Back in 1970 in Victoria, the road toll hit 1061, that's over 30 deaths per 100,000 which alarmed police and politicians so much that they immediately initiated a public brainwashing campaign to change people's attitudes. They then gradually introduced a raft of measures which became ever more draconian, including: reducing speed limits, introducing new technologies like speed cameras and breath testers, tightening road laws and introducing more savage fines and sanctions for even minor infringements. You can see a nice graph of Victorian annual road toll over the years and points where certain measures were introduced here on the Victorian government's speed camera propaganda website.
The situation has now become so bad that people are terrified to drive in this state now, and those that do are forced to spend almost all of their available consciousness watching the speedo like a hawk, constantly scanning the road sides for speed limit signs and checking their GPS unit for evidence of speed camera positions. So much so that they have little brain time left for the business of actually DRIVING! Despite this, the Government and the Police have made it SO tricky to always get your speed right, and become SO good at catching anyone who makes a mistake, that we are being fined large amounts of money quite regularly and many of us are having our licences revoked for 1 month or longer for minor infractions, sometimes resulting in loss of employment.
The result of this single-minded and inhumane obsession on the part of the Government and the Police is that the road toll has dropped to 287 for the year 2011. This represents a figure of 5.2 deaths per 100,000 population. That's right: draconian measures have reduced the road toll to a sixth of what it was in 1970! Well bravo! I don't think anyone could be upset that less people are being killed on our roads. However, just possibly, the damage done by the means IS NOT justified by the ends. Consider the figure of 5.2 deaths per 100,000: That's 1 in 19,230. You would need to have met 19,230 different people to have known one who had died in a road accident last year. Do you know 19 thousand people? Of course you don't! How many people do you actually spend time with and care about? Less than 100 I'll bet. So the odds of anyone you know and care about dying of road trauma last year were roughly 190 to 1. Not exactly an epidemic is it?
Yes, it is sad for the 1 in 190 who lost someone they actually KNEW last year, but even then, only those who were REALLY close to the deceased, such as parents, children, siblings and close friends are going to bear any serious, permanent pain and the odds of you being one of those in any given year are more like 1 in 2,000. I don't wish to downplay the pain of a father that has needlessly lost his daughter, or 3 children that have had their mother taken from them, or a wife who has lost her husband, certainly theirs is a genuine tragedy, but SUCH PEOPLE ARE RARE! The great majority of people in this country will go through their entire lives without ever losing someone close due to road trauma.
And yet we are bombarded with ads featuring the government's pitbull: Officer Ken Lay, making us feel like a MURDERER every time we take our eyes off the speedo for 10 seconds and find we have accidentally exceeded the limit by 5kph. We have our money STOLEN from us by a revenue hungry government and an incentivised Police force and are brainwashed into thinking it's fair. And we can no longer ENJOY the simple pleasure of driving a motor vehicle, nor can we do it properly, thanks to the requirement that 90% of our cognition must be devoted to the taxing task of ensuring our speed remains within the constantly varying and somewhat arbitrary limits imposed by the aforesaid revenue-hungry government and incentivised Police force. We suffer all this in silence, and for what? So that 1 in 5,000 in any given year don't lose a loved one? Or is it simply A BIG NEW TAX?
To compare these death rates with some other developed nations consider the following death rates per 100,000: New Zealand in 2011 had 6.4, (8.5 the year before), Great Britain in 2010 had 3.1, (3.7 the year before), Germany in 2010 had 4.5, Italy in 2010 had 6.6, Netherlands in 2010 had 3.9, France in 2010 had 6.2, the USA in 2010 had 10.5, (14.7 in 2005)! The developed western European nations have a roughly similar, (some larger, some smaller), death rate, despite less restrictive policing strategies, but this is largely due their compact size, with shorter journeys, better roads, better public transport and greater congestion to slow things down. Comparing Australia to the USA, which is of similar physical size, shows much better how effective our draconian regime has been in reducing the death toll. Yes, our death rate is HALF that of the USA, but I'll bet their driving experience is considerably more relaxed and enjoyable, especially outside the larger cities.
If you want to know how bad it can REALLY get however, I advise you to consult Wikipedia's survey of road deaths across all nations. We have truly NOTHING to complain about when you look at the deaths per 100,000 vehicles in places like India (315), Russia (55), China (446), Senegal (1413) and Ethiopia (11,667). Now THEY are the people who need a heavy handed approach to speed cameras, not us!
