Real Road Safety – an idea for Joondalup

Poliscan-Speed-CameraOk, I admit it.  When it comes to driving my car in strict accordance with the gazetted road speed, I may have transgressed the speed limit more than once.   In fact, unless you are diligently checking your speedo every few seconds I am positive that every one of us has.  And, occassionally, for those transgressions I’ve paid the fines.  But have I been driving in a manner that might be considered dangerous when I got them?  That, I believe, is very much open to debate, though in over 25 years of driving the only accident I’ve had was on a road covered in freshly fallen snow a week after I’d passed my test…

Now before you conclude that I’m not an advocate of road safety, then you are very much mistaken. Over the last five years I have given up my own time to sit on a road safety committee, trying to find ways to cut the number of fatalities and serious injuries for motorcyclists. I have even received an outstanding achievement award from the Road Safety Council for my voluntary input to that committee.  But I am very, very wary of what I believe is too great a focus on absolute speed as the main culprit, compared to other practices which are probably far more dangerous, but might be more difficult either enforce or discourage.

I am far from convinced that multinovas and other hidden cameras on suburban roads make our roads safer.  I don’t believe that people are significantly modifying driving their behaviour because of them.  So as a councillor I’d like to press for evidence that shows that a significant change in driver behaviour and hence a lower death and serious injury toll since their rollout (as can very clearly be seen for seat belts, for example).  If statistically significant evidence is forthcoming, then I will be the first to explain it to residents, but if its not, then I’d like to determine whether the council can stop the police putting these random speed cameras on our suburban streets.

Having said that, I would welcome more red light cameras, and you’d hear absolutely no objection from me if they wanted to put cameras on school zones during term time at the appointed hours.  The majority of accidents occur at junctions, so anything that encourages drivers to be that little bit more attentive at these key locations can’t be a bad thing.  And school zones?  Well that speaks for itself.

The reality is that people speed.  A manager at Main Roads informed us that the average speed on a Perth 60kmh road was 66kmh.  This means that for every person adhering to the speed limit, someone else may be travelling at 72kmh.  Think about that.  But are we witnessing mass carnage?  Not a bit.  Indeed, too great a focus on your speedometer, rather than the surrounding environment is, in my experience, more likely to result in an accident.  We need to recognise that most people are not, and don’t intend to be, dangerous road users.  So the government needs to stop treating us as if we are.

If the state government is using speed cameras simply to raise revenue, and many members of the community seem to believe that their purpose is just that, then they need to stop and find a more reasonable way to raise money.  Targeting generally law-abiding citizens is not the way to keep people on side, and it alienates our police force.

So lets move towards evidence based decision making for road safety, not opinion and subterfuge.  I don’t know what power the council has to keep multinovas off our streets, but if it does, I’ll work to replace them with safety measures that are actually effective, and make sure citizens understand how such would work and protect them.




About Steve Laing

Political observer, free thinker and problem solver, Steve contends that the current democratic processes have neither kept up to date with globalisation nor modern business practices, resulting in increasing dissatisfaction with modern politics. However, new technology could be used to not only reconfigure our system, but give the electorate even greater representation than was previously the case. For more background information on Steve, please check his LinkedIn profile.

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