The NSW Towards Zero road toll plan is another example of the unachievable providing an excuse for a government marketing campaign.
While the title of the campaign is Towards Zero, the website says “Our goal is zero”.
I honestly believe it’s impossible to achieve zero fatalities on our roads… and will be while humans retain control of vehicles (and there are kangaroos, wombats and deer wandering out into our paths).
Think about what we’d actually have to do – ban all vulnerable road users, for a start. Motorcycles and bicycles, then severely restrict when and how a person would be allowed to step out onto a road and be a pedestrian who could possibly be hit by a car, truck or bus. If there are no road users who are easily injured it’s a simple way to get the road toll down.
I won’t get on my high-horse here about enforcement of speed limits, because they would have to drop, considerably. Not so much because of the reduced accidents, but because if you’re doing 30km/h in a modern car with a seat belt on and an airbag, you can survive almost anything… except maybe going off a cliff or being run over by a large truck, so much higher, stronger walls would need to be built along any road near a cliff.
Large trucks… would probably need to ban those, too, for on the very rare occasion they go out of control the damage is horrendous.
And why do we want to do this, anyway?
Because too many people forget that transportation is dangerous. It always has been and until the robots take over it’ll remain that way.
Unfortunately it doesn’t feel dangerous. Most private cars these days are hermatically sealed boxes which can control the quality of the air, the temperature inside the cab, reduce road and wind noise to pleasant levels and are equipped with all sorts of tech to keep the occupants safe.
But as the tag on your helmet read, ‘cannot protect from all impacts’. People still die, occasionally, even in the ‘safest’ cars.
The methods being used in this campaign are downright silly… asking people “What is an acceptable number of road deaths?’ It’s a bit like asking if you still bash your wife…
A couple of years back there was some dash-cam footage doing the rounds which showed a motorcyclist riding up the left lane of a multilane road and cruising through a red light… only to get T-boned by a 4WD and thrown into a pole. It was downright ugly footage, quite nauseating. And entirely the rider’s fault.
The bike was unregistered, the rider unlicensed, but had he died (he didn’t) it would have been another tick on the road toll.
Ya can’t account for stupid.
A rider who did die in recent times was killed when he lost control in terrible weather conditions… the storm had blown up quickly and the media report said he had been literally blown off the road. While we might argue he should have stopped, when was the last time you pulled over and waited for the bad weather to pass? I know I’ve pressed on when, in hindsight, I shouldn’t have. Who wants to stand out in the cold and wet when warm and comfortable isn’t too much further?
I believe the push to have zero road deaths comes from people with no passion for their transport and the mass media looking for tragedy. The media interview families who have lost people to road trauma and the quotes are very sad. The politicians commit to ‘doing something’. The bureaucrats appoint Road Safety Experts to solve the problem.
This hasn’t always been a bad thing… helmets, seat belts, airbags, leathers, better road markings and signage… there are lots of things the experts recommended and governments built to reduce road trauma, and it’s worked, to a large extent – the road toll is way, way lower than a few decades ago, despite there being massively more vehicles doing ever-more miles on the roads.
However, deciding there should be no deaths sounds good but is totally impractical, and is therefore unachievable.
And an unachievable goal, one funded by government, is one which can be renewed infinitely…
– Nigel Paterson