & resurfaced we find that when the roadwork’s restrictions come off our much improved road now has an 80 limit replacing the old 100 limit on the narrow , patched & bumpy road of old.

    The best bit is the road from Canungra & Nerang. Over 14 years the 12 stretches of dotted, overtaking permitted, centerline have been replaced with solid no overtaking lines. Spend 14Km stuck behind a 30 year old farm truck, then tell me what you think of that.

    The funny bit is just after the army base, over the little range. It used to be a 100 limit, & is a bit twisty, so occasionally some stargazing tourist, or kid imitating Fangio would run off it.

    They reduced it to 80, & guess what, occasionally some stargazing tourist, or kid imitating Fangio would run off it.

    So they reduced it to 70, & guess what, occasionally some stargazing tourist, or kid imitating Fangio still run off it. A local cop, when retiring, admitted that every time the speed limit was reduced, the accident rate went up.

    What wouldn’t I give to eliminate all planners from our governments.

  51. Bruce

    No offence but you sound like a real cock.

    Thanks, Infi, you are kind as always. On other hand I have no objection to 70 km/h school zones. Kids should learn early that the world is a dangerous place, or schools should put in on campus drop zones.

  52. keith eberle

    Rush on all you wise guys,Hell aint full yet.

  53. Fred Furkenburger

    Hmmm Bruce “I have no objection to 70 km/h school zones. Kids should learn early that the world is a dangerous place, or schools should put in on campus drop zones”.

    It is another topic but I do consider that we have managed to remove much of the Darwin Principle which managed to drag the human race out of the mire. Sadly without it there is really only one way to go.

  54. struth

    By the way, the truck training side of it is a disgrace too and there are only a few decent training operators. Different rules for different states but in SA and Vic, you can train and assess the driver, and pass them to drive up to a road train. Competition then dictates advertising how quick and inexpensive you can be in getting them licenced. It is absolutely ludicrous. There is no seperate authority testing. A big tranport company (the most hated) raves on about safety and then hires in house accredited trainers then hire people with no experience and gives them licences and sends them out on the road. You may remember , they were recently caught out and many licences were deemed invalid.
    Good roads, good training and common sense laws are the key to good road safety.
    Anything and everything else is revenue raising.

  55. Tardell G

    “No offence but you sound like a real cock.”
    And you sir/maam make a queefing sound such as a heavily pounded vagina might make.

  56. Docket62

    “Perhaps Senator Elect Leyonhjelm could accompany some young police officer delivering a death message and try it on the family being given the news that Dad/Son/Mum/Daughter has been involved in a collision and is not coming home – ever.”

    About time something like this came up… I’ve been there and done that thanks, in another lifetime, but I spent many years on the road in specialist accident investigation in Victoria.

    One of the most serious collisions, a head on Holden commodore travelling 100kmh and a Mercedes e class travelling 100. Both at speed limit (circa late 1980′s). Combined impact speed 200kmh. The commodore was spread over 600 metres with the driver very dead. The driver of the Merc, which was unrecognisable as a vehicle let alone a Merc, was sitting on top of its engine where the rails had pushed it, with doors open and the father and his two boys standing on the side of the road. Best ad for a Merc I have ever seen, and the reason I own two today. His comment? The car just saved me and my boys lives, I’m going down tomorrow to buy a new one…

    In my experience, investigating fatal and serious collisions for many many years, speed was only ever a small factor. Alcohol, fatigue and sheer fucking stupidity, as well as sometimes pure bad luck played its part as much as speed.

    I couldn’t agree with David more! speed is a single component! and the reduction ind rink driving has been massive! and in line with reducing the road toll! but there will always be a toll, because there are always 18-25 year olds driving high performance cars that think they can drive, and they think that alcohol or drugs has little effect on their now amazing abilities.

    As I said at the start, I’ve delivered those messages. I’ve stood on door stops at 4 in the morning with blood still on my uniform, telling mothers they no longer have sons…. But not because of speed. Most cases it was because they were victims or they simply impaled themselves and did the state a favour by removing themselves from the gene pool.

    Speed does not kill. Poor ability, fatigue, intoxication and the influence of drugs kill, but speed does not.

  57. Tator

    Oh crap, into the lions den I go as this is my now field of employment with SAPOL and I think I better get this right.
    Firstly, I have been at Road Safety Section for 9 months. In this time, I have been exposed to research by people like Dr Jeremy Woolley, Dr Matthew Baldock and quite a few others who work for the Centre for Automotive Safety Research at Adelaide Uni.
    A lot of the research they have done has been independent of police investigations of accidents and they have come up with their own conclusions.
    One such paper which has been released into school curriculums is “The science and myths of low level speeding” which utilises basic high school physics that most people here would be very capable of understanding. A bit of a basic physics lesson here too: Worth noting is that from 50 to 100 kph the braking distance of a car will increase from 10 metres to 40 metres. When you double the speed of a car braking distance quadruples.
    This is based on the laws of physics. When a car is moving it has kinetic energy, ½mv2. When the velocity doubles the kinetic energy quadruples. The braking capability does not increase when driving faster, there are no reserves of friction. As such in any vehicle when your speed doubles braking distance is four times larger. In addition, a motor vehicle loses about half its speed in the last 5 metres as braking is not linear in effect. A quick illustration, car doing 60km/h on straight level road, has a child run out on the road 45 metres in front of him. In a modern vehicle with good brakes and tyres, the driver of this vehicle using the average reaction time of around 1.5 seconds, will stop and touch the child. A car doing 65km/h will hit the child doing 32km/h, now that is the difference between the speed limits and doing 5 km/h over. Btw, at 80km/h, the car will hit the child at 66km/h.

