School Zones, Speed Zones, Confusion Zones

Last Sunday I was driving down my local street, and found myself stuck behind the car that was doing 50km/h. I couldn’t help but wonder what was the guy behind the wheel thinking. On Sunday, the speed limit there is 60 km/h, other days it’s 40 km/h. Did he think he’s in a built-up area and therefore should stick to a generic 50 km/h speed limit? Did he know that the road there has a 60km/h speed limit and he was just a Sunday Driver? Did he know it was a 40 zone and he was being a rebel, driving recklessly at 50 km/h? Who knows!

But it did got me thinking. It’s hard being a motorist in Victoria. Not only do we have to deal with “regular” speed limits changing on a same stretch of road without rhyme or reason, but we also have to keep in mind school zones.

Speed signs must be consistent

Speed zones chaos

It wouldn’t be so hard if we had some sort of uniform approach towards it, but I guess the people in charge of our roads think that it will make our driving experience too dull. Guess what? I can do “dull”. Dull trip is the opposite of Adventure trip, and when you are on a way to work, adventure is the last thing on your mind.

At the moment, we are in a middle of School term 3, and according to the Government sources, the dates of this term are from Monday, 11th of July to Friday, 16th of September.

But….. there is always that nasty “but”.

So the dates for the Term 3 are from Monday 11 July to Friday 16 September. Easy enough to remember, right? Not quite. If you happened to be driving along the Wootten Road in Tarneit, you don’t have to keep to 40 after 9th of September, as the Islamic College there finishes their term a bit earlier. Or if you were driving along the Old Melbourne Road in Chirnside Park during the first week of term, you didn’t have to drop the speed either, as the Oxley Christian College there starts a bit late. Or if you are driving past Yeshivah College in Balaclava – they start their term later as well.

These are just a few of hundreds upon hundreds of private schools in Victoria, and each of them is making rules as they go, changing term dates, adding or subtracting few here and there…

Speed zones chaos

Speed zones chaos

While I understand the reasoning behind the decision to make speed limit in school zones a low 40 km/h, I think our government, as usual, failed to think through the execution of this initiative. Let’s think about it – if you have a child that goes to your local school, you might eventually remember the dates of school terms. But what if you have to drive next to a different school, in a different part of Melbourne? How can you be sure if it is a school day, or a student-free day in a school you didn’t even know exists?

If our government is fair dinkum about safety, the solution is simple. Instead of those old style road signs advising motorists of school zones, we need electronic ones, which present correct speed limit at any given time and have an added benefit of having higher visibility level.

I will be getting in touch with a couple of people who not only have interest in this matter, but also have ability to make it happen – I’m talking about Minister for Education, The Hon. James Merlino and Minister for Roads and Road Safety, The Hon. Luke Donnellan.

And while they are out there, righting the wrongs, they might consider making our roads less “speed camera friendly”, and more “driver friendly”. Do we really need a change of speed limit every 1.5 kilometre? Because that is exactly what we have at the moment. If you travel along the North Road from about Leopold Street, South Caulfield to Blackburn Road, Clayton – a grand total of 11 kilometres, you have to go through 7 (SEVEN) different speed zones, ranging from 40 km/h to 80 km/h.

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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?

 

Federal Budget, Retirement and Death

Over the past couple of weeks we all have been exposed to the proposed “tough love” budget that our Federal Government is attempting to pass through Parliament.

One of the things that will affect most of us – the retirement age is set to go up to 70 years. While it scares me to even think that I might have to be in a workforce for so long, there is something that scares me even more. It’s the thought that we will have significantly higher number of drivers in their mid to late sixties regularly navigating our roads.

Are you ready to retire?

Are you ready to retire?
Is the government ready for you to retire?

Why does it scare me? It’s simple, really. Older drivers are not as safe as the younger ones. They are accountable for one-third of all fatalities related to traffic accidents.

Now, before all the old-timers out there decide to collectively bash me up – statistics don’t lie. Of 247 fatalities in a 12 months to April 2014, 84 are from the age group of 60+.

The reality of it is, this number is set to go even higher. Today drivers over 60 years old are mostly drive out of peak hours, and mostly for recreational purposes. When they will have to drive to and from work, faced with bumper to bumper traffic, and an added pressure of getting there on time, how will they cope?

I wonder if the government is prepared to spend extra money paying unemployment to all the young people who will have to wait few extra years for the older generation to retire?

I wonder if the government is prepared to spend extra money paying for increased number if accidents on our roads?

But most of all, I wonder if it’s a ploy to force all those 70-year-olds to become just another road accident statistic, thus eliminating the need to pay them pension for another 10-20 years?

Getting old doesn’t look like a lot of fun right now…