Sigh. I really can't think of a better word to explain my feelings about QLD transports new campaign to reduce the QLD road toll. Named Campaign 300, QLD transport with the help of QLD police have again set on a crusade to reduce the road toll to below 300.
Now if your wondering why I am not overtly enthusiastic about the new campaign, you can first start of by reading my article about reducing the road toll using a new approach. My point is simple, more speed cameras, random breath/drug tests, tougher laws on younger drivers, double points and fines do not save lives. Campaign 300 is nothing but a campaign of fear designed, once again, by a generation which fails to understand or grasp the grass root problems of the increasing road toll.
Being a Queenslander myself, I can honestly say that QLD transport and QLD police are an absolute nightmare to deal with. Not only on the road but also even in person, we have sent countless complaints to QLD transport begging them to provide some sort of evidence to show that more speed cameras will save lives, but of course, they have not replied, because there is no evidence to suggest this.
Now Car Advice is a new site, aimed mainly at the younger crowd of car enthusiasts, those who love their cars and spend a great deal of time and money taking care of their car. It is also aimed at the general population who seek information and advice about the state of the Austrailan Car Industry. So whenever I write an article like this, we get a great deal of feedback from not only the 18-30 crowd but also the moms an dads of teenagers who worry about their sons and daughters on the road.
One thing is crystal clear. Almost everyone has lost faith in Speed Cameras. I have not found one person under 30 who is passionate about cars and doesn't believe that speed cameras are here to make money as oppose to save lives. If QLD transport thinks otherwise, then I have a brilliant idea. Every time a person receives a speeding ticket for more than 20km/hr, instead of the $250 ticket, the culprit has to book themselves into an advanced driving course (which cost around $250). Not only will this make them a better driver and help reduce the road toll, but it will also prove that QLD transport is not simply after $.
So back to campaign 300. QLD transport lists the following "new" approaches to reducing the road toll:
- More speed cameras
- Roadside drug testing
- More audible line markings on our roads to make them safer
- More rest stops
- Double demerit points for repeat speed offenders
- Vehicle impoundment and alcohol ignition interlocks for repeat drink drivers.
So lets go through these new innovative and revolutionary ideas one by one.
1. More speed cameras
Yep, Speed Cameras solve the worlds problems, Australian transport authorities seem to have this delusion that speed cameras save lives. Countless overseas studies have proven otherwise. Infact in many circumstances, it has been shown that speed cameras create unnecessary stress on drivers which leads to lower driving standards which lead to more accidents. One of our readers had a brilliant way to describe the speed camera phenomenon.
Throughout the history of mankind, the life of an individual has been a cheap commodity. It still is. We’re not being whipped into building a pyramid anymore but we are being manipulated and programmed to believe that our salvation lies under the speed limit. In reality, it lies in having an intimate knowledge of our own limits behind the wheel. Seane
QLD transport obviously disagrees, as they believe that to a be a safe driver, all you need to know is how to pass your driving test, and stay under the speed limit. Yep, so make sure you can parallel park, because failure to know how to get your parallel park the first time may result in your death. Also make sure you obey the 40km/h speed limit due to road work sign on the highway at 3am in the morning despite the fact that there is never ever any actual road work taking place.
However, despite my sarcasm, its obvious that QLD transport want the best for us - they want us to stop killing ourselves and others on the road, this is what they have to say:
We want to reduce the road toll through new licensing rules, regulations and better education for our young drivers. We're determined to stop the carnage on our roads. But we can't do it alone. We need the commitment of every Queensland driver. QLD transport
Well QLD transport, let me be the first to put my hand up and say, you do not have my commitment. By new licensing rules, they are of course speaking of the tough new young driver restrictions. Which are set to limit drivers to what cars they can drive and also enforce a curfew on the number of passengers young drivers can take. And by education they mean the P1/P2 system which forces all new drivers to undergo a written hazard test to progress from P1 to P2. Yep, a hazard test.
If QLD transport was serious about effective changes to licensing laws, they should start with requiring all 4WD owners to acquire a new 4WD license, meaning that 4WD drivers should not only pass their license test in THEIR vehicle but also can justify the need for a 4WD in an urban environment. Also instead of a simple "no" to high powered cars for provisional drivers, they should introduce compulsory advanced driving courses for all new young drivers. It is essential that all young drivers know the limits of their cars, and more theoretical tests are not going to do this!
So lets move on from the speed cameras now, I can write another 10,000 words why Speed Cameras are an ineffective method of reducing the road toll, but I've made my point for now.