Now I happen to know, from my own experience, that I have lost a big chunk of my free cognitive awareness while driving these days, thanks to incessantly scanning my instruments and the road verges and thinking ahead, in the GAME of: "keeping beneath the speed limit". I am also very stressed behind the wheel now, because the game has become SO HARD to play, that it requires all my concentration, and I am constantly on edge, knowing that the slightest mistake could result in a HEFTY fine.
I have no doubt that this has impaired my driving quality. Sure, I can still drive, but my awareness of factors not relating to speed has GREATLY diminished. I am aware of the car in front, and which lane to be in next, but that's about it. I have no time to look ahead or sideways for potential traffic dangers and the stress I'm under means that I am more likely to make the wrong decision in an unforeseen situation and more likely choose a risky path.
I know that other people experience these same factors, and there's is no doubt in my mind that for these reasons the cure has become counterproductive, but what do the Government think? Well, here is their response on that very matter from Ted Ballieu's own propaganda page: camerassavelives.vic.gov.au
Question: Does looking out for cameras and at your speedo all the time actually cause more casualties than the cameras prevent?
Answer: If you're travelling at or under the lawful speed, there's no need to be looking out for a camera. Driving is a multi-task activity that requires concentration at all times. Drivers have to pay attention to a number of operational and environmental factors. If you do not look at your speedometer there is no way to tell what speed you are travelling. Checking your speed should be as natural as checking your mirrors.
This is a politician's answer. They are smacking you in the face with their MESSAGE and making no attempt to answer the question. Note that the writer at no stage tells you whether losing most of your free cognitive awareness actually CAUSES accidents. What are they hiding? Perhaps they already HAVE statistics to prove exactly that!
And check out the condescending attitude: "If you're travelling at or under the lawful speed, there's no need to be looking out for a camera." Oh yeah? What about looking out for little speed signs that are so easy to miss? And as for checking the speedo: "Checking your speed should be as natural as checking your mirrors." Oh yeah? Well I remember when checking my speedo WAS as natural as checking my mirrors, that was a long time ago and IT AIN'T LIKE THAT NOW!!!
There is also the matter of speeding while overtaking. According to state law you are NOT allowed to exceed the speed limit whilst overtaking. Now clearly, this law is STUPID and DANGEROUS and has, no doubt, led to a number of deaths. Precisely how many deaths the Government doesn't want to know and isn't likely to say. Consider this scenario: You are caught behind a B-double truck doing 90 kph, so you decide to overtake. That B-double could be 26m long, meaning that at 100kph it will take you 10 seconds, just to get from one end of it to the other. In addition, you need time to accelerate, time to get up to his rear and time to leave safe space before you pull back in. Altogether you are looking at being stuck on the wrong side of the road for around 20 seconds. Oncoming traffic will be coming toward you at 100kph relative to the ground, but relative to you it is coming at 200kph! That combined speed means that in 20 seconds a car that was 1100 metres away when you started your overtaking manoeuvre will hit you before you get back on your own side. Can you see 1100 metres ahead? In the outback: quite possibly, on most Victorian roads: HIGHLY UNLIKELY! This means that on Victorian single lane roads it is virtually NEVER possible to legally overtake a long truck!
If, however, you were to do what all sane people with their life in their hands do, ie accelerate up to AT LEAST 120kph, then your differential speed relative to the truck would be 3 times as great and it will only take you 3 seconds to get from one end of the truck to the other. It still takes time to accelerate, get out and get in, but all together you can easily overtake the truck in 10 seconds. In order to avoid oncoming traffic you then only need to be able to see 550m ahead, something that is far more achievable in a state like Victoria.
Modern cars have a great of power on tap and when you put your pedal to the metal to get maximum acceleration, (as you should, to achieve minimum time on the wrong side of the road), you can easily exceed 120kph without realising it. 130kph could easily come up before you are halfway around the truck. A police car coming the other way can see this speed on his radar, drop a U-bolt, turn on his flashing lights, nip around the B-double at 160kph, (in 5 seconds), pull you over, hit you with a $400 fine and take your licence away. And for what? Because you overtook a slow truck in the SAFEST WAY POSSIBLE!
