OPINION: Money makes the wheels go round

By: Ken Wilkie


We’re back. It’s been but a glimpse, but how many people can list an around the world cruise in their portfolio.

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And of course I accept that a good many of you have no ambition to do such a thing. Now that is totally OK.

To a good extent, I have hit the ground running. First week back saw a Mackay trip and it has been turning over steadily ever since.

So what did I learn. Firstly there is a bloody lot of salt water between Brisbane and Brisbane when one continually goes west.

Do I like cruising – can’t say I do – but then I am pretty anti social. I was lucky enough to road test the new Toowoomba bypass on the day it opened – I think.

My impressions are not all that positive. Yes, considerable effort and probably even more money and what’s more borrowed money has been ploughed into the construction.

Now I don’t think it to be a particularly truck friendly road. It probably never was intended to be friendly to trucks – the driving ambition was to get the bloody trucks out of Toowoomba.

There is to be a toll placed on use of the bypass in three months from time of writing. Now wouldn’t it be just courteous to have the toll charge openly advertised at each end?

Also, I do not recall seeing any large red dramatic signage advising of long steep descent. I did overhear one operator expressing surprise at finding himself on THE long down hill slope.

It is not as steep as the old range for sure but with road trains having access and even forty two point five tonnes, caution and the correct gear are going to be mandatory.

Yes road trains are now OK as far as what used to be the Gatton pads. I think there is sufficient room for six trains to break up.

Now what happens if you’re number seven. You can sit and pick your nose for two hours I suppose, with the hazards going, as that is the time limit set down for doing the break up thing.

Other than that, one will have to take the "road train" sign off and fix a long vehicle sign to the front and continue.

The general public will not know the difference anyway. Probably should do the same at the back also to make it look kosher.

There is no option to do a U turn. And remember the old road blocks that happened all too frequently on the original Toowoomba road.

They’ll happen again on the new one. She’s two lanes from bottom to top – and from top to bottom.

Don’t concern your self with a break down lane because the borrowed cash did not run to such niceties.

I suppose one can still use the old road if push comes to shove, but boy, one can be a long way into the bypass before knowledge of a hold up becomes obvious.

Not too well endowed with sand traps for run away s either. Two from memory and that means one from the big drop and one for the second drop.

I think, on a fuel used perspective, the old road could well be in front – even before the toll is added.

There are a couple of good pulls in there in either direction.

I’ve read reports that the ratio of truck driver caused accidents has risen in Victoria to well above recent levels.

That is a worry – of course. But again; no independent review to determine the real cause. I’ve seen a comment that foreign drivers could be responsible.

Again we’re guessing. My view is one that holds industry management and enforcement responsible in big parts.

Yes, at long last the National Heavy Vehicle Law is in great part being reviewed. And yes, in response to driver concerns in regard to opportunities to submit proposals, that part of the process has been made more accessible.

Are we doing enough? Road safety is such a big project and so many people have a belief that they have the answer – usually persons with more ego than competency – more power than intelligence.

What a mob of less than honest people we have become I have been away for one hundred and six days. I’m back into the harness pretty quickly and how frustrating.

I do some light weight over size stuff. Queensland ( National Heavy Regulation. Or one nation one regulation!?), expects non escorted over size to keep it below 90 KPH.

Keep it below ninety? The freeway is blocked with traffic travelling below ninety and the posted limit is one hundred.

Industry management has to respond to chain of responsibility legislation. Enforcement has decreed that I cannot use the outer lanes to keep to MY schedule.

Any industry management activity that can have an impact on road safety outcomes is subject to legal prosecution.

OK. What makes the legislation brigade free of such chain of responsibility? Zero tolerance for one.

Who is so confident that all speed measuring equipment is THAT accurate.

Different tyre pressures just to start with. And one result of the mad Australian fixation with legal liability, in combination with the Australian Design Rules that do not emphasise zero tolerance on accuracy means we have automobiles possibly deliberately being built with optimistic speedo readings so that no one can accuse that manufacturer of creating a danger to motorists.

Consequence! Motorists driving well under their speed measuring device – which is most likely inaccurate by design – to ensure no person in uniform can write them a ticket that costs heaps of dollars, demerit points and by association brands that person irresponsible.

Have the design rules changed from the plus or minus ten percent figure for accuracy? And when all is said and done – as I’ve mentioned before, the speed limits are an arbitrary figure any way.

If the enforcement brigade exercised any intelligence, they would be more concerned about reducing friction in the traffic flow than being pedantic regarding the actual speed.

That requires the posting of a benchmark speed and an honesty policy by enforcement that states at what speed above that one can expect to be breached.

Part of the process will be over head speed advisory signs showing your actual speed.

Not hard as Victoria already has them on several major routes.

An honest assessment of cause of accidents will reveal the dereliction of responsibility by enforcement in the mess.

At what point will responsible people demand wholesale driving education as the FIRST requirement to achieve a better road safety outcome?

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