    Actually one of the more interesting points brought up by Dr Baldock at a recent training session with CASR and RIAus academics was that in the age group that has the most casualty crashes, the 17 to 24 year olds, extreme driving behaviour such as hoon driving, burnouts, major speeding only caused less than 15% of casualty crashes. The vast majority are caused by things like inattention, poor closing speed judgement and poor decision making. The most common crash is where the young driver is T boned by an oncoming vehicle at an intersection. In addition, these young people are less likely to die in a crash due to their relative youth and fitness and we are finding the growing trend for over representation to be in the over 60′s bracket where their relative frailty means they are much more likely to die in a fatality than a young person.
    With government road safety strategies, there are three pillars which are called the Three E’s of Road Safety.
    Enforcement: where my colleagues the Road Nazis go out and issue motorists with fines when they are caught offending.
    Education: The field that I am currently working in where Emergency Services such as my section or the MFS RAP program give road safety presentations to school students, businesses, community groups and older road user groups. Currently I am developing a package to deliver to a bunch of Medical students from Adelaide uni who are going bush for their fifth year of studies and they requested that RSS give them a presentation on the differences between rural and city driving as most have not driven outside the greater metropolitan area of Adelaide. I was asked to do this as I had mentioned in the thread on regulations, I have spent nearly 6 years travelling the rural road network of SA from Glenburnie to WA, from Cockburn to Kulgera and everywhere in between. Plus I grew up in the bush and learnt how to drive out there. For this presentation, we briefly touch on speeds and speeding, it is mainly focused on the many different risks of driving long distances on rural roads, with issues such as fatigue, animals crossing roads, farm implements, road trains, oversized loads and road conditions.
    Finally the last E is Engineering, which incorporates road and road furniture design and automotive design. For those who are Top Gear fans, one of the main philosophies they have is, if you want to see what is going to happen in automotive development and safety, just look at the next S class Merc, as generally that has all the latest kit on it. Albeit, I believe Audi and Volvo are racing around trying to build a car which will remove the most dangerous thing from driving, and that is the human driver.

  58. Tator

    One more thing, speed doesn’t actually kill, it is the sudden stop at the end.

  59. C.L.

    There is an implicit assumption in speed limits that there will be a certain level of deaths and serious injuries as the price paid for convenient travel.

    Exactly. There is an implicit assumption, for that matter, that freedom itself comes at the acceptable price of deaths and injuries. That’s why we – or, rather, they – don’t ban rock-climbing, mob cycling, rugby league, rock-fishing, skiing, balooning, smoking and drinking … though the Stalinist wowser gobblers running the ‘health and safety’ bureaucracies would outlaw all of these if they could. ‘Health and safety’ in this country has become a kind of secular religious movement – like crystals or yoga. It seems to make people feel noble, warm and fuzzy. Whenever I see a union-linked work truck with the “Safety Always” sticker on the back I reach for my revolver. Then there is the easy acceptance among Australia’s putatively rugged male workforce of wearing ‘high-viz’ clown clothing to work every day.

    This country is incredibly gay.

  60. David

    G’day Docket,

    Still alive and kicking I see.

    David

  61. CatAttack

    Just returned today from a driving holiday of NSW travelling south via New England Hwy and returning to Brisbane by the Pacific Hwy. Let me say that I saw more police on the road than I’ve ever seen in my whole life. Which us fine by me.

    The problem comes about with the seemingly arbitrary changes in speed limits which occur with such regularity that you start to become totally paranoid. In some stretches you have 10 changes of speed limit in a kilometre stretch. Some of the 50km limits are just ridiculous with not a house, school or playground in sight.

    My point being you should be spending your time looking at the road not constantly checking your speedometer waiting for a gotcha moment because you have drifted over the limit by 2 or 3 km/hr.

    The most dangerous thing I saw was a man driving 20km BELOW the limit on a motorway. People were diving left and right to avoid him. He probably thought if 1km over is a killer 20km under must be a life saver.

  62. Tator

    The Frollickingmole, that is a great example as the scenario comes up in the CASR report 101 by LN Wundersitz which examines via post crash investigation by CASR researchers. They examined specific driver errors and contributing factors associated with young driver risk-taking behaviour and with those who made simple mistakes or errors that lead to crash involvement. Available free online via the CASR website http://casr.adelaide.edu.au

  63. Docket62

    Evening David

    Still kicking. Registered number ?

  64. Fred Furkenburger

    I just wish that the powers that be would do the common sense thing and use speed limits as an advisory only. If you have an accident and are proven to be over the speed limit then you are at fault. I would use the analogy that if I am driving down the Western Ring Road (in Melbourne), there is not a vehicle or living human being in sight, the speed limit is 100 KPH, I am doing 130 KPH am I doing something dangerous? Well no, in a modern car I am not! Stupid to fine me for doing something not dangerous to anyone. If I am doing 100 KPH down the same stretch of road and I can see police lights, ambulance, people milling about well I can do 100 KPH because that is the speed limit! Err no because that would be very dangerous given the situation.

