Even the safest driver is being set up to fail
March 23, 2008, SMH:
HAPPY Easter and welcome to another holiday blessed with double demerit points and draconian fines - all in the guise of lowering the road toll ...So going with the flow justifies breaking the law? Everyone does it, so it's right? If you are tired of the on-off accelerator ordeal, then just drive a little under the speed limit rather than always at the maximum.
In other words, chances are these drivers were travelling with the traffic, paying attention to the conditions, rather than anxiously checking their speedometer every 15 seconds while easing a foot off and on the accelerator in deathly fear of copping a fine and losing three points off their licence ...
... almost every driver is a sitting duck for speeding fines and demerit points. If they are careless or unlucky enough, they will find their licence suspended or cancelled, as was the case for 13 per cent of drivers in 2005. And the very real prospect of jail looms for driving unlicensed. Thus, otherwise law-abiding people are criminalised.Say what? Did you just condone driving unlicensed? Yes, of course, that's the natural response to a law you disagree with - what was I thinking ...
What's more, a NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research report last year revealed nearly one in 10 people born before 1984 - Generation Y - had a criminal record by the time they were 21, mostly for driving offences. That is an absurd statistic, leading inevitably to contempt for the law.Er, no. It may lead to debate and protest over particular laws, but not contempt for the law in general.
In Sydney, speed cameras are often studded along roads which flip-flop between as many as four or five different speed limits over a couple of kilometres. Keeping up with variable limits while navigating traffic and driving safely is a challenge for even the most focused driver.Usually only if you're in a hurry - and that's the real issue isn't it?
Some European traffic planners have gone further, removing traffic signs in town such as Drachten in the Netherlands. Eliminating excessive regulation has resulted in more courtesy on the road, fewer crashes and a psychological shift in drivers taking responsibility for their own behaviour.Maybe for the current generation that has been conditioned with "draconian" laws. But the next generation will challenge all that.
Winning hearts and minds is a lot more useful in reducing road deaths than criminalising the entire driver population. It will also probably free up the traffic and reduce road rage.Whoa, there you go again: bad laws justify road rage? Did someone miss their coffee this morning? What planet are you on Miss Devine?
Have a debate about road laws by all means. But encouraging contempt for the law, justifying driving unlicensed, and justifying road rage are not in the public interest. Unless, that is, one has a touch of Gen-Y and Corey Worthington anarchistic sympathies ...