Who would have believed the greatest weapon in the TAC’s commendable but seemingly impossible quest to reduce the Victorian Road Toll to zero would be good manners?
It may be a long shot but it is worth a moment’s consideration. Fatigue, speed and recklessness or impairment may remain the big killers and the big targets for the Towards Zero campaign but underlying even these is one fundamental principle; driving is a privilege you must share with others and with that privilege comes the responsibility of considering others. While human error will always be a factor, even distraction can often be avoided by a change of attitude. The ancient principle underlying the concept of courtesy was it called for the individual to consider the greater good or at least the benefit of another before themselves.
“Share the road together,” is the old but valuable police refrain. Unfortunately a recent map of hotspots show at least with many minor accidents and in particular roundabouts our behaviour is far from this ideal. Rather than slowing down and giving way to the right, Ballarat drivers seem to have a preoccupation with racing through them as if they were a chicane demanding you beat the driver on the right. In consequence the more cautious drivers, perhaps in fear of this competitions, comes to a complete halt. So the selfish aggression of one group turns a traffic slowing device that works with flowing efficiency in other countries into a stop start dysfunction in Ballarat.
Driving Ambition instructor Peter Ellis Mr Ellis said Australian drivers tended to be angry, despite driving on quieter roads than European drivers. He also said drivers in England seemed to understand that courteous driving reduced the risk of gridlock. While the root cause of this bad Australian driving is worthy of its own thesis, there is one consequence on a local level. If roundabouts fail to serve their purpose as traffic-slowing devices and the accidents escalate, road designers are invariably compelled to look at far more costly and ugly traffic lights.
It is the irony ignored by the “nanny state” diatribe that it is precisely because of a failure to take responsibility in a voluntary scenario that then enforces mandatory regulation. Of course on a far more tragic level it is the failure of this same basic consideration that is too often at the root of the road toll.
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