    Blindly booking people for a victimless crime with there being extraordinarily little risk of there being a victim just brings the whole system into disrepute. Police when I first started driving were out on the roads (visible) and only used speeding as an easy, unarguable way of punishing people who did stupid things in the wrong places. These days it is all about revenue. As I mentioned above this actually has a more adverse effect on day to day skilled drivers than the ones who actually cause most of the problems.

  65. Tator

    CL,
    we had that discussion over at the Deadweight costs of regulation thread. The nanny state is well and truely here. Here in SA we have Jay Weatherill, an unabashed supporter of big government, going up against a rookie in Steven Marshall, who seems to be more small government minded, hopefully he will do a better job than the last Liberal Govt here who were troubled by infighting even when they reduced the ALP to 11 seats. None of the three Lib premiers saw out a full term, albeit the last one, Rob Kerin was only a caretaker after John Olsen stood down after misleading parliament.

  66. MACK1

    Looks like David Leyonhjelm will be raising the intellectual standard in Canberra. And stealing some votes from the coalition at the next election. Possibly including mine.

  67. Rabz

    FFS, where to start and I’ve just read all the comments.

    Tators, you make some good points, but they’re too heavily laden with nanny state propaganda. The part about braking, for example. Most modern cars have phenomenal brakes (however, commodores wouldn’t, for example). Thus, a lot of what you’ve penned above about breaking distances, couldn’t be applied across the board. My car, being a modern two seater sports, has a much shorter breaking distance than for example, a big, fat, stupid, ugly, shoddily built, poorly appointed commodore, driven by a young, illiterate, innumerate, arrogant drug and alcohol affected bogan deadshit. They’re the real menace on the roads, not me with my over thirty years driving experience, including motor cycles as well as cars.

    Then there’s the revenue raising. Again, don’t get me started.

    A final point – having driven across Europe, I’m totally at a loss to explain why the expressway between Sydney and Canberra isn’t 130 kms for its vast majority.

    Oh that’s right – it’s because we’re a bunch of nanny state poofters.

  68. stackja

    As a pedestrian I notice a lot of drivers showing their inadequate skills when driving. Before removing limits increase skills training. Single vehicle accidents are I believe the result of speed overcoming limited skills.

  69. C.L.

    Tator, awesome contribution above.

    The expertise around here never ceases to amaze.

    I was saying the other day re driving skill that – in my very humble opinion – the current iGeneration of drivers is the worst I can remember.

  70. David

    Grow up

    Thanks for the sage advice Paul but I did that 50 plus years ago the night I delivered my first message that a father and husband was not coming home.

  71. candy

    One more thing, speed doesn’t actually kill, it is the sudden stop at the end.

    I’m having a little difficulty with that. Surely it is the excessive speed that causes the vehicle to not be able to stop in time before the impact?

  72. C.L.

    Perhaps Senator Elect Leyonhjelm could accompany some young police officer delivering a death message and try it on the family being given the news that Dad/Son/Mum/Daughter has been involved in a collision and is not coming home – ever.

    The reality is that Mum and Dad and the (adult) family are all speeders too, though, isn’t it?

    So that’s not much of a point really.

  73. C.L.

    Candy, it’s an old joke – not meant to be pondered scientifically.

  74. Rabz

    Surely it is the excessive speed that causes the vehicle to not be able to stop in time before the impact?

    If it’s a crap vehicle, yes. Most people in this country drive crap vehicles because of extortionate taxes.

    Another factor for the likes of Leyonhjelm and junior state propagandist tators to consider.

  75. JC

    I’m having a little difficulty with that. Surely it is the excessive speed that causes the vehicle to not be able to stop in time before the impact?

    Not necessarily. It has to do with a lot of things. The type of impact and the vehicle. Have a head on in one of those stupid Smart cars where the combined speed is 70 k and you’re likely to be toast as you organs would be severely damaged through the impact.

  76. C.L.

    Rabz, Tator is one of the good guys. Ease on up.

  77. C.L.

    If it’s a crap vehicle …

    Very good point.

    With the welcome death of the Australian can manufacturing sheltered workshop industry, we should now remove all of the import taxes and charges on high quality, say, German cars. Road safety should improve significantly as a result.

  78. C.L.

    meant car, not can … but, come to think of it …

  79. Brian of Moorabbin

    An excellent point, when was the last time some meandering coffin dodger was booked by Mr Plod for doing 80 in a 100 zone that was single lane.

    Does booking a guy for doing 45-50kmh in the right lane of a multi-lane highway (with a speed limit of 80kmh) qualify?

    If so, yesterday.

    Otherwise it would probably be about 2 months ago, but only because my ‘patch’ doesn’t usually include 100kmh freeways….

    Just because you don’t see it happening all the time, doesn’t mean we don’t do it. Yes, I’ll admit that some younger coppers may have the belief that “slower is safer” and thus overlook these ‘rolling roadblocks’, but to the majority of seasoned HWP coppers those types of drivers are just as much a cause of commuter angst (and subsequent road rage) as the youbng P-plater in his souped up rice-burner (or bullbar-toting, aerial-waving ute) who is diving in and out of traffic like he’s racing at the Indy 500.

    An interesting article David. I dare say you’re aware of the comments I’ve made on similar topics over the years.

    I wanted to comment on one particular line:

    The people who currently set them are anonymous, unaccountable bureaucrats.

    I suppose that they are at that, being employed by the massice government departments (VicRoads, RTA NSW, et al), however the vast majority are also highly educated civil engineers, specialising in traffic flow and related matters.

    Could they do a better job? Most probably. As could just about any of us if we reviewed our work performances objectively.

