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by George Skentzos

Mark Skaife, Australian V8 Supercar driver and Holden Ambassador, has come under fire from Victorian Premier John Brumby after presenting a proposal to make Australia’s roads safer by employing a more European approach to speed and driver training – a view long held by CarAdvice.

In his proposal, Skaife highlights the fundamental flaws of Australia’s current road system including the desperate need for improved young driver training and increasing the number of safer cars on our roads.

Unfortunately with the demonization of speeding engrained in the minds of Australian motorists and politicians, Skaife’s suggestion to bump the national speed limit up to 140km/h has become the sole focus of the proposal with Premier Brumby saying that it would have a “catastrophic impact” by sending the death toll soaring.

“We have no plans to change the speed limit,” Premier John Brumby said. “You will never lower your road toll if you have a top speed limit of 140km/h — indeed, if you drive at that speed in Victoria you will lose your licence. It is a hoon driving offence.”

Following years of road safety campaigns convincing the Australian public that “every kay over is a killer”, the proposal is struggling to gain momentum in parliament with Deputy Commissioner (Traffic) Ken Lay backing Premier Brumby in rejecting the plan.

This has left Skaife noticeably frustrated with the majority of his opposition misinterpreting the core initiatives of his proposal to improve the standard of safety on our roads.

“He’s missed some of the critical pillars of what I was saying — improved driver training, better roads and maintenance and encouraging people to drive safer cars,” Mark Skaife said.

“Don’t just focus on the one thing that is controversial, focus on the other items that are critical to road safety, the things we have to do to make a difference and then comment on whether the 140 limit is appropriate,” he said.

Skaife has cited the German approach to road safety as the benchmark for which Australia’s current system should be judged, pointing out that despite having no speed limits on parts of its freeway network Germany still remains at the forefront of road safety.

He also emphasised that the lack of driver training coupled with the fact that younger motorists are less likely to be able to afford newer, safer vehicles is the main reason why P-platers are still so well represented in Australia’s road toll.

Despite boasting the statistics to back the common-sense initiatives he proposes, Skaife’s words have fallen on deaf ears with the majority adhering to the ‘speed kills’ mantra and immediately condemning his suggestions.

In contrast, the government has formulated its own campaign to stem the road toll in the form of the new Hoon laws which continue to punish and condemn offenders after the fact rather than instigating a proactive solution to save lives.

Source: Herald Sun




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