Stay focused, take time to learn ‘road craft'

ALL ROAD users should take greater interest in learning “road craft” – understanding how to drive to conditions and knowing when to take a break.

Experienced motorcyclist Dale Maggs says poor regional road conditions are the biggest challenge facing riders and it was vital riders understood how best to handle conditions.

He says bumps and dips take a toll on riders’ bodies and the constant movement can bring on fatigue quicker than vehicle drivers. That was when riders started to make decisions they normally would not.

It is a particularly important message for all road users in the Easter and Anzac Day period across our region where the main causes for trauma at this time are driver distraction and fatigue.

Police recorded 123 traffic offences in the Ballarat region between Thursday and Sunday as part of Operation Nexus, which extends from Easter to the end of the Anzac Day long weekend. While police have been generally pleased with motorist behaviour, there is still obvious room for improvement.

Of the offences issued, 33 drivers were caught speeding, seven were nabbed for disobeying traffic control and four picked up for mobile phone offences.

Ballarat Highway Patrol Senior Sergeant Pat Cleary has urged drivers to remain focused and patient, particularly with roads still packed with holiday makers, many who may be unfamiliar with our roads.

Maggs called on riders to better predict the actions of other road users to help stay safer and this is a message that should translate to all drivers. Know how to drive with all vehicles and how to adjust when conditions change or roads becoming increasingly degraded.

We each play a role in staying safe on our roads. And we can all help be more vocal when conditions are slipping. Maggs suggests regular forums for all road users to speak with governments about commuting and travel on country roads from the frontlines. Ballarat motorcyclist and safety advocate George Fong last month welcomed upgrades to high-risk roads in the region but said, too, it was also about educating council in how to improve road networks.

We knew our roads best. While plenty of traffic remains on our roads, this also means we have a responsibility to set the tone in how we drive or ride on them. And we need to show some patient courtesy to those who may be less familiar.