Law of the Jungle, Survival of the Fittest, Also Known as Suburban Driving

I have to start by saying that I like to think of myself as a reasonably safe, assertive driver. After many years on a road, I’ve seen just about everything, been in a couple of bingles, avoided few more. But today’s been interesting…. I had 2 near-misses within as many minutes.

First one was a Four-Wheel-Drive, whose driver decided that it’s a good idea for his vehicle to occupy the same point in space as my car.

4WD attempts to push me off the road

4WD driver decides to change lanes without paying attention to cars around

As you can see from my highly technical picture here, my car is on the right, with nowhere to go and the other car is to my left, attempting to get into my lane. The guy didn’t even bother to see if anyone else is around, and was really surprised to find my car only a couple of inches from his…. after I’ve used the car horn to warn him.

 

Second incident happened only about a kilometer down the road, when I was trying to negotiate a T-intersection; normally not particularly difficult task.

Bus unable to perform a right turn

A bus driver was having a bad day

Once again, I’m proud to display my significant artistic skills here. The green rectangle is my car, ready to turn right. The blue one is some other car, about to turn left, and the big brown blob is a bus, whose driver is on a mission to flatten my car.

I don’t know-maybe he was having a bad day, or forgot that he’s driving a bus and not a bicycle, but there was absolutely no way that he could turn without running me over. Yet, I had to practically beg him to stop and wait for me to reverse my car about 30 meters back, to make it safe for both of us.

What really got me, though, was that both drivers – the 4WD and the bus were Asian. Here’s the part I don’t get: Asians are arguable the hardest working people on a planet, they are also some of the most advanced academically-just go look at the Law and Medicine Faculties of any university in Australia-majority of students there are Asians.

So here’s a question to all my Asian friends out there…. please someone, explain to me: what the fuck happens to you when you get behind the wheel?

 

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Speed Cameras Save Lives, or Do They?

While checking on some facts for my previous blog, I came across a lot of data related to speed limits and speed laws on our roads, about how speed cameras save lives. What I found strange though, is that there was very little data coming up related to how much safety improvements to the new cars affected road statistics.

If we are to believe our government, “Speed cameras make our roads safer. They’ve reduced crashes at intersections by 47 per cent and have helped cut our road toll by a third”. At first glance, this statement is pretty self-explanatory and non-controversial, right? Wrong!

Speed Cameras - Revenue Raisers

Speed Cameras – Revenue Raisers

Read it again: “and have helped cut our road toll by a third”. Notice – speed cameras didn’t cut road toll by a third, they have helped to cut it. What it really means is that the actual number attributed to speed cameras could be as low as 1%. Just think about it….if speed cameras really saved lives, and our government had the numbers to prove it, they would’ve come up with a statement that reads something like this: “Speed cameras make our roads safer. They’ve reduced crashes at intersections by 47 per cent and 30% of all lives saved is due to speed cameras”. See the difference?

Now that you spotted the difference, let’s see what the original statement actually says. It says that the road toll has been reduced by a third. It has been reduced by COMBINED efforts of car manufacturers making our cars safer, by improvements in road constructions making roads themselves safer, by improved algorithms of traffic management and by constant education campaign.

Improved Car Safety Saves Lives

Improved Car Safety Saves Lives

We all know that European cars have a reputation for being safe. It comes as no surprise than, that the vehicle safety is identified as a key strategy by the European Union towards addressing the EU-wide goal to reduce deaths by 50%. Again, take notice – not by putting more speed cameras on a road, but by improving car safety.

I would like to finish by quoting the boss of Mazda Australia, who has accused road safety authorities of creating a nation of “distracted drivers” by forcing them to watch their car’s speedometer – rather than the traffic ahead – because they’re scared to go 1km/h over the speed limit.”

Global Warming or Global Con?

A couple of days ago I read this story on ABC about new study showing that one of the major influences in climate change debate  –Earth’s oceans, weren’t included as component of the overall theory.

That got me thinking. Someone out there is paying big bucks for all these studies. Studies proving beyond any doubt that our planet’s climate is getting hotter. Studies proving just as convincingly that the Earth is perfectly fine and we are doing great job at looking after our global home.

Global Warming

Image courtesy of nuttakit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So apart from all the tree-hugging greenies, who get all warm and fuzzy at the very thought of saving the planet, or the whales, or the orangutans, or the albatross, or the unicorns; apart from them, who benefits from these studies? I mean, if I have a business selling air-conditioners, I would feel inclined to sponsor a study into global warming. Yet, if I were running a business selling fur coats, I would back up a study into the Earth getting cooler.

But the question of financial backing is only part of the mystery here (although I really do want to know “who’s who in the zoo”).

The other burning question is why people who like to present themselves as advocates of the global warming theory are doing their best to produce as much CO2 as possible?

Al Gore

Image courtesy of James Barker/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The few most noticeable are:

  • John Travolta flying his own Boeing 707 – normal occupancy is 150 passengers.
  • Barbra Streisand is too important to fly commercial, so for a short flight Manchester to London, she opts for a private jet.
  • Sting’s band, The Police, labelled by environmental experts as the dirtiest in the world because of the amount of pollution.
  • Attendees of the Copenhagen Climate Summit in 2009 utilized 1200 limos and 140 private planes.
  • One of the most prominent “activists”, Al Gore is a firm believer in travelling by private jets.

Now, I’m not a whinger, but…. if you feel so strongly about preserving the future of our planet and want to reduce the CO2 footprint, here’s a word of advice: placing a sticker “Save the forests” on a back of your petrol-gushing 4WD is NOT helping your cause.

If you are serious about saving the world, get rid of your 4WD, get rid of your private jet and a stretch limo and try living what your preach.

Do you know how to park your car?

Strange question, isn’t it? You’ve been driving for 5, 10, 20 (insert your number here) years, sure you know how to park! Or do you? The other day I went to get a few things for dinner and was amazed by the number of people who have no idea how to park.

What I found interesting, is that people know that what they are doing is wrong, I’ve observed a few of them getting out of their cars, “admiring” their parking, guiltily looking around, as if checking “have I been caught out?” and walking away with a smug expression on their faces.

So why do people do it? Why do they ignore the rules, ignore the fact that they inconvenience other road users? Why do otherwise intelligent people commonly failing at this simple task?

Parallel Parking?

Example of less than perfect parking.

Part of the blame is resting with the local council. Their lack of policies creates and encourages the wrong behaviour in people. Our local city council has given away way too many permits for new apartment blocks, and as the result of it, population (and the number of cars) exploded, without any additional parking spaces being created. People get really excited when they do find a spot, and forget about small, not important stuff, like parking between the lines, following the basic rules….

I guess what I’m saying is this: I am not a whinger, but….unless you want your parking spot to warrant a special designation like the one below, PARK BETWEEN THE BLOODY LINES!

Special parking

Image courtesy of evilletimes.blogspot.com