a,b,c, licences   Leave a comment

Since there is not much of common sense in parliament, it is necessary to explain the obvious.

Nobody buy a tractor to take one’s family to the church, though you may argue…  Nobody buy a sporty car to move sheep and farming staff nor to go quietly shopping with huge boot. Those vehicles were not built for that purpose. If you want a family wagon, you do not buy a porshe or another “hot car”.  Rather than to engage in irrational discussion of what it could be used for, the proposal is to get real, get down from the parliamentary hights and to introduce a sensible training system. Why? again what is common sense, politicians have no idea about and must be explained. It is logical that taxi driver, bus driver, and truck driver have to have much better driver training than a common driver. Why? The simple physics tells us that the heavier and faster the more damage inflicts in case of collision.  In real life, on real Adelaide streets the taxi drivers have no clue that they have to stand just before the white line on an intersection over the sensing loop to trigger light change. Often they actually block the traffic behind. Not only ethnic taxi drivers have no IQ nor knowledge (as already stated on other pages there is no adequate driver training in SA) of rules and driving techniques, but also local high school students a priviledged drivers with letter P displayed, have no idea about the sensing loop. All that apply to any bigger and heavier vehicle. It is also more than obvious to anyone who has sufficient knowledge and understanding of road rules and understanding of the safety issues that most women and other drivers drives badly primarily because they have no idea of how to drive safely, nobody taught them proper driving. Police also drives very poorly. When between 55 and 100% of drivers tailgate than this same proportion apply to a general bad driving.

As discussed today by phone here is the outline of the most important problems and some solutions. What is not included is issue of police. Police officers do not know the road rules as they should (few know well and absolutely most does not), and also police does not hesitate to offend cyclists, and police is openly refusing to take reports of dangerous driving, and police is not allowed to investigate the actual cause of crash (i wan the compensation in court for being hit when i cycled but government made sure that police will not find the cause of the dangerous driver to crash, nor to punish one, nor to require one to improve the driving practice.

Let me bring today’s events 4/7/08. On my way to sick person on the other side of the city, i was subjected to countless dangerous drivers. I’ve noted 5 more outstanding ones and rang 13144 number to report to police. The police woman blantly said that she is not going to take any more than just one at a time. I insisted or protested that she either take all or none, she consulted with manager and got all. I experienced such police lack of interest number of times in the past. Here police is showing lack of interest in safety and discourages public to report. One driver in today’s report offended twice. This was tow track who was the outstanding offender and final time he drove into major road North East Rd without stoppind and without care at all and forced me to dramatically change lane otherwise i would crash with him. Earlier today this same driver near North Adelaide bullied me and tailgated as close as 10cm and i feared that he will crush me. Police woman taking this report have told me that if i want this driver will be punished, i must go to police station and report.

Mr Premier, it is all wrong. The offences on the road are so numerous that my life would be a full time reporter and my home would be on police station just reporting all cases. I do not wish to waste my time to go to police station to satisfy anyone especially when i know that it is pointless anyway. Nobody in S.A. Will prosecute this extremely dangerous driver, nor require one for the first time in his life to undertake proper driving course.

Mr Premier, you have allowed this to happen, your police is not interested in road safety nor understand it, and those officers who do, are not allowed to do what they know is right. Trying to justify rather than accuse anyone, I’d like to point that tailgating is not only tolerated by police, and police is also tailgating themselves, but also police have told me that they refuse to enforce the 2s following rule. (i explain it later). My estimation is that perhaps more than 75% all drivers do tailgate excessively and more than 50% is breaking half the prescribed distance which is 1s or translated to 16m. And this is just one type of offence. So literally it is impossible for me to report all offences and also i am not police, nor paid for this.

Road rules

Road rules in Australia are a joke. Some rules are directly conflicting. Very apparent is the lack of priority road rule. This creates the impossible situation legally. Just imagine that you are driving on a major road. To start with this is already illegal in Australia because there are no legal major roads (there is no definition). When I have questioned traffic experts to show me rules which explain which road is major, they said: every child knows. So you are driving on the road you “feel” it is a priority road and you keep going without even thinking to give way to all those on “you feel minority roads” crossing your road and are on your right hand. Well, it is clear rule to give way to all to your right, and no rule that you are on the priority road, yet you, nor anybody gives way to the right. If a driver try to do it, one would cause traffic problem and/or danger. I wander what magistrate would rule there incase of crash. So by design, road rules do introduce conflict and force people to drive illogically and unconsciously to ignore stupid authorities.

Another situation that is conflicting is a give way to the driver on your right and no sign to you. In absence of priority road rule, you have a clear rule to give way to those on your right, but a stupid authorities put give way sing to the driver whom you must give way. Legally they must stay for ever and ever and not allowed to move.

