Turning on the news in the school holiday periods, particularly in December and March will quickly tell you what a dangerous place Australian roads can be.
While our road tolls may drive us to despair there have been significant steps forward over the years to try to minimise the number of accidents.
Majorly significant of course are the drug and alcohol testing of drivers, but that is just a small part of the achievements.
Millions of dollars have been spent trying to educate the public about driver fatigue. Many cars have inbuilt alarms that sound after two hours of continuous driving. Most of you have probably seen the “Driver Reviver” stops at the side of highways giving drivers a chance to pull over, have a break and a complimentary cuppa.
New laws have been brought in to attempt to curb the number of P Plate drivers wrapping their cars around telegraph poles killing and injuring themselves and their mates. There seems to be a certain demographic of teenage boys who think the road is one big Playstation game.
These days the focus seems to be on distractions for the driver.
Leading the charge here is of course the mobile phone.
Most cars these days have Bluetooth capabilities, as do most mobile phones, so the number of excuses for yakking on with a phone to your ear are becoming far less plausible. Even if you don’t have Bluetooth in your car, a headset for your phone will likely cost you around $5, and that’s if your phone didn’t come with one already.
Texting, tweeting, profile updating, emailing, all of these things are utterly daft to do whilst driving, so heavy penalties are in place for those foolish and inconsiderate enough to still do it.
There are however other things that are designed to distract the driver that have not been banned and made illegal. Maybe we should be looking at these also.
The obvious distraction would be the billboard. If a billboard does not divert the drivers attention away from the road and towards it, then it has failed to do its job. Massive billboard posters of some supermodel in lingerie, looking like she is about to burst out of her bra, and with a look on her face like she is about to have a When Harry Met Sally diner moment may indeed sell a lot of socks and dental floss, but do they distract drivers and cause accidents?
Don’t think it’s just the guys getting distracted either. We have all seen some spray-tanned hunk with ripples in all the right places adorning the back of a bus or a billboard, glistening with fake perspiration and what appears to be a creature from the Alien series of movies attempting to escape from his jocks. Sometimes they don’t even show the guys head, I mean who cares what his face looks like. Oh well, whatever helps sell perfume and diet soft drinks I guess…
However, that is not the issue I wanted to highlight today, the issue I wanted to highlight is those people at the side of main roads with signs, waving them about to distract drivers.
How the hell is this activity legal?
As a driver you concentrate on the road but your peripheral vision is always alert for movement, and when you notice movement you will divert your attention to that movement. This comes from experience behind the wheel and keeps you alert for cyclists, children not paying attention and stepping out in front of you, pets that dart out from nowhere at random times, other cars not stopping at corners, and all sorts of other hazards. Seeing movement at the side of the road instantly takes your attention from the job at hand, driving.
Maybe I’m a bit misguided, but I thought wobble-boards were only for Rolf Harris and used for tying kangaroos down.
These people at the side of the road wobble their advertising boards like there’s no tomorrow. They wobble them, shake them, spin them, I have seen people throwing them in the air and juggling with them, something I’m not so sure is 100% safe on Victoria Rd in peak hour. I have also noticed that some of these sign boards even have a handle on the back to help the user juggle it.
I wonder what happens when one of these signs is thrown up in the air as a bus or truck hammers past and a sudden gust of wind follows them.
Below is a video of a guy promoting his sign-waving company in the US. You will notice he talks about attacting the drivers attention, and you will also notice the sign-waver, who is clearly quite good, drop the sign, imagine dropping it on a windy day beside Paramatta Rd…
With a federal election approaching I would encourage all those standing to ensure that your campaign staff do not use this method of getting your name out there.
I say this because I was told the other day of a Liberal Candidate being promoted by what looked like teenagers who were waving corflutes around on the median strip of Sunnyholt Rd, one of Western Sydney’s busiest roads. I would hope that the candidate, Jaymze Diaz has more respect for his volunteers and the safety of motorists than this display would indicate.
However I am sure that all political party’s face the same problem, not just the Liberals.
I can assure you if it was me, I would hate to be the one blamed for distracting a motorist and causing a 5 car pile up, and I can equally assure you that if it were a political candidates corflute being waved, they would certainly be the one blamed. I would have thought causing death and injury wouldn’t usually score too many brownie points with the electorate, but what would I know?
I also wonder if Domino’s would find themselves legally liable if there was a bad accident caused by the behavior of an employee who was paid to distract drivers. That would make for an interesting case.
If people don’t think that this really is that dangerous, I would be interested to see what would happen if Domino’s pizza started with a campaign of distracting drivers outside primary schools during school zone hours. I wonder if that would cause a change of heart on the subject.
Anyway, I don’t expect anything will change too soon, but I’ve had my gripe for this morning.
Drive safe folks.