    All in all though, you raise a number of pertinent issues, and I agree that more community input could help with finding a solution.

  80. Tator

    JC.
    Actually the Smart cars are well designed to cope with a head on at that speed. One car that isn’t is the Proton Jumbuck which ANCAP rates as their lowest level. One of thr best is something like the current Subaru Outback which has a good 5 star rating and ANCAP adjust the ratings as cars improve so a 5 star car from four years ago is now only a 4 star.

  81. Peter

    Estimates of the contribution that speed makes to fatalities should be taken with a grain of salt…. Or a tablespoon.

    I have had it confirmed by a very cynical old copper, that “excessive speed” is the easy box to tick for any policeman assessing the cause of an accident. In the sense that if the vehicle(s) had been stationary, the accident could not have occurred, it is true. However it is also true that no copper can test the dead for fatigue or distraction, or even determine accurately the speed at the time of the accident.

  82. JC

    Tator

    I read somewhere that if you had an impact… hitting a wall .. with a Smart Cat at 70 k you internal organs would rip off what what’s holding them in place. Small cars, all small cars are dangerous in an accident and there’s not much of a way of getting around that.

    http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/14/small-cars-rate-poorly-in-new-crash-tests/?_r=0

  83. Peter

    And by the way…. That people die is not an excuse for rules that do not stop people dying.

    Too often we have the bleeding hearts crying that we must do “something” or positing that the sky will fall if we abandon a rule, without asking exactly what we are trying to achieve, and the cost/effectiveness of the proposed solution.

    Therefore, it does not matter how many distressing messages must be delivered, if raising speed limits does not increase that number, then they are NOT a valid reason to object to raising those limits.

    I have not read all of the comments, but has no-one mentioned the recent American experience in which limits were raised on many interstate highways, yet there was no correlated increase in fatalities?

  84. Tator

    Rabz,
    Unlike my commissioner, who believes that educating motorists is best done via the expiation noti. I am one for getting out in the public and teaching them about the best way of driving safely. I haven’t pinched anyone in 14 years.
    As for cars and their different braking capacity. My figures were for modern cars with good modern tyres. The same physics applies to a Lotus Elise or a Ford Falcon in that the vast majority of speed (kinetic energy) is converted to heat in the last 5 metres of stopping. In other words, the sports car has a better braking capacity but you also gave to remember that most expensive sports cars are drven by older males who can afford them and who generally have slower reflexes snd thus a longer reaction time. Btw I am a car guy who knows cars and tries to keep up with new automotive tech.

  85. JABL

    In the mid nineties I had occasion to look at a sod of a lot of coroners files. Amazing how often when you looked at the photos they would be black & whites of long stretches of country road. We would refer those as: idiot drives too long kills family. Too often driver survived, passengers carked it.

  86. Rabz

    Tator is one of the good guys. Ease on up.

    Sorry CL (and Tators), couldn’t help myself. BoM knows this feeling as well!

  87. gary

    The NT Road toll here shows that in 2006 (the last year of open speed limits) there were 44 deaths. In 2007 (when a 130km/h speed limit was applied in place of an open speed limit) there were 57 deaths and in 2008 there were 75 deaths (i.e. a 70% increase in deaths in two years). Every year since 2006 except 2009 the NT road toll has been greater than 44. Any claim that lower speed limits are safer and reduce deaths is contrary to the actual real world data from the NT.

  88. Rabz

    Thanks tators, for the detailed response. I’ll defer to your undoubted knowledge in this instance.

  89. Rabz

    I haven’t pinched anyone in 14 years.

    I haven’t been pinched for over 27, if that’s any consolation!

  90. Tator

    JC
    That issue of vehicles of disparate mass is always a problem and not just for Smart cars but for any crash where a much larger vehicle hits another ie when a truck and car collide. Simple physics explains that via Newtons law of motion. Many small cars share the same problem when hit by a larger vehicle.

  91. Rabz

    a vision that “no person should be killed or seriously injured on Australia’s roads.”

    Utterly preposterous.

    These idiots would send us back to the dark ages and more than happily use state power to achieve that aim.

  92. Brian of Moorabbin

    gary,

    as a counter to your article, I present this:

    Victoria has recorded its lowest road toll since 1924 in the past year, with a 14 per cent drop of deaths compared to 2012, according to new police figures.

    In 2013, 242 lives were lost on Victorian roads, compared to 282 in 2012. It is the sixth consecutive year the road toll has fallen and the biggest drop in a decade.

    If you believe that the setting of a 130kmh limit in the NT is the reason for more deaths post-2006, then I think you can agree that obviously speed cameras, ‘nanny-statism’ towards hoons, etc are the reason for Victoria’s lowest toll in 90 years….

    (Hint: They aren’t, and you can’t.. Both are a logical fallacy)

  93. JC

    If you believe that the setting of a 130kmh limit in the NT

    That’s the one place I’ve driven at a slow speed as I was told it’s not uncommon to hit a roo.

  94. JC

    Many small cars share the same problem when hit by a larger vehicle.

    Small cars don’t offer that added protection that medium to larger cars do even when the other car is bigger.

  95. kae

    Ah, Has been

    I had the pleasure of visiting Jimboomba last Friday to check out prospective purchase.

    Mt Lindesay Highway sucks. It’s mostly 80ks all along, and on the way home, heading back toward the Logan Motorway, I had several idiots speeding and weaving dangerously (no gradual return to lanes, just jerking the steering wheel to duck in front when there’s only a couple of car lenghths between the car they’re passing in the centre lane and the one ahead of them in the left lane!).