I’ve heard very unintelligent explanation that priority rule is not acceptable in Australia because drivers treat it as absolute priority and fail to stop to prevent collision. Similarly we have the dilemma that drivers are too confused over the speed limit in metropolitan Adelaide when there are many limit figures. Let me spell my personal opinion. Assuming that on each road there are signs indicating the speed limit and this is confusing to drivers, than those who are confused are not capable of holding a drivers licence. Either they are illiterate, do not care for signs, or it is to complex to respond to the sign, they are not capable of making a prompt decision while driving. They should be taken their licence. Assuming that signs are not comprehensive that is you may enter a road and not meet the speed limit sign, than road authority is not fit to be responsible for road management. In my practice, I am sure both cases are true. There are parts of the roads that are not marked properly by sign and any call to paint on the road surface is only confusion.

I have experienced that the rules are there but not treated as rules by police and by the public, so they are only there to confuse. In fact in general (with some exceptions), drivers in Australia drive largely not by rules at all but by culture. The street culture and official culture pushed by police like driving just at the speed limit. Those rules imposed by police to drive at speed limit are not written but enforced by police by so called fines for too slow driving. This is not only a dangerous practice but also dangerous and against the rules. The effect is clear, drivers do drive fast to avoid confrontation with police. This particular culture I’ve been told many times is so embedded in Sydney that you are in trouble there if you do not keep it. I propose that rules are made comprehensive as indicated above and the only rules that are truly rules should be published and policed. Uprooting culture is very hard and especially when police enforce it. Logically it would be to start education of police, but it may be too hard and perhaps importing police from European countries would be much more effective. Another manifestation of culture driving is an outcry of drivers that many speed limit zones in the metropolitan area is too confusing. This is because As Australia got first cars until now, the road signs were never used as in civilised countries to indicate the way of driving. Drivers drive by what they used to. Rule makers made sure that road signs are meaningless. An example of such sign is a give way to the driver on your right at the intersection and lack of priority sign for you. When I point to police that you in absence of priority sign for you, must observe the rule of giving way to those on your right. Police answers me in their wisdom: “those on your right have give way sign.” When I argue: “they know that they must give you way, and you know that you must give way to them due to give way to the right rule”. Police argue again, “can’t you see they have sign”? My final point is : “their sigh is for them to observe and to apply, not to me, to me applies only right hand rule”The point is that road rules are useless in Australia and hardly anybody tries to drive by them. It is high time to change radically the driving system and drive by new rules rather than police and street culture.Many drivers have so low IQ that they cannot comprehend the rules nor the idea of safe and smooth driving.

Let me highlight the superimportant rules that are neglected by government but have to be enforced. The rule of following at safe distance of more than 2s behind another car. So called tailgating is chronic braking of this rule and is responsible for majority of city crashes often multiple. Police hardly ever fines anyone for that. This is very serious for cars and often fatal for cyclists. Please be serious.

Another problem is that life on the road is very cheap, that is government does no treat it seriously. There should be a rule that drink driving and killing to be treated as murder.

There should be a rule that drivers must not bully but allow cyclists to change line and/or to complete manoeuvre like a turn or cross. There should be a rule that in most cases the cyclist should have priority to complete a turn, not the most powerful or heavier vehicle. There should be associated rule as is in Holland that in case of crash, the car driver should be guilty for cyclists death or injury, regardless what cyclist did. Sure if cyclist did something clearly unavoidable or exceptionally wrong, than one would be responsible. In essence the more powerful is responsible for more vulnerable.

At present the road rules do not allow cyclists and car drivers to use road safely. In other words the drivers have no rules requiring or informing them how to behave when there is a cyclist on the road. Let me use practical example. Police and rules say that cyclist legally can occupy whole line. Also they advice that cyclists should ride as close as possible to the left. There is nothing to instruct drivers how to behave in presence of cyclist. In practice when I ride the most left, and many dangerous drivers push me to the kerb or out of the road, I do claim whole line and feel awful that was provoked to do so. In additional I feel and also hear frustrated drivers behind me knowing they all of us can move freely and without so much adrenalin secreted, but in fact despite the adrenaline, the sounding horns, most drivers actually change line and go in frustration leaving me on the road ans safe. I do appeal to authorities, please teach drivers of how to share the road so I will not be endangered on my usual path near the kerb and move to the centre line only when necessary like turning right. The current problem in my observation occur due to lack of rules and due to mental problems many drivers have and they can’t stand a slow cyclist or anyone on their way. In practice the situation is so bad than many drivers almost hit me and the absolutely worst are privileged or P plate drivers. They are very aggressive and frustrated to a boiling point. I appeal to treat it seriously because I do ride bicycle full time that is I have no car so I am at constant danger. Secondly such behaviour is what produces horror in the minds of any parent when they get suggestion to send their child to school or anywhere on the road by bicycle. Two things would definitely make a huge difference:

  • to introduce a comprehensive rules of bicycles included on the road
  • to punish severely drivers who kill or injure or even threaten cyclist

Detection of offence

In addition to the usual methods like police personal observation, equipment detection, it should be legislated that any member of the public should be able to report any road violence, safety compromise or antisocial or criminal behaviour as well as excessive environmental impact like smoky exhaust or throwing cigarettes or rubbish through the window.

