Road safety means obeying rules and remaining vigilant

Late in 2020 I wrote a piece about why it's important to obey the road rules.

The short version is, you need to share this part of time and space with others of differing ages, differing abilities and different stages of development with regards to spatial awareness.

It's especially important to obey the rules you don't understand the reason for, precisely because you don't see that reason. Someone else has thought of a dangerous scenario that you can't think of yourself right now, and the fact this scenario isn't occurring to you is why that rule is necessary.

Of course, there remains an ignorant minority who are especially difficult to get through to. The pervasive myth about revenue raising doesn't seem to go away, with anyone from so-called journalists through to politicians throwing the phrase out there to gain popularity with target audiences.

So, let's bust that one right now.

First off, you can only be fined if you're not obeying the rules. You can argue that some speed limits are a bit too low, but disregarding them is not the way to protest. If it's a school zone or roadworks, you simply have no case, just do what the sign says. In rare examples on the open road, you may be able to come up with data to support a sign change, but that is pretty unlikely.

As for other rules, like illegal U-turns, actually stopping at stop signs and red lights, looking where you're going not at a device, keeping left unless overtaking and leaving enough room to the vehicle in front, it's all pretty clear cut. Do what you're meant to and there's no legitimate way to fine you.

As for the revenue itself, you are grossly undercharged for using public roads, no matter how you use them. So let's put that fine's piddling little sum in context.

The latest, and smallest credible estimate it must be emphasised, from Public Transport Users Association (Victoria, Australia) is that Australia's road system costs over $69 billion each year. Throughout all the means which motorists pay standard fees and taxes, which includes such things as GST on the vehicles they buy and their insurance policies, plus fuel levies, plus tolls, plus that token little fee called registration, the grand total they contribute is $45 billion.

That leaves a $24 billion shortfall that needs to come from other revenue sources, like your rates for local roads, and other taxes for infrastructure projects.

If you get a fine, consider yourself extremely lucky that's all that went wrong. Photo: Shutterstock

If you get a fine, consider yourself extremely lucky that's all that went wrong. Photo: Shutterstock

Little Blue Dinosaur Foundation

There are other very compelling reasons to behave yourself like the majority do and to stay super-vigilant as well, whether you're a driver or supervising a child near the road.

Michelle McLaughlin is the founder and CEO of Little Blue Dinosaur Foundation.

On January 6, 2014, Michelle's four-year old son, Tom, bubbling with excitement to ride his new surfboard as they visited the beach, stepped unexpectedly from the grassy verge and into the path of an oncoming 4WD, in sight of his seven-year old sister and his grandfather.

From this traumatic tragedy, Michelle and her husband David became determined to build a legacy for Tom. The foundation champions pedestrian road safety for children, educating the wider community around how to keep children safe around roads.

Michelle is now also looking to expand the remit of the Little Blue Dinosaur Foundation to support grieving families during the difficulties they face in the first 12 months.

"The first year after Tom's death was the most difficult," Michelle said in a statement.

"I just couldn't function. You are relying on extended family and friends to help with the day-to-day of keeping the household going, but not everybody has such support."

The foundation is calling on corporate sponsors to raise just $150,000 for care packages that will include such items as vouchers for child care along with cleaning, domestic and cooking services to help parents through those first 12 months after their child's death from road trauma.

"My hope with launching the Road Trauma Grief Service Packages is to make walking that first year even a tiny bit easier for affected families, better supporting this extremely vulnerable group," Michelle said.

This story Road safety means obeying rules and remaining vigilant first appeared on The Canberra Times.