    I had a car up my jaxsie, a P plater in the lane on my left, a ute had just darted past me and crossed into the lane in front of me just in time to avoid the P plater when it was ahead of me in the left lane. I wanted to get back into the left land and let the idiots go past. The P plater was behind me enough for me to safely change lanes to let the idiot tailgating me past.

    I indicated, checked, she was still up my clacker, and I started to change lanes. I’d say that at the exact time I was changing lanes she decided that she couldn’t wait any longer and, instead of staying up my clacker, she decided to pass me on the left. In my blind spot. As I was passing into the left lane I saw her behind and beside me. No horn from her or anything, just fierce gesticulation.

    She blamed me. If she hadn’t been up my jaxsie and so impatient she’d have seen I was changing lanes.

    The speed limit is 80 there, and it was obvious that I must have been going too slow for her doing the speed limit.

    I hope she gets booked. Twice.

  96. Brian of Moorabbin

    Roos aren’t too bad.. they tend to fly up and over the cabin of the car (mostly). It’s the wombats you need to look out for.

    I’ve seen a landrover with it’s passenger front suspension assembly (wheel, spring, shock absorber, everything) torn out of its mountings and front mudguard peeled open like an orange after apparently hitting one of those little f*ckers at 100kmh.

    Allegedly the wombat waddled away uninjured (we certainly never found hide nor hair of it despite a reasonably thorough search…)

  97. Tator

    Rabz.
    Everyone in my unit believes thst will be impossible to get casualty crashes to zero as you cannot legislate away stupidity.

  98. Brian of Moorabbin

    Everyone in my unit believes thst will be impossible to get casualty crashes to zero as you cannot legislate away stupidity.

    Truth.

    As soon as you make everything idiot-proof, nature invents a new idiot…

  99. samuel j

    I like driving along the Hume Highway at 300,000 km/s

  100. Tator

    Brian.
    I tend to worry about no 40 chooks when up north. In the last three years I was at escorts, every time I went north along the Stuart hwy, I had a close encounter with a woomera chook or emu.

  101. Brian of Moorabbin

    300,000 km/s

    Converst to 1,080,000,000kmh

    (otherwise known as lightspeed)

    Too slow…

  102. Lem

    Actually, Brian, Roos are not good, they can end in the cabin and I have had to resuscitate people in said situation. It is better if the roo is killed by the impact, because if they are still alive in the cabin it gets really ugly after impact. I am being serious.

    And I agree with Rabz (way up) regarding brakes in some sports cars. Red brakes are best, not only because they look good :) As for the drivers being older and having slower reflexes (the venerable Tator) bollocks dude we are more sensible in our risk taking. And some of us are female.

    As a final note, to you who love to drive and are sick of bureaucrats telling you how to do it. Never forget, no one ever said it was illegal to go around corners at 60 km/ hr. Count it as a stress test for your husband!

  103. JABL

    Brian

    When driving west in Qld the problem with roos is believed to be the road trains. It is not you hitting them but a road train coming the other way picking one up and spearing it through your windscreen.

  104. Lem

    Go Samuel J, with the window down

  105. Rabz

    It’s the wombats you need to look out for.

    LOL – here in ZP we call them “wonkbats” and their favourite activity is kissing cars.

  106. Lem

    JABL I did 5 years in western queensland as a doctor, and here is my observation. Roos travel in groups and feed in the long paddock, and the worst time is dawn and dusk when they are feeding. All roo related car accidents I saw were single vehicle, no road trains, and one roo hopped out with the others darting behind.

  107. Paul

    “The speed limit is 80 there, and it was obvious that I must have been going too slow for HER, doing the speed limit.”

    Women are far worse than men for reckless, impatient, aggressive driving around urban streets.

  108. Rabz

    Women are far worse than men for reckless, impatient, aggressive driving around urban streets.

    Evidence, Squire?

  109. Paul

    Thanks for the sage advice Paul but I did that 50 plus years ago the night I delivered my first message that a father and husband was not coming home.

    So the cause of the crash was…

  110. JABL

    Lem

    Fair enough. I was careful to say that this was a belief. But the dawn dusk thing is right but particularly during drought when the only green is by the road side. It is at night that the road trains really let loose.

  111. Rabz

    Allegedly the wombat waddled away uninjured (we certainly never found hide nor hair of it despite a reasonably thorough search…)

    :)

  112. Brian of Moorabbin

    Lem and JABL, I’ll bow to your superior experience.

    We don’t get many roos in the bayside suburbs of South-East Melbourne ;)

  113. Tator

    Jabl.
    Roos are what they call crepuscular in that they are most active at dawn and dusk

  114. Tator

    I have had friends who claim that a wombat ripped their sump out. But it is true that they have a real bad attitude.

  115. JABL

    Oh and by the way OTT. Five years country good for you Lem. Country service can be good , bad and/or5 ugly but docs particularly who will do it are saints. If you were ever around charleville did you ever get to know the sole lawyer in town?

  116. A H

    Leyonhjelm is too leniant.

    No road rules are necessary.

    Injuring another person or their property is already illegal.

    Let people do whatever they want on the road so long as they do not harm people or their property.

    In the case of private roads (which all roads should be) let the owner of the road decide the limits and conditions upon use of the road.

    Market forces my friends, markey forces.