In practical terms, I propose to establish a free 1800 phone line operating non stop to report all abnormalities on the road from anyone of any age. Even children should be able to report when for example something wrong happens against them on school yard, when roller skating in the park, when cycling, going to or from school etc. Sure some sort of identification and judgment should be exercised and hawks to be punished. All complaints should be verified by police (more police is initially needed) and if warranted, a fine or caution eventually referral be issued. So there would be no argument that someone who hates me has dobbed me. If I do something wrong, it is immaterial if friend or a foe had dobbed me.

Police should actively scan (drive just to detect bad behaviour or dangerous practices) in unmarked cars with video cameras to detect such behaviour as unreasonable acceleration/deceleration, cutting in front, tailgating, yelling at others, wheel spinning, excessive stereo, or a street chasing as well as deliberate driving to create noise like Harley motorbikes do and also many street cars do with their modified machines. The most important to detect would be detection and witness of tailgating which is a major cause of avoidable crashes, cutting in front, disallowing to change line, bullying to other drivers or cyclists.

Any crash should be an opportunity for testing involved drivers (and passengers in some cases) for drugs, alcohol, any health impairment, driving ability, and in particular mental fitness as well as condition of the car(s).

Punishment

Punishment should not be just a pure cruelty for the sake of satisfying someone but must incorporate the educational element and a deterrent. For example punishing motorist for just speeding with say $200 is antisocial and unjust. The rich person with bad attitude and careless driving habits will not treat it as a punishment but nuisance, and it may be devastating to a poor person who relatively safely pressed the pedal to be on time at work to feed the family and one had to take a child to school etc. Disregarding for a moment if speeding alone should be punishable, the time punishment may be much more just for all. When someone had committed a minor offence, one should be punished with public work of so many hours. Well, speed alone may not be dangerous but dangerous driving combined with speeding may be a serious offence. Lets say the short time of overtaking when speed limit was exceeded may be a sensible act, because imagine someone overtaking a big truck and has only 5km/h advantage. This would be very dangerous though legal. I’ve heard in media, specialists in traffic arguing not to overtake the truck if one drives close to speed limit. This is a horrible advise. It is quite unacceptable that a truck leads a long column of cars, it is dangerous and frustrating. Why not reduce a big trucks speed to 20 km/h below the limit, and smaller trucks to 10 km/h below limit. That way not only cars could easily overtake them, but also in case of crash the impact would be much less dramatic.

The government does very unwise practice. They jail poor people for a parking offence $13 for a three days, yet a car who injured a cyclist when car drove through a red light, got just a $200 fine. I propose that sensible people sort the serious offences from a minor offences and assign a range of punishments. To start with, driving a car should be taken as inherently dangerous activity. So called stealing and joy riding should be treated very seriously, so drink driving, driving under influence of mind altering substances or general hoon or dangerous driving.

Failing to give adequate space when overtaking cars or bicycles should be treated as serious offence or yelling to other motorists or pedestrians, abusing or even gesticulation or throwing cigarette buts that still glow through the window as well as bottles after alcohol and cans.

If the authorities recognise and declare officially that motor vehicle is a dangerous object and misuse should be severely penalised similarly as misuse of fire arm, than driving under influence of alcohol, drugs or in dangerous manner, should be treated as intending to kill. Throwing objects through the window especially bottles should also be very severely punished.

Other issues

Public transport is essential in proper management of traffic. This must be adequate, affordable, safe in terms of driving and criminal activity and reliable for everybody to go to work and schools. Without it people will fill that they must drive by their cars even when disqualified and they will commit an offence which could be avoided with proper public transport. Any punishment that prohibits driving would be not just. People may be banned from driving not only for their offensive behaviour but also for other reasons like poor vision, neurological or mental problems or any other reasons like slow reaction or drug addiction or alcoholism.

Any person having problems with alcohol or other mind altering drug addiction should have licence cancelled until medical certification clears the problem.

Indication of intention to turn is far more important than just a courtesy. It is an important safety device and one helping in smooth traffic flow. However Australian police and courts have no understanding of it’s importance so failure to indicate is not treated as an offence. Many people very aware of the indicator are confused in Australia where it is use is meaningless. No indicator does not always mean that a car on intersection goes straight, nor an indicator does mean that the car actually will turn the side the indicator shows. Recently introduced mandatory indication for at least 2 seconds before turning or joining the traffic from parking is not working because Australians have no used to comply. For most Aussie drivers such a rule is non existing, and this is confirmed by total lack of policing of that rule. Let me draw a parallel of this rule with the rule of speed limit. For decades the government consistently taught drivers that speed limit does not mean limit at all. Police actually fines drivers who drive below a speed limit calling it driving too slowly. This is illogical, unlawful, dangerous and antisocial. Police should be educated and understand that the meaning of the word limit does mean the absolute maximum. Our police bullies drivers to treat limit as it would be a mandatory nominal or cruising speed. Please bear in mind that it is no China that everybody must behave in prescribed way, we must not have a set speed at which we must travel. This is also impossible. One of the obstacle is chronic lack of street names, directions to a major places like suburb or airport etc., and no building numbers. For that reason driver must slow down, hold unnecessarily traffic and decipher what number that building in front of me is? Often driver stops at the middle of an intersection and reads the map. A view seen only in Australia. This is a real third world standard. Are we illiterates and/or stupid? I have applied to many officials (ministers etc) asking for a house numbers to be mandatory. There is no minister capable of understanding what I am talking about. Just go to Germany or other developed country and see the way they number their buildings.