"The law is an ass.", as has been said before, and this is a glaring example. The cheap politicians around the world who have insisted on this insane restriction HAVE BLOOD ON THEIR HANDS, and likewise the police officers who have enforced it. This wrong-headed approach is the natural response of weak minded, populist politicians who's sole strategy for leading society is to pander to the ignorant fears of the lowest common denominator. A quality democracy needs something better from it's politicians and police. Fortunately there ARE some places in the world where common sense has over-ruled stupidity and you ARE allowed to speed to overtake. For example: in Washington State in the USA, RCW 46.61.425 provides that: "a person following a vehicle driving at less than the legal maximum speed and desiring to pass such vehicle may exceed the speed limit ...". Too bad such common sense has gone missing from Australia's parliaments.
It's not only B-doubles that make it necessary to speed to overtake: Caravans are another classic case, and then there are the arseholes who speed up to prevent you overtaking them, even though they were travelling well below the speed limit. Such filth are nothing more than man slaughterers in expensive 4WDs. They won't let you past on a single lane and they speed up massively when there's an overtaking lane, so that you can't legally pass them there either. Then they slow back down again, chortling at the frustration they are needlessly inflicting on the innocent. It is NOT ACCEPTABLE that the law requires you to crawl along behind these arseholes so that they can lead a great, slow moving convoy along our single lane highways. And such people are NOT rare! We have all experienced it many, many times. I would even venture to estimate that perhaps a third of all large 4WDs travelling 90-95kph are of such contemptible ilk. The ONLY solution is to speed to get around them!
Fuck the Government and their incentivised, brainwashed, lapdog Police! Just check this quote: "If you have to exceed the limit to overtake, then the overtake isn't necessary." Pure condescending, ill-informed, incorrect drivel. We shouldn't be standing for this sort of crap from our leaders. WAKE UP SHEEPLE! Write to your local State MP whenever you experience a dangerous situation from overtaking limitations or receive a wrong-headed speeding fine because you overtook safely. It is only by threatening their re-election that our pathetic parliaments will change the law.
Pretty much all of us who own a car and are under the age of 60 have been booked speeding, most of us multiple times. I don't actually know any inveterate speeders, so all the fines levied upon my friends and family have been for minor infractions caused by a momentary loss of concentration, a lack of familiarity with speed changes along a particular road, or downright predatory strategies by an officious police force. At the time of writing, fines varied from $153 to $611. It's quite easy to be 10kph over for a brief period of time and the fine for that is $244, (along with a quarter of your total demerit points). Unless you're well-off that's quite a heavy penalty, and for the unemployed it is simply crippling!
There are something like 5 million licenced drivers in Victoria today and if we all cop a $200 fine once a year that equates to revenue of 1 BILLION dollars! A significant bucket of cash, and to coin a phrase: A BIG NEW TAX! We have all observed the way governments love to levy taxes over the years, and since simply increasing the GST or income tax rates is considered political suicide, they invariably find new and sneaky ways to extract money from businesses and the public. Many people have come to the conclusion that speed cameras are primarily a taxation device, despite the disingenuous utterances of both sides of politics in recent years, that they are EXCLUSIVELY there to save lives.
So who is telling the truth? My off-the-cuff estimation is VERY different from the Victorian Government's own figures, which they claim to be just $201 million. Is the Victorian Government lying? Perhaps they have some way of hiding the additional revenue in another category? Or perhaps my estimate is simply way off the mark? Ask yourself: How often do the people you know receive a speeding fine? ... An indication that the Government regard fines as a revenue stream (ie a TAX), is that fact that Victorian Premier: Ted Ballieu , substantially increased all fines IN ORDER TO ACHIEVE A SURPLUS! The spineless, shifty, weak-minded, spoilt little rich boy.
Never before in Australia have we seen such evidence of a Big Brother as we see today: Massive sums of taxpayers money are spent daily in advertisements across all media to JUSTIFY the Government's actions, PROMOTE their reelection and to QUASH any public opposition to their policies. Such action is not only UNDEMOCRATIC, it is downright UNAUSTRALIAN! Our forefathers, who made the great Australian character the down-to-earth, no-bullshit, practical masterpiece that it was, would NEVER have stood for such corruption, and the newspapers of the past would have howled down the disgraceful practices visited upon us today. Not only are we being BRAINWASHED sheeple, but we are being brainwashed WITH OUR OWN MONEY!