  117. Lem

    Never did time in Charleville except for operating there once. I was central Western Qld late 80′s early 90′s and also did subsequent specialist runs on the flying surgical services. Sorry to be so coy…I’m sure you can appreciate why..

  118. Chris M

    Tator did you see where a bunch of cops in the USA sued their own police department for enforcing fine quotas on them & won $6m. Pretty awesome, pity the limp wristed cop union wouldn’t get behind that here.

  119. struth

    Pongy what are you saying

  120. Grumbles

    At the very least someone who wields that authority or a representative of the government which gives them this power should have to re-butt this argument.

  121. Docket62

    Morning David
    That’s one hell of a number….very few still with us. I am thinking I was with you on a trip to Edenhope one New Year’s Day ? Lost it on a technicality? If so it’s nice to have you here with the Cats

  122. Charles

    This article raises some excellent questions and shows that the National Road Safety Council has become the problem as opposed to the solution.

    Road fatalities are mostly linked to the design capacity of vehicles to protect the drivers and passengers in the advent of a crash. I believe this mean number for our national fleet is probably around somewhere between 70- 80 kmh at present, which means that in large states with small populations, a greater proportion of people spend more time driving on open roads where the speed limit is 100 kmh +. Therefore, this is where the greatest amount of fatalities/100,000 head of population will occur. Consequently, this is so with NT, WA and SA leading the charge and the converse can be found in the ACT where there are virtually no roads above 80 kmh and their relative fatality levels are quite low.

    There are two other longer term trends which is also driving down road fatalities and they are the improvement in roads, and the increased urbanisation of the Australian population. So, the long term trend is downwards as our cars become better designed. However, there are also yearly fluctuations up and down, which are related mostly to weather (i.e. in wet years road accident rate go up, and in drought years they tend to go down).

    The speeding law I have the most issue with is the one that relates to keeping to the speed limit while you are overtaking other vehicles. Unless they are going nearly 20 kmh slower than the speed limit, it is almost impossible to overtake without breaking the limit. If you are behind a long truck, forget it, you will never get past them as it takes so long to do so, you can never see far enough ahead to assess whether you can make it or not.

    What this law also does is result in long lines of frustrated traffic tailgating each other, and if someone gets frustrated and has a go, they find that if it looks like they can’t make it, they can’t drop back because the next car behind has moved up to take their place, so they are stuck and have to hope the oncoming traffic decides to ride off the road. They also have a tendency to be watching their speedo while they are overtaking which I also cannot see how it lends itself to safe driving practise.

    It is laws like this when they are applied which enforces a number of very poor and dangerous driving practises, and if you look up the accidents that do occur, I am sure that a significant number will be due to some of these stupid laws which make it difficult for drivers to drive safely.

    Hopefully, the senator will be able to do something with these Road Safety Councils as when you read their strategy paper it is quite obvious these are social engineers who are consumed with noble cause corruption, and are mainly seeking to preen their moral vanity by coming up with all these stupid laws. Special mention must go to the pollies though who obviously wave these things through without giving them a moments thought. A significant penalty for lack of due care should see them being sacked for lack of intellectual engagement.

  123. kurt

    Just drove back from Belgium last week. Couldnt wait to hit German roads again. More worried about getting booked than safety in Belgium. In Germany I mostly drove around 140kmh but got up to 180km/h when the conditions allowed. Awful lot nicer driving than in the hysteria that passes for road safety in Oz.
    Maybe if governments in Oz spent less money on advertising and more on producing safer roads and better drivers than Australia’s accident rate would fall to Germany’s. Oh wait, that’s right. That would mean good government and no hysteria with concomitant revenue. Silly me.

  124. Tel

    So where in the Australian Constitution does it mention speed limits?

    Why is the Commonwealth wasting yet more taxpayer’s money on committees that shouldn’t even be there?

  125. jupes

    A quick illustration, car doing 60km/h on straight level road, has a child run out on the road 45 metres in front of him.

    Yeah fair enought Tator. That’s why they have 50 kmh limits on suburban streets. I have no problem with that.

    The problem is on major roads, highways and freeways where you shouldn’t expect kiddies to run out in front of you. The speed limit on all these should be increased.

    BTW if a kiddie runs out in front of you, there may be other options than just braking.

  126. Adrian

    the road toll is at historic lows in absolute and relative terms….speed limits are a solution looking for a problem…

  127. M Ryutin

    “The answer, fairly obviously, is that it would be unacceptable to the community”

    This is the real diamond for those interested in realisation of ideas and is a statement that should be taken on board by many people when being idealistic on principles. Recognise what is achievable and what is not, albeit not ideal.

    A rational and arguable case on speed limits, but one must remember that, this issue notwithstanding, many self-aware and highly principled arguments can be mere fodder for a debating society not ever becoming operational.

  128. M Ryutin

    One comment on road fatalities, especially in country areas and interstate freeways/highways:

    Unless divided roads become the norm thesedeaths will continue.
    Fatigue mainly, sometimes alcohol-assisted was by far the most common cause of fatal and very serious road crashes when I lived in country NSW for 12 years from 1979 (West Darling area and mid north coast of NSW). In 1986 alone there were 29 fatal accidents between Port Macquarie and Macksville on the mid north coast of NSW, many of which were caused by sheer fatigue, although before and after that time ‘speed kills’ was and remains the mantra in holiday times. Kempsey, roughly half-way between Sydney and Brisbane was an obvious early choice site for one of the first rollout of the ‘Stop, Revive and Survive’ rest area assistance in that year for that reason. Whether they were cars drifting head on into other cars in broad daylight or running off in a straight line into trees (and in one case a steam roller) the evidence was all too plain in those days.