Many politicians have promised and all failed to deliver a radical ban of driving while holding their ear and talking to the elbow (mobile phone). It is very dangerous particularly to cyclists as they are ignored by such drivers.

Driver’s licence

Our archaic licencing system should be changed to improve safety and traffic flow. Since introduction of current licencing system, cars have dramatically improved their capability but not the driver’s. In fact drivers are more than ever unsuitable to drive mainly due to their mental problems. Drivers IQ does not match the car’s kW and Nm. Other than health issues, there are changes to road rules and drivers do not keep pace with those changes. There is much denser traffic than a decade or two ago, but the licencing requirements are perhaps lower but not higher. The renewal of licence should be periodical lets say every 5- 10 years.

Training should be expensive because it must be comprehensive and be done by Tafe over a period of considerable time. The new course should take all major aspects of driving, many of which are not even mentioned in current arrangement. They include aproper overtaking technique, tailgating, road sharing, environmental impact, dynamics of driving, courtesy on the road, defensive driving, reporting dangerous activity on the road etc.

I propose the new system of licencing for a common driver’s licence and serious offence may include drop down in licence category.

All common type driver’s licence should be divided into 3 categories A, B, C. The category would be determined by the capability of the car to be driven. Category C would allow to drive any car not capable of reaching 150 (160) km/h or to have acceleration 0-100km/h in 15 seconds or more. Many older type of cars and many low end cars would be in this category. Eg. Beetle, Mini Morris etc. it suits students, pensioners and anybody else. And here the acceleration should be of the priority because it is where the most danger arises in the city when youth accelerate and chase one another. The training requirements would be a similar to current ones but include more training like proper overtaking, cyclist awareness, driving dynamics and courtesy. New training would have to be more supervised and somewhat dearer. To qualify for class C the candidate would have to be 18 years old. By the way in Europe drivers licence is much more expensive and harder to obtain due to lots of learning.

Category B would require much more training including advance driving courses, safety issues, courtesy, ecological impact and some social awareness. The cars allowed to be driven by this category licence holder would include all cars not capable of exceeding 180km/h and having acceleration not better than 12 seconds. So many if not most modern but not very powerful would be in this category. Most young people would like to obtain this category and the only way would be through much more training. To qualify, candidate would have to be not less than 25 years old.

Category A would allow to drive sporty and powerful cars exceeding earlier parameters. The only way to obtain licence would be through the most extensive driving courses. This would be the most desirable category for young people.

Any offence would bring substantially more severe penalty for the driver of higher category because more is expected from one and one is more qualified. Even downgrading to a lower category can be a one type of punishment. For example a Mercedes driver (A category) would be much more severely penalised for too close following, for failing to give way, for failing to give a 1 metre distance when passing a cyclist etc, than a pensioner in Mini.

Rationale behind this system.

Safety and quality driving is the aim. As the bus driver must have much more training to drive a bus because this vehicle is capable of making more damage and life loss than a smaller car, so should be the case with a passenger cars whose power and potential danger grows but required skills are same as for older less powerful cars. It is only logical that drivers licence is insufficient to be a pilot, and as cars are more and more powerful the drivers ability to handle them safely should at least match this trend. Overall, training is the best way to achieve safety and smooth, peaceful driving, so it is the essence of my proposal. In effect the elderly would be unaffected and young would voluntarily want to have more training in the process to obtain more prestigious licence.

The side effects would be that a typical Mercedes or Porsche driver would behave well hopefully this kind of behaviour would have an impact on newcomers.

When statistics show that most of crashes are done by people younger than 24 year old so it is logical that only C category could be allowed to those young people.

Speed kills (?)

Around a century ago there was a popular belief that reaching a speed of 100 km/h is impossible because the blood would boil. What an absurd, we may say today. In honesty, exactly this same conclusion I draw from present day preaching of our decision makers that speed kills. I do not wish to go into superficially intelligent arguments what they really mean.

Wether it is an argument for a revenue raising or a genuine attempt to improve safety, I treat it only as a safety issue.

Unskilled and with wrong attitude people behind the wheel they kill, not the speed. Unintelligent policies add to the problem because people tend to ignore unwise rules.

There are roads, cars and excellently skilled drivers capable of driving at about twice the speed limit and do it safe or at least much and much safer than those who hover around the speed limit and in honesty never supposed to be allowed to drive. Yet our current rules lacking any intelligence, indiscriminately limit (or allow) the speed for all in all circumstances even if it is clearly inappropriate. This eliminates the use of intelligence and responsibility from driver.

