I feel that I must make some “real life” comments about the recent letter from the CEO of the Traffic Accident Commission Joe Calafiore.
Mr Calafiore, your wonderful safety barriers more than likely would not have made one scrap of difference to the outcome of the truck collision near your home, as the reality is that the momentum of an object is equal to the mass of the object times the velocity of the object.
A truck travelling at 100km/h would require an enormous barrier to prevent it running off the road, far beyond what is being promoted as the panacea for road collisions!
If 28 people died on local country roads last year, and 75 per cent (21) are attributed to “what we call run off road crashes”, why are we as a community, and the TAC and Vicpol putting so much emphasis on enforcing speed and alcohol and drug restrictions?
If many of those people “were not speeding, they had not been drinking or on drugs, they were local people who knew the roads and were obeying the rules, they have simply made a mistake”, then we’ve been barking up the wrong tree for decades.
Most of the fatal and serious injury collisions I attended during my 30 plus years as a highway patrol officer were caused by inappropriate speed, alcohol, drugs and a number of “mistakes” that when put together, cause a situation that ends in a collision.
If the vehicles involved end up “off the road” after the impact, then the Collision Statistic Forms record that and it could be interpreted as “an off road collision” even though the collision may actually have occurred on the road surface.
I have long believed that speed, in itself, is not the main cause of collisions, however combined with any number of “mistakes” such as poor judgement, lack of experience, inappropriate driver actions or reactions, failure to wear seat belts, and many other minor “mistakes”, a collision is inevitable.
And they are not an “accident”, they are collisions, as there is always a reason, or reasons, as to why they occurred!
Flexible safety barriers are growing daily, and I’d suggest most of the allocated money for road improvements in this area (and probably most other areas) has ended up in the pockets of the safety barrier contractors, whilst much of the road surface repairs, realignments and resurfacing has been put on hold. Makers of ‘Rough Surface’ signs would also be on easy street.
Road “safety” barriers have been designed to prevent a vehicle running off the road and steer a vehicle back onto the road surface into the path of oncoming vehicles.
Whether you like it or not, they look after the lowest common denominator, the driver who runs off the road due to negligence, inattention, inability, fatigue, drugs, distraction or any number of reasons.
If that offending vehicle manages to stop before it hits something else, very good.
If it continues on out of control and collides head on with Mum, Dad and the two kids on the way to Grandma’s place, then how can anyone say they are a great idea?
I would much rather an oncoming driver running off the road and hitting a tree, rather than being forced back into the path of my vehicle!
VicRoads has spent millions of dollars on trying to save the lowest common denominator – people who can’t drive, people who will never be able to be saved no matter how much is spent.
The community cannot keep on wrapping drivers in cotton wool. Driving is a dangerous pastime. Anyone sitting in over 1000kg of metal and plastic at over 100km/h is in a very vulnerable position, and when you add a “mistake” or two, who knows what might happen?
Drivers must be responsible for their actions, both on the road and in any later investigation.
Wayne Beale, Leongatha.