When The Focus On Safety Needs New Glasses.

As a freelancer and independent automotive content producer and reviewer, I’m lucky and grateful to have the support of many car companies. Because I’m driving their product, I look out for what other drivers are doing. I do that to ensure that I’m prepared, hopefully and as much as possible, for the actions of some fuckwit that believes their understanding of what constitutes safe driving is “it’s my road, not yours”.

Tesla recently granted me access to their new Model 3 Standard Range. Not bad for an independent. The intent was to drive it to the Southern Highlands and back, which was duly done. Because I watch out for other drivers, I saw a few heads swivel to check out the blue metallic Model 3 as it largely silently made its way along.

What stood out, and absolutely tragically, was just how many cars are driven by drivers that simply do not care for road rules. How many drivers that simply have no desire to indicate. How many drivers that refuse to not tailgate. How many drivers that refuse to move from the wrong lane.

As I write this, a few hours after arriving home, and not long after watching a news story about a police blitz on drink-driving, I gave thought to an estimate about how many cars indicated properly. That’s indicating before changing lane, and finishing once the vehicle is fully into the other lane. I’d be safe in guesstimating one in thirty, and even that may be conservative. And that’s not an out of the ordinary situation.

The story had a figure of, from memory, something like seventy odd thousand people breath tested, for a final figure of under three hundred testing as positive for various ranges. I need to make clear I in no way support drink driving. However I’ll also put up the constant barrage of “don’t speed” messages we see on tv.

I don’t recall seeing ONE advert for indicating correctly. That includes how to indicate into or from a merge lane…

So why the focus on indicating? It’s simple. It’s potentially the least mind intrusive part of driving. Cars are designed and engineered to have an indicator stalk at a fingertip’s touch. I’d then say that a driver that doesn’t indicate is lazy or arrogant in thinking they don’t “have to” indicate. I’d then say that they’re more dangerous than speeders. Why? Because using an indicator is, genuinely, really, so fucking simple to do.

Can’t be stuffed indicating? Trickle down is can’t be stuffed driving safely. Too arrogant to indicate? Trickle down is too arrogant to drive safely. That also applies to the idiots that will tailgate, in the expectation that you’ll move over to another lane, even when it should be obvious that the traffic ahead makes that IMPOSSIBLE. Then there are those that will suddenly swap lanes whilst behind you and suddenly will be a mere two or three feet behind you. They’ve not indicated, they’ve not given safe driving space, nor have they given thought to the possibility that YOU may have to brake because of the actions of someone similar ahead of you, driving like the fuckwit behind you.

Today I witnessed a female driver changing lanes rapidly, not gently, with one flash of an indicator and that when she could be bothered. This same driver had tailgated me in a zone rated at 110km/h with my velocity unable to go above 100km/h due to traffic ahead and to my sides.

But we’re browbeaten into believing that speed, and speed largely, is why there are so many crashes. Thankfully there is the occasional reminder to say “Don’t drive tired”. But there is no messages to remind people to not drive like a fuckwit. So why not? Do we really need to refocus what the road safety message is about? By reading the comments on various social media pages, the answer is yes. Overwhelmingly yes. Let’s consider that underlying message behind the police blitz. If, for argument’s sake, 70,000 people were tested, and 200 were positive, with something like 30 classifed as high range, then it means that 69,800 were just fine.

We’re constantly told that speed is a factor in 40% of crashes. That means it’s NOT in 60%. Take the time to have a look at the figures in the Bureau of Statistics when it comes to crash speeds, locations, then consider the numbers of crashes that have fatalities. Sure, one fatal crash is one too many, but there’s a huge percentage that simply don’t gel with the speed kills message in the way we’re meant to perceive it.

Where are the warnings to indicate? Where are the warnings to slow down safely when the light goes amber then red? Where are the warnings to not tailgate? Where are the reminders to use headlights properly? Where are the community safety messages to say “When using a roundabout, this is how you use correctly”?

Sadly, because we’re constantly told that speed is pretty much the only thing we should worry about, we’re being trained, if you will, to believe that’s ALL we should worry about.

I invite any and all that think the failure to indicate and the failure to give safe driving room doesn’t exist to come with me for a drive. I invite senior members of the NSW Highway patrol, our politicians, to come with me and bring a media handler with a couple of cameras. I invite you to come with me to see that our road safety focus needs new glasses.

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