Problems with current rules of speed limit:

  • police actually demands or even forces under a punishment to drive at speed limit, by punishing for “too slow driving”. This is stupid, unlawful, illegal and dangerous, it is a criminal practice. It is double evil because this same police also punishes for driving over the limit.
  • when limit does not mean limit at all, than it is very confusing to drivers and teaching public to ignore the stupid rule makers
  • this indiscriminate rule makes a perfect licence to kill. This is nothing but an automatic excuse: “I’ve been driving within the limit so I am not responsible for killing”.
  • in many cases it is safe to drive through a school crossing or in other places much faster than the limit dictates but, rule says…
  • there are situations when it is not only appropriate but advisable by me and experts to use as much speed as you can in the name of safety but when you do it you may end up in a criminal. One such situation is an overtaking. Without going into details, it should be done as quickly as practicable.
  • the rule of current speed limit is rigid and so is punishment.

I propose to introduce a flexible rule of safe speed, the rule that has been in use in Europe (exclude UK) with great success. As Australian rule concentrates on the figure (km/h), the European rule concentrates on safety, hence the name. This is the most important single rule making a huge difference in safety and all drivers must know it by heart. “The safe speed is a speed with which driver is capable to stop to prevent a crash in any given situation and conditions.” In case of a crash, the driver is guilty of causing crash and breaking the safe speed rule because one have failed to stop to prevent the crash. There are a rare exceptions with unavoidable crash but it is beyond the scope of this paper.

Such a rule of safe speed would allow to simplify the limits for example to have one limit in metropolitan areas of 50 or 60 km/h whatever the research will find appropriate. Serious consequences for killing or injuring on the road must be introduced. Many experts on road safety have pointed to me that government encourages [maybe passively] to drive dangerously by automatically treating it as accident. At present the only consequences for killing or injuring are to fill another insurance form, paying an excess and eventual interview with police. Lost or hurt life is irrelevant. Those experts call for treating killing as any other killing in other situation like in a pub, at home, at work etc. I do not think that treating other road users particularly cyclists or pedestrians like chicken in some advertisements is responsible road safety management. In did many advertisements do with government’s blessing, advertisements in which speed and stupidity are encouraged.

We should move to the spirit (essence) of the issue, not the letter (punishment for not doing wrong on one hand and excuse for not punishment in case of serious crash). Drivers must be made responsible for all their actions. If the indiscriminant speed limit should apply it should limit the most severely (20 km/h below general limit) of heavy vehicles >3.5 tons and no limit to pedestrians and cyclists, according to the mass and possible damage in crash.

Tailgating (close following)

Hardly anyone knows/understands the 2 s following rule and even fewer obeys it mainly because it become near impossible to do so. Despite police and rule makers knowledge of this, they do nothing to stop this practice.

The 2 s rule translates to about over 33 metres of following behind the car in front of you in 60 km/h zone. This rule derived by the world wide experts, states in driving rules that gives relative assurance to stop to prevent crash. Well it is relatively safe rule, and statistics say that tailgating is one of the major cause of crashes, yet nobody including police takes it seriously.

in Israel there is serious consequence for following at distance smaller than 1s. I would be happy if we adopt a serious punishment for breaking 1s following distance (about 16 m). Today in Adelaide the following distance is usually less than 8 m and often much less.

There will be no improvement for as long as police will not get serious about it. In Israel there are video cameras used for this automatic prof of major offense, why not apply it here?

Tailgating is very dangerous to other drivers and particularly to other road users like pedestrians and cyclists because it disallows to have a proper field of view and to react to avoid collision.

Close following as I have observed is a symptom of illness. Many drivers will tailgate and/or bully the driver in front to get the way and if they get, they speed and tailgate the one they catch in front, others will tailgate no matter how fast or slow they go, others tailgate just not to allow anybody to go in front.

Why it is an illness? Inability to control own emotions or actions and to assess safety and rules, it is an illness whatever label we use.

I have observed that in recent years the professional drivers are much more aggressive and dangerous. In my personal observation, the worst groups are:council drivers (trucks), metro delivery trucks (small), priviledged cars (those with letter P in their window) bus drivers (used to be excellent), taxi drivers.

Overtaking stationary or slow road users.

There is a rule of leaving distance from a parked car of about 30 cm, but 0 (zero) cm from a cyclist. Whoever devised this and/or maintain those rules, should go on bicycle and expose himself/herself to a speeding trucks in metro areas. Maybe it is bad suggestion, because people who approve such rules may actually do it for the last time. Perhaps it is better to replace them with people who can think clearly. Some may wonder what sort of passing distance I am talking about. Cyclists call for a one metre space, believe me, it is not too much.