You turn on your TV and are met with an extreme, unbalanced, authoritarian view of speed, personified by such merciless, uncompromising characters as Officer Ken Lay and his colleagues. You drive down the street and are greeted by huge billboards SHOUTING that "Speed Kills" and ORDERING you to "Wipe Off 5". This is NOT advice, this is NOT education, this is BRAINWASHING, of the crudest and most brutal kind. This is the kind of thing we decry when it is done in China or Iran, yet you go to the footy and see the same slogans plastered over your beloved team. FFS is nothing sacred?
You go to your own government's website and are met by condescending, unbalanced, twisted arguments like the following:
Question: I was only a few kilometres over the limit. That’s not really speeding. Why should I be punished?
Answer: Research shows in a 60 km/h zone, the risk of a crash doubles at just five km/h over the speed limit. In a crash, travelling a few kilometres per hour over the limit can mean the difference between life and death. For example, a car braking from 65 km/h will still be travelling at 32 km/h at the point where a vehicle braking from 60 km/h has already stopped. If speeding is not the cause of the crash, it has a direct bearing on the chances of it being fatal and the severity of injuries.
Does anyone believe this shit? What they are REALLY saying, is that in a VERY NARROW band of possible scenarios, the risk of a crash is doubled. For the great majority of situations however, it makes little difference. But that's not what this message is. The message is that if you do 65 in 60 zone you will KILL people. Absurd rubbish that no mathematician would put up with and yet it is the "UNQUESTIONABLE" voice of the Government. Voice of BIG BROTHER more likely!
Question: Why aren't the police out catching burglars instead of harassing 'easy prey' motorists?
Answer: Automated road safety cameras actually free up police time to focus on other criminal matters. By detecting speed and red-light offences, road safety cameras allow police more time to prosecute other offences, such as dangerous and impaired driving. Breaking the speed limit and going through a red-light are serious offences that kill and injure many people every year.
More subtle double-talk and brainwashing: By stopping you speeding the police can get you for dangerous driving??? Pull the other one! And check the sting in the tail. The heavy handed message is there in black and white: If you speed or go through a red light, even by accident: you are a KILLER! Making you out to be a killer means that your guilt will be so great that you will not question the whole business and you will simply pay the TAX. This is basic dictator's psychology, straight out of 1984.
Speeding can be dangerous, there's no doubt about that. The square of the velocity in the kinetic energy formula means that high speed accidents WILL cause massive deformation to any vehicle in the collision. If your body happens to be substantially deformed as well then you will likely be injured or killed. There's no question about this. HOWEVER, speed is only deadly if you crash! It's the crash that kills, NOT the speed. To blindly target ALL speed as the killer is narrow minded and foolish. What should be targeted is INAPPROPRIATE speed. For example: speeding whilst overtaking is actually SAFER than attempting to overtake at the speed limit.
All road deaths are regrettable to the general population and they are TRAGEDIES for those who have lost a loved one. This also is unquestionable. HOWEVER there is a limit to the extent to which society of almost 6 million people should go to, just to save a hundred people a year. I know it's hard for those who've lost a love one, but at some point, THE CURE IS WORSE THAN THE DISEASE!
I drive all over Victoria over the course of the year and have been stuck in Melbourne's traffic with the rest of us and there can be no doubt: PEOPLE NO LONGER SPEED! You sit on a 3 lane freeway and EVERY lane is doing exactly 100kph. You travel up a suburban artery and EVERY car is doing 70kph. You sit on a rural highway and EVERY car is doing 100kph. NO ONE SPEEDS ANY MORE! Sure, they used to a decade ago, but not any more, not for years. Speed cameras have done their job! The result has been achieved, as far it can be, and it is time for the state government to relax the campaign somewhat and give us all a break. Excessive speed policing is stressful and dangerous for the very people it is supposed to protect.
We have all been hit with speed fines, despite our best efforts to stay within the limit, and when you look at revenue resulting from that you can see that it is very significant, especially if you consider the possibility that the Government figures are hiding some rather creative accounting. Governments and the Police have been chasing speed infringement revenue like a large business chases a profit: full savagery, straight at the jugular. A government is NOT a commercial business, and they should NOT be chasing profit, nor should our police force. If they need more money they should raise taxes in the conventional way.
Finally, brainwashing the credulous population with on-message authoritarians, parroting unbalanced science and selective statistics is NOT acceptable conduct from our elected leaders who are spending our money. It is DICTATORIAL, CONDESCENDING and SELF INTERESTED and IT HAS GOT TO STOP!
Warren Mars - May 30, 2012