    Even badly trying to dodge kangaroos, tiredness resulting in drifting into gravel, over-correcting and the subsequent rollover and deaths can be calculated as up there with sheer negligence or inexperience of city drivers on country highways.

  129. M Ryutin

    Sorry, nearly forgot, I had left Kempsey a few months before the terrible Xmas head-on of two tour buses at Clybucca (just north of Kempsey) in 1987. Anyone who knew that stretch of the highway then knows that it was not the condition of the road that caused that accident. That part was not only fairly new concrete construction, it was virtually wide enough for two vehicles to pass on their own side of the road and because here was no mechanical failure found – to my memory – there was nothing apart from possible drug use that eliminates fatigue as the major cause.

  130. rickw

    Remember the summer carnage on the Hume “Highway”?

    Then they fixed the Hume making it proper Highway, the carnage level dropped to almost zero.

    There is to much focus on “speeding” by individuals as a cause of accidents, and far to little focus on appalling road condition and design.

    Lets be even safer, stick another 2 lanes each way on the Hume and make it into an Autobahn !!!!

  131. Thomas Esmond Knox

    “There is an implicit assumption in speed limits that there will be a certain level of deaths and serious injuries as the price paid for convenient travel.”

    Why not vary the speed limit for extended periods on well-used roads and by measuring traffic flows and deaths/injuries calculate the risk (if any) of higher or lower speed limits being associated with “levels of deaths and serious injuries”.

    I believe this research has been carried out but I suspect the results would be idiosyncratic to the particular road/traffic situation.

  132. David

    G’day Docket,

    Lovely town Edenhope though we didn’t see much of it. Or of Apsley.

    That little “technicality” led to a sensible change in the legislation.

  133. Tel

    The problem is on major roads, highways and freeways where you shouldn’t expect kiddies to run out in front of you. The speed limit on all these should be increased.

    Anyone who builds a school alongside a major road is an idiot and unfit for anything basically. Anyone building a school alongside a minor road that just happens to be the only thoroughfare in that area and will inevitably grow into a major road is also an idiot.

    Every school should be situated down a dead-end street, away from any road longer than 200 meters. If that’s too difficult to figure out then keep sacking town planners until you stumble across a good one.

  134. .

    I’ve driven on country and city roads for a while and have come to the following conclusions:

    Bus lanes slow traffic and are not as good as trams
    Intersections are what kill traffic flow. If you want to ease congestion, build underpasses and flyovers and also roundabouts, along with more direct routes. Sydney is boned because it doesn’t have a genuine subway/rail network.

    If all minor highways were up to a standard to take dual carriageway, road train freight and had adequete animal fencing, shoulders, vegetation clearance, drainage, better designof curves/inclines graded out and had the speed limits raised, the lives lost on highways would be neglible.

    One of the safest roads I’ve driven on is the private M7 tollway. People also drive quicker than the limit and it is safer. It inadvertadly cuts down the highway toll given the time saved travelling from southern inland NSW to Newcastle or the upper north shore.

    More freight going to rail would be good if possible, as would better capacity to allow road trains to service what is not currently in their remit.

    If the Government cannot do this properly, I suggest that they get out of the way. We know Government construction and maintenance costs are many times higher than private providers. Let them set speed limits as to maximise efficient travel and minimise their public liability.

  135. .

    I agree Tel. The other idea we have now is to punish drivers for bad town planning.

  136. JC

    Anyone who builds a school alongside a major road is an idiot and unfit for anything basically.

    They did, a long time ago for a very good reason. There were far less cars on the road and a main road offered easy access to public transport. It’s the reason why houses were at a premium to those in side roads at a distance from public transport.

  137. .

    I don’t see the point in treating motorists like naughty livestock becuase 1950s man couldn’t possibly predict what happened til now, JC.

  138. A H

    School construction should be a private affair. Let parents select the more safely located schools. No subsidy for anything.

    Driving badly is its own punishment. We don’t need paternalism.

  139. Docket62

    G’day back David,
    You’re still a legend my friend and it was always a pleasure to work with you.

  140. Tator

    AH,
    If you actually read the Australian Road Rules, you would find that most of the rules relate to how people interact with each other whilst driving. For instance defining who has to give way in certain circumstances and which side of the road people must drive on etc. These rules allow for people to all have some predictability when driving otherwise you eould have chaos

  141. A H

    Tator, I suspect we can trust people to voluntarily avoid driving into oncoming traffic.

  142. Oh come on

    I recently saw a list of penalties for breaking certain WA road rules. Here are some snippets:

    Reversing for longer than is necessary: $44, 0 points

    Driving without a clear view in all directions: $256, 0 points (??)

    Playing loud music: $352, 2 points (!!!!)

    Sounding the horn: $66, 0 points

    Failing to have a hand on the steering wheel while stopped at lights: $44, 0 points

    Failing to lock vehicle: $44, 0 points

  143. Fisky

    Reversing for longer than is necessary: $44, 0 points

    Got anything on the penalties for ‘calling a police horse gay’, or ‘looking at the police in a funny way’?

  144. jupes

    I recently saw a list of penalties for breaking certain WA road rules.

    Did it include the caveat that all road rules are moot if hazard lights are on?