Regarding cyclists, rules state that a cyclist can occupy whole line. How can one rule say that cyclist may occupy the whole width of line but another rule advises cyclists to stay as near to the kerb as possible? On top of that there is no minimum passing distance. Lets see what happens in real life. If you have to cycle for example because you have no car, and some drivers miss you very close, what you do? You claim whole line for yourself according to rules and to what police tells you. It is partially silly because you actually are holding traffic on that line and many drivers get frustrated, but a miracle has happened. Nobody pass you so close anymore. They change the line, sometimes with blasting horn. Despite the extra adrenaline, you are safe. What if you do not claim whole line (cycling at the middle of the line) and cruise on your cycle on the left side of left line? Some priviledged drivers (with P plate) drive behind you and signal to you to give way, so you must change line from left to middle and back to let them because they never learned to overtake by changing line. There is a general rule not to occupy two lines but change line entirely when overtaking, but who knows that? Knowing that it is not courteous, nor good for traffic, but safe for you on bicycle, should we advocate cyclists to claim whole line because the government allow mentally retarded to drive dangerously, or it is better to change the rules and do not grant licence to those who are really unable to drive safely?
Is it OK, for cyclists to move to the front of the cue at traffic lights or just stay behind other cars, breath in the exhaust gases and obstruct the traffic which wants to move quickly when light turns green? It is sensible to allow cyclists to move upfront rather than to obstruct traffic.

Round about and changing lines.

In honesty road rules never specified the proper sharing of the road at round about and when changing line. It is left to the rule of jungle, the survival of the stronger/heavier and quicker. At round about often there is provision for pedestrians to cross, but cars these days drive to kill or pedestrians must fly like chickens on the major car company advertisement. This advertisement works even if people do not drive Toyota, people must fly like chooks.

When cyclists wants to change the line, drivers are willing and do hit cyclists but will not allow to change line smoothly.

Cyclists are not cars

Many drivers expect cyclists to keep same high speed as cars. In deed, drivers have no idea of sharing road with any body.

Drivers expect cyclists to ride as cars do. That is to drive in straight line, do not care about broken glass or pot holes and not be moved by strong winds. It is time that drivers learn to share the road.

Often the left part of the line is not driveable by bicycles nor even by cars due to faulty road design and lack of regular maintenance.

In places where there are bicycle lines clearly marked, cars use them like there were no lines at all. Perhaps drivers have no idea what those lines mean? It is time to educate drivers properly.

Often the nice bicycle lines are constructed for cars really. They have very deep holes often as the entry to underground services.

Offensive behaviour

Apart from dangerous driving, lack of any courtesy, many drivers or passengers shout or abuse cyclists or pedestrians. Police seems not to care sufficciently about it.

Often people drive with their barking dogs. Such a barking dog is potentially dangerous to any driver or even more to a cyclist. It is also very rude. Just imagine when government allow zero clearance and the dog can not only bark but actually bite the cyclist.

Noisy drivers are dangerous and antisocial. Often mentally compromised people use loud and otherwise offensive stereo. That destructs other drivers and interferes with peace of residents. In NSW and VIC it is punishable, why not in SA?

Modified exhaust pipes to make very loud infra sound (deep vibrations) are easily picked and should be punished. These days those cars are the loudest in the city, but a decade ago busses were. It is illegal and antisocial as well as harmful to physical and mental health. This adds to the general stress we have more than enough in daily life.

All those issues, wether courtesy, dangerous driving, not sharing road with others, lack of policing do contribute to a race of might. Now rich drive massive and dangerous 4 WD rather than hope on bicycle which is more than ever being pushed off the road. Our children become more obese than ever, and more depressed than ever but riding a bicycle to school and back is last thing they think. It is due to lack of sensible leadership and commitment to act sensibly to protect the vulnerable. Money, is what counts. In case of hitting a person, it becomes just an insurance matter, not a human tragedy anymore. All boils down to money.

I am perhaps first to link road rage with mental problems and I am sure I am right but it would be more than sensible to request Universities to conduct more scientific study. In today’s newspaper (6/11/03) The Advertiser on page 3 there is an article on road rage. It is one of many and I propose let psychiatrists, sociologists and other academics read it first, hope on bicycle and do 50 km a day on a busy and not so streets of metro Adelaide for a week or two. Let them note all even mildest abnormalities and then to examine with help of police identification system the drivers and their mental state. Let them note not only driving quality or ability but also appearance, type of the car if modified for power and for noise, if they play loud stereo, how they look, what sort of language they use and anything possible. Do you think that the driver who bashed another driver and left his car in the middle of intersection is capable of driving a dangerous machinery as car? Who is responsible to grant such a person a driver’s licence? It is time to realise that you do not have right to have a licence simply because you want, but because you are capable of driving and accessing the situation properly. It is high time to screen all new drivers, older drivers and all involved in any crash even when nobody had been injured.

Let me point some loose points I observed. A noisy car came from behind me and a few things I’ve noticed as he passed me. The rapid manoeuvring, noisy, powerful car, dedicated registration VIOLENT and guess the colour of the car? Yes, black. Are those points just not related details? I don’t think so. What can you predict about the driver of the car whose registration reads: ANGRY ? It is more than sensible to conduct quite a series of studies on mental status and connection with road rage. Those people advertise their mental problems the way they can and we, the normal members of society, cannot read nor help them. We write articles about our impatience, we chase them on streets with very likely crash, we fine them, we are surprise, we promise tough stand but we never assess their mental health and offer remedy. Those poor people do what they can to attract our attention and we pretend or in deed cannot see what is going on.

