Saturday, August 13, 2011

Slow Thinker

The Melbourne Age has published an opinion piece by Mark Stevenson who is the director of the Monash University Accident Research Centre. Stevenson's achievements include the lowest speed-camera tolerances (less than the width of the typical speedo needle) in the world. Naturally Stevenson supports speed cameras.

As soon as I read the words:
"There is no debate among scientists, bureaucrats or the public"
I wondered why there would still be any need to write the article.

Stevenson blames public dislike of speed cameras on government policy:
"One of the main reasons for this is that the public has come to see them as measures driven by revenue rather than safety. Governments need to change this perception by using the money from cameras and other speed enforcement practices to support national and state/territory road safety interventions."
and his research facility... Katching!

"Speed" has become the convenient all-purpose excuse for any road accident in much the same way South Koreans blame electric fans for unexplained deaths (yes, they're that nuts). It prevents the need for any critical analysis.

If a driver has a head-on collision with oncoming traffic, clearly he was travelling too fast. Never mind that he had his eyes off the road (was watching the speedo instead of looking out the windscreen) and was playing with his phone at the time...

Every long weekend it's another double-points bonanza for the Police and RTA. Every time you will see lengthy convoys of cars travelling mere inches from each other at high-speeds. The danger of tailgating is well known, but the drivers are far more terrified of getting caught for what the RTA believes is more dangerous- "speed".

So instead of daring to put their foot down in the overtaking lanes, they stay nose to tail as a living monument to hopeless road safety programs.

When I last drove in America, I was travelling at far higher speed, experiencing none of the anxiety I do on Sydney roads. The prevailing speed was 15-30kmh over the posted limit but everyone was moving similarly and everyone seemed to know what they were doing.

At one stage I saw a highway patrol car cruising the area. My Sydney driving instincts made me slow down immediately, to the annoyance of traffic behind me who started flashing their lights at me.

I will never forget what my American passenger told me: "They won't pull you over for driving quick. Only for driving stupid".

In this country it's the exact opposite.


Anonymous ICW said...

If governments really didn't think of speed cameras as a cash cow, they could easily reduce the monetary penalties for speeding and bump up the demerit point penalties, taking licences off people more readily.

But they don't, leaving one to conclude that speed cameras really are about revenue raising first, road safety a distant second.

10:07 AM  
Anonymous Dan Lewis said...


They could also put speed cameras on every road, or mandate speed limiters in every car sold.

However that would take away the 'sport' and result in nobody ever getting booked, hence no fines revenue.

2:13 PM  
Anonymous ICW said...

In fact Dan, the technology already exists to have a GPS device fitted in your car, which could keep track of your speeds every second you're on the road. It could then be relayed back to a website etc.

I don't think any government would try it on though - far too many shades of Big Brother.

A GPS device attached to the indolent to keep track of their job searching efforts, however - now that's a must!

3:30 PM  
Anonymous duncan said...


I've been pulled over in the US whilst speeding... it happened to be very late at night on a deserted freeway and I was fiddling with the radio.

The copper noticed me weaving a little and just wanted to check I wasn't tired or drunk.

6:03 PM  

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