  145. Leo G

    More freight going to rail would be good if possible, as would better capacity to allow road trains to service what is not currently in their remit

    Dedicated motorways for freight in high-density urban areas could allow corridors for future driverless container transports. Motorways for passenger mass transit work best when the proportion of heavy vehicles is kept low.

  146. TheWombat

    At last. Some COMMON SENSE!

  147. mizaris

    We do a hell of a lot of long distance driving, him ‘n me. We do it in Australia and overseas in Europe, and Asia and the US. We’ve found that on motorways/freeways at up to 110k/h (or 60 – 65mph) you can still eat, drink, talk, blow your nose, take a phone call, sneeze and fart, sometimes doing more than one of these activities at the same time. At 130k/h you don’t do any of these extraneous things – you’re too busy concentrating. If we could drive at the speed that the road conditions allow, and if children were given PROPER driver training, things might be a little different re the road toll. And if we weren’t driving, at lower speeds, on small suburban roads, with one eye always on the speedo, we could all concentrate on the road, the road conditions and avoiding hazards. I think DL is talking complete common sense. Not bad for a polly.

  148. .

    I agree Leo, that is why you need a mutli-modal approach.

  149. struth

    I love the townie theories talking about road freight.
    An understanding of the situation, it seems takes a while.
    If it goes by train, it goes by truck, each end if it is general freight.
    If it goes by plane, it goes by truck .
    If it goes by ship , it goes by truck.
    It all isn’t in containers going to ports.
    It isn’t all going between cities.
    If it isn’t a natural part of the scenery around you, it’s been on the back of a truck. Most times more than once.
    Rail may work in some countries, but due to Australia’s size and spread out freight destinations(everywhere) it has never been a success.
    Whether you like it or not, the way the world works, that isn’t going to change
    Motorist also use roads.
    The tax the road transport industry pay is meant to (but is not) be spent on the roads.
    If it was, motorists would be driving on some very safe, smooth roads by now.
    They don’t drive their cars on railway tracks.
    Seeing that good roads are going to be required no matter what, and good roads are more useful to more people, can we just forget about silly rail ideas ( it still requires trucks) and fix the roads for everyone’s benefit and safety first.
    Then dream up all your other theories.

  150. Noddy

    >“Local Government” as they like to define under State law cannot exist as “local Government” is not recognised under the Australian Constitution. Therefore whether or not a State purports to enact a law enabling “local Government” it is invalid under the Australian Constitution and therefore no fines or penalties can be issued by these bodies. Al local govt bodies are actually corporations which if they wish to sue for some infraction of invalid laws can only do so in a civil court – in which case most people can safely take them on. Only courts can impose fines, penalties or custodial terms under valid laws. And then only if an offence is proved under an appropriate valid law.<

    Foregoing is CRAP!
    Just because local government is not mentioned in the Australian Constitution does not make it an invalid entity. This is socialist nonsense preached in an effort to destroy the Australian Constitution. Local Government is an administrative arm of State Governments and therefore a legal body. Road rules are the responsibility of the respective states… what is appropriate in Tasmania is not necessarily similar in the NT or WA or vice versa. This does not rule out some conformity but illustrates that 'one size does not fit all'.

  151. struth

    Local “government” is a corporation partly paid for by State Government to work in a very specifically local way. Legally they are no more than contractors and if the state parliament has not enacted every bylaw, they are not laws.. They cannot legally make any laws. No matter how much they don’t want you to know this, it is exactly the case. The state cannot make laws enabling councils to make their own laws. If every individual law has not been passed through the state parliament it is invalid.
    It is not just “not mentioned” in the constitution, a third tier of government is stricty prohibited.
    That is why they so desperately want recognition , which can only be achieved by changing the constitution via referendum. That was going to be put to the people last election. It got too hard for labor towards the end to be worrying about it and it didn’t happen. Hmmm, why isn’t the constitution taught in schools anymore?
    Oddly enough, if the state government, passed a law to charge you council rates and the bill was from them you would be forced to pay it.
    As it stands , no one from the local council corporation has entered into a contract with me, and yet they send me a bill without even entering into a contract.
    Lifes too short, and they are too powerful to fight, but legally, and if the majority pushed back, they’d be screwed.

  152. MJA

    Fight Back!
    Learn how to never pay for speeding fines or parking tickets ever again. Use the system;
    http://www.aussiespeedingfines.com.au

  153. Noddy

    No apologies STRUTH… it is still CRAP!
    The Federation of the States to form the Commonwealth of Australia was a ‘creature’ of the States.
    The States only handed some of their powers to the new Commonwealth and retained others known as ‘residual powers’ and these included ‘state’ banking, education, transport, local government and health among others. Try Googling ‘common seal and local government’ for more information.
    What you say might sound good to a ‘bush lawyer’ but try explaining it to the Sheriff and his minions when he comes to collect outstanding rates.
    He can dispossess you of your home and that is why everybody should take a close interest in the activities of their council… keep the bastards honest!

  154. Tator

    Fisky,
    Call a police horse “gay”, the guys and girls in our Mounted just turn the horse around and let it do its thing on you.
    Looking at a police officer the wrong way, Section 0001 part OH subsection NO of the Ways and Means Act. Penalty Used to be a good slap on the upside of the head ala Leroy Jethro Gibbs style, nowadays, can mean a dose of OC spray with the younger more inexperienced members of the services being a bit less tolerant than us dinosaurs.

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