Even when you know that on your street there is someone that has problems to control own emotions and himself, and he speeds regularly 10-12 pm making noise and dangerous speeding, when you report to police there is not much they can do. There is a need for a specific legislation of environmental and antisocial behaviour on the road.

Road design and traffic lights

Traffic lights as we know them are outdated and can be likened to dinosaurs era. Before I explain and give suggestion, the problem with policing is that police and/or judges understand only the letter, not the spirit of the rules. At present the drivers are punished for disobeying the colour of the lamp, not for causing danger. It is a custom that drivers are just fined $150 for driving through a red light and injuring cyclist, pedestrian or another driver. So it is not punishment for a dangerous driving but for the colour of the light.

In quite many places the traffic light is very useless due to a small traffic, the cost of its installation and operation and they definitely cause much more problems than solve. This is the excellent way to teach public to ignore the lights and the “stupid” authorities.

In most cases (almost all), traffic lights are very unintelligent and cause drivers frustration. They are based on timed cycles and which are sometimes changed to shorter or longer periods governed by computers. So often the light stops the traffic from all direction only to pass a ghost (non existing cars), also stops the cars which dynamically were in excellent position to continue, in order to give way to the other cars and actually to stop them just before approaching the intersection. In result all cars had to stop for no reason and be frustrated. Drivers frustration and demoralisation is one side of the story but the environmental pollution (start/stop and idling) as well as overheating radiators and slowing traffic.

Traffic lights never truly were designed for cyclists and therefore do not allow enough time for them to complete before the cars across start to go and get frustrated at slow cyclists. The trigger of lights by bicycle is very rarely addressed and often it is a bad compromise (a manual switch hard to access from cycling path).

There are situations when the traffic light never were taken into consideration but afterthought. Such situation occur at T junction_when the stem is on your right and the light in front. You have to stop on red light to pass all the traffic even if you are on the left side, on the bicycle line and there is no bicycle traffic nor any traffic for you who head straight. The turning cars never meant to drive on the bicycle line so cyclists should have right to go even on red in such situation. There is also the point that cars do swerve into bicycle line regardless if traffic lights are there or not.

Another still point against traffic lights is that at weekends they have far too short cycles.

I have two suggestions, first is to use the policing the traffic lights as intended that is to punish severely not for colour but for danger created by disobeying the colour in a particular situation. Second suggestion is to use an intelligent change of light colour governed by the traffic flow rather than preset time. For that purpose there would have to be installed sensors well before the intersection and a computer would analyse the speed, distance and number of vehicles on all legs of intersection and govern to maximise flow, and to minimise stoppage. Such a sensor could be a simple rubber type of pressure sensor (also sensing cyclists) or far more sophisticated optical devices like cameras.

The road design in Australia is quite poor for a developed country and is badly maintained. The unforgivable are trenches across the road for a storm water. The storm water collectors at the gutter are a matching the third world. They are extremely dangerous to the traffic and particularly to the cyclists.

Many collectors comprise a series of deep grooves and have shape perfect to trap the cyclist. This is particularly dangerous when car drivers push cyclists near the gutter. To make it worse many such funnel shaped and grooved collectors have vertical wall or a cap over the collector or just a driveway. Many road junctions are very deep and bear numerous groves done by daily driving cars. They are clearly not suitable for traffic but for storm water. Here is a gross problem. Australia is the only known to me that a storm water is the prime consideration in road design and driving is secondary. In Europe where I’ve spend half of my life and there is lots of rains and often heavy rains, the roads are made for cars and water is far better managed than here. Well the definition of road in Europe (you have to know before attending driver’s exam) is the whole space between curbs, it is not so in Australia and particularly in Adelaide. Those traps near the gutter are particularly dangerous at night or on rainy days. This is more than inconvenience, this teaches drivers not to use the space near the curb so all traffic goes near the middle so effectively this limits the useful space despite the cost of whole width.

While designing more modern roads with bicycle lines, the designers still do it from car driver point of view. Such bicycle paths have lots of obstacles like the water or gas entry metal caps sticking above or more often below the surface leaving quite a nasty deep hole in the cycle path. In many other paths the surface is regularly cracked and gives nasty shocks when riding.

The road maintenance in general wether a dedicated cycle path or just a left side of the road is quite anti cyclists for a number of reasons. It is the most littered part of road with grave, glass, pieces of metal, car debris and trails of old concrete spilled some time ago. Absolutely the worst are the major roads maintained (theoretically) by the federal government, they often are not swept for a year or more. Many branches not only obstruct the view but actually ingrowth into the road hitting cyclists and motorcyclists.

