Why The Government’s Road Safety Strategy Failed
The government’s attempts at lowering the road toll relied on faulty science, says the car review website dogandlemon.com.
Editor Clive Matthew-Wilson, who is an outspoken road safety campaigner, says, “In August of this year, the police announced a ‘zero tolerance’ policy for drivers exceeding the speed limit. Since then, the road toll has rocketed. Why? Because the police persist in targeting the average driver rather than the actually tiny minority that cause most fatal accidents.”
"About 85% of the road toll occurs below, not above, the speed limit. Of this 15% of accidents that occur above the speed limit, almost all are caused by either yobbos, blotto drivers or reckless motorcyclists.”
“I don’t doubt many of the recent accident victims had been speeding, but the police need to understand that the high risk groups are effectively immune to road safety messages.”
Matthew-Wilson says it’s ‘sad’ hearing the head of road policing begging high-risk drivers to behave.
“Has she done any basic research? Fifty years of studies have shown that asking people to drive safely is an expensive waste of time.”
Matthew-Wilson adds that increased fines and demerit points will not lower the road toll.
“Fines work and demerit points work as a deterrent for middle-class people with reasonable incomes. However, they are largely ineffective against the yobbos, blotto drivers and reckless motorcyclists who cause most fatal accidents.”
Matthew-Wilson points to the largest study of fines ever conducted in Australia, which concluded that fines and disqualification do not reduce the risk of offending.
Instead of fines and demerit points, Matthew-Wilson believes the police should confiscate cellphones used by the drivers of moving vehicles and impound cars where the occupants were not wearing seatbelts.
“After a few months of peacefully sending out the message: ‘wear your seatbelt’, the police should start impounding vehicles for a week. That would send out a strong message that would ripple through whole communities.”
“The same applies to drivers using cellphones. For the first offence the driver should lose their cellphone. For the second offence the driver should lose their cellphone and their number as well. For the third offence they should lose their cellphone, their number and also lose the vehicle for a week.”
Matthew-Wilson adds that the government needs to “get its act together” and start the mass installation of roadside fencing and median barriers.
“There is a magic bullet for road smashes: a study by Monash University of the effectiveness of roadside fencing and median barriers concluded that: “reductions of up to 90% in death and serious injury can be achieved, with no evidence of increased road trauma for motorcyclists.”
"We don’t need grand highways, just ordinary roads that stop everyday mistakes turning into tragedy."
Matthew-Wilson also favours speed advisory signs, which simply show motorists what speed they’re doing, without issuing a ticket.
“Speed advisory signs are highly effective at lowering speeds in high risk zones, but they don’t alienate motorists. The fact is, most ordinary drivers will slow down if you remind them that they’re going too fast. The police can then wait around the corner and ticket those who don’t take the hint.”