2. Roadside drug testing
Fear. Roadside drug testing? Dear god, what has society come to! Okay, its obvious that there are those among us who are under the influence of drugs whilst behind the wheel, but unlike random breath tests, chances of catching them is relatively slim. Police currently have the power to ask any driver they see as unfit to drive to undergo a drug test, so these new roadside drug testing centres are going to make this easier and become a nightmare on QLD roads.
How do they work? Well its similar to an RBT, you get pulled over, a sample of cells is taken from you mouth and this is tested for legal and illegal drugs that can be harmful to driving. Roadside drug testing went through a series of trials in NSW in 2004, and some of the interesting points that came out of the trial are:
- The court system could be tied up by drivers disputing the effects of a particular drug. So the tax payers have to pay for every driver who wishes to dispute their drug conviction. Simply put, the presence of drugs does not necessarily equate to impaired driving.
- Can you imagine having to wait on the side of the road when you are in a hurry for your drug test results? This will lead to speeding to make up for lost time!
- It is proven fact that some drugs even lead to increased reaction time, hence better driving! The US airforce has been giving its pilots "speed" since ww2!
Dr Adam Winstock, conjoint senior lecturer for the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre said
drugs aren't like alcohol, they vary in strength and quality. And, in some cases, it could be argued small doses of speed actually enhance driving, whereas large doses could severely impair it.
Now I am not saying, dont do the drug testing because its too hard, but I am saying that its going to be a nightmare to sort out all the little problems, and who is to say which drug can impair driving for which person? Drugs have all sorts of different reactions for different people. It is not a blanket 'you took cough medicine so you shouldn't be driving' scenario!
3. More audible line markings on our roads to make them safer
I guess I can't really fault this approach. But I do beg QLD transport to undergo an internal investigation into making sure when road work signs are on the road, that actual road work is taking place.
4. More rest stops
How often do you take a rest stop? Transport authorities say that you should pull over and rest for 10 mins ever 2 hours. What a joke!? Hardly anyone does that on long distant trips. I can see the 5hr mark being more accurate. However more rest stops are always welcome.
5. Double demerit points for repeat speed offenders
Why not just take their license away? Thats the point of this new law isn't it? Double demerit points for repeat speed offenders is not going todo anything. Why is it so hard for QLD transport to realize that any campaign set to reduce speeding offenders doesn't work if its fueled by fear! If you've ever been pulled over for a speeding ticket, dealt with the police officer, received your yellow infringement notice, you are generally really angry. You are not angry at your self for speeding, but you are angry for being caught.
Every speeding incident is different, I would be lying if i said I have not exceeded the speed limit deliberately countless times, its when your internal sense of logic says that its safe to speed. Usually your logic is wrong as it does not take into effect the thousands of possibilities that can quickly change a "safe to speed" scenario into an accident, but that has never stopped me from going 100 in an 80 zone at 3am in the morning on my way home.
Double demerit points won't change that either. Why is it that we pin speeding as the single biggest culprit for causing accidents? Why can't QLD transport be tougher on bad drivers, why can't they fine drivers who are unable to merge onto the highway, or travel 60 in an 80 zone, these drivers are just as dangerous as speeding drivers. Infact I am almost willing to say that slow drivers are an antecedent reason for speeding drivers. There is nothing more frustrating than being stuck behind a slow driver, it will make you speed up to pass them.
6. Vehicle impoundment and alcohol ignition interlocks for repeat drink drivers.
This sounds like a great idea, in theory, but why are repeat drink drivers even on the road in the first place? We need significantly harder penalties on drink driving, but all within reason - all these blanket approaches are not going to work. Putting a alcohol ignition interlock on a vehicle will be very hard to police, and it will limit that driver to only driving vehicles with an interlock.
I have always wondered why the police don't want to provide the most basic and easy deterrent to stop drink driving. What is that you ask? Free Breathalyzers in central night spot locations. I have personally asked police officers for a breath test prior to getting in my vehicle, and they have refused, sighting that i should not be drinking at all if i plan to drive (absolute rubbish) and also that if they breathalyze me and i come clear, and I get pulled over by another cop who finds me over the limit, they will be in a legal nightmare.
In otherwords, its just too hard, in that instance, the police actually followed me to my car, watched me get in my car, drive 5M down the road and then pulled me over. I was clear ofcourse, but it would have been nice to have known that prior to getting in my car. There needs to be free breathalyzers provided by QLD transport around all major nightspot venues to allow potential drink drivers to know whether or not they are actually over the limit!
So that is campaign 300, and whilst I wish QLD transport the bets of luck in reducing the road toll, I am one QLD driver who is not committed to simply sitting here and swallowing QLD transport's fear campaign and utter lies. Speed cameras dont save lives. Fear campaigns never work. There needs to be a new approach to reducing the road toll!