As road maintenance is concerned I have noticed particularly in Adelaide over the past few years that the bitumen is not maintained flat but ridges and groves quite deep and particularly dangerous to cyclists are present on many major roads. This is particularly dangerous in heavy traffic when drivers do not give any room to cyclists. Such unmaintained structures actually force change direction of cyclist and even a fall. This is most often the case at the intersections but also on straight stretches like just in front of entry of Holden Hill police station.

Miscelenous

The offenders who try to escape when police request to stop and so called partakers in a chase, should be treated as intending to murder.

Every serious offence wether speeding, offending others, behaving dangerously, making excessive noise, burning tyres or driving without due care, driving in unusual way to be referred to the panel of specialists. Among specialists may be an oculist, physician, driving specialist psychologist, psychiatrist and police. Depending on the nature of the problem, minimum two specialists would have to certify that the offender is fit to drive. Lets say the offender is an elderly person who cannot remember most of the rules, and/or cannot see well and has very slow reflexes. Such a drivers should go through medical tests and than driving specialist and they may allow licence to be returned or not. In case of burning tyres and playing excessively loud the psychiatrist, psychologist, physician and driving specialists may have to be convinced that the offender is free of problems which prohibit holding a licence and that one is capable of making decisions on the road.

It is a big chance that driver who plays so loud that whole suburb is alarmed, has a serious mental problems, and one seeks attention or his behaviour is an indication of his mental condition. One is not capable of realising of the effect of his acts on others. Therefore one may not be capable of holding licence to drive a car which is potentially dangerous equipment. By the way I have notified authorities which investigate of the possible link between hoon or antisocial behaviour and mental problems.

In my observation most loud drivers are also a violent drivers, they stick out. Having considerable medical knowledge, I strongly suggest that a mental screening of all candidates and all those involved in crash to be conducted. There is no need to prove anything, just please consider the statistic that over 50% of general population has serious mental problems warranting medications, so this same proportion of drivers would be driving cars. Therefore any even slightly dangerous or abnormal behaviour (gesticulation, threatening, sudden manouvering, very loud etc) is reasonably good indication of some sort of mental or emotional problems. Some of the questions of mental symptoms include if you where so angry that you used horn of your car or had to yell at tother drivers. Drivers who have so called street machines, drive just to show off, have modified exhaust to ensure that everyone on the street and in whole area knows who drives, drives pedal to the metal often late at night, and also often with very powerful stereo full on. The mention driver is clearly not capable of making right judgment. What if someone happened to behave loudly and foolishly just once. Well if caught or reported, once one get assessed by specialists, cleared and licence restored upon paying fine, is highly unlikely to perform foolishness in car ever again. It is costly and very embarrassing for healthy people. Person with disorder may have a rare chance to be diagnosed and cured, otherwise may cause serious trouble eventually land in jail and start the problem again. This cycle should be stopped. In deed this should be analysed in conjunction with sociologists, psychiatrists and psychologists.

The Essence

  • rules must be made comprehensive, include a priority road sign and not be conflicting as well as provide all typical situations involving cyclists
  • car drivers must be responsible for killing or injuring more vulnerable road users like motorbikes, cyclists and pedestrians therefore they must give way except on highway. Drivers must be responsible for the dangerous or antisocial passenger’s behaviour.
  • hoon driving, noisy behaviour, abuse or any antisocial behaviour to be seriously treated and a referral to a specialist given along with suspended licence
  • to set up and encourage public to report to a 1800 number operational 24 hours of any problems on the road
  • drivers licence to be issued only by TAFE upon serious and comprehensive course both practical and theoretical. Not all people are suitable for holding licence
  • the driver’s licence should reflect the skills of the driver and those skills must match the capability of the vehicle therefore the driver’s licence to be provided in 3 categories A, B and C depending on the car allowed to be driven and the level of course completed as well as age of driver and driving history.
  • mental and other health and capability to be checked before licence issued and checked after a crash and every few years along with updating new rules. Health professionals must report to licencing office all factors even slightly impeding driver’s ability.
  • proactive policing in unmarked cars and lots of police on bicycles in plane clothes.
  • to build and maintain roads as they ought to be (roads should be cleaned daily)
  • to encourage all and especially younger people to cycle for health, environment and ease of traffic.
  • traffic lights to be more intelligent therefore driver’s and environmental friendly
  • to introduce an environmental fine and registration to be paid by the weight of vehicle and power it has and for spinning wheels as well as so called road rage.
  • heavy vehicles to have reduced their maximum speed by 20 km/h lower than general speed limit for heaviest and 10km/h for lighter trucks. This is to improve safety and to reduce road wear.
  • to introduce legislations giving cyclist exceptional priorities and protection. Even verbal abuse of cyclists or pedestrians should be regarded as serious offence.
  • to build and maintain cycling paths and to require businesses to provide a sheltered bicycle parking and to punish severely bicycle theft
  • education and policing should eradicate the culture driving and promote driving according to rules.
  • every building and every street at every junction must be numbered and name displayed as in other civilised countries to enable official, service, tourist and individuals to find easily the address they aim to arrive.

Adelaide 4.07.2008 Road safety campaigner

Advertisements

Posted October 30, 2009 by mmistrz

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: