How long will it be before the roads are so lined with signs that it is impossible to see through them? It seems to be the government’s policy that they form an impenetrable border along every road. Speed changes, and advisories, parking signs, road condition warnings, road works, where will it end?
This article from the ABC News site is yet another example of idiocy gone mad. I think the following comment from lukewarm sums it up perfectly;
“60 – way too fast – it’s still pretty easy to kill someone at 60.
No, it should be walking pace, with a man carrying a red flag walking in front”
I could not put it better myself. It is comforting to know that most of the comments responded negatively to the suggestion that P-Plate driver be limited to 80 kph.
First I want to talk about the issues with this particular proposal but I also want to talk about road safety in general.
The problem with this particular proposal is that it will not in fact increase road safety, in fact it will reduce it. As one commenter pointed out any difference in speed between the average traffic flow and individual vehicles decreases road safety and increases the probability of collision. Also the driver will get frustrated watching all of the other cars overtake them and will result in an increase in recklessness when they get their full license. And finally it reduces the skill of the P-Plate driver since they get no experience at driving at faster speeds.
The problem however is far more widespread that just P-Plate drivers. It highlights the whole area of road safety.Â I doubt that our regulators are as ignorant to believe that this plethora of silly laws and speed limits are making our roads safer, but I could be wrong.
The issue is that the driver is so bombarded with signs and instructions that the driver’s attention is constantly being taken from the actual process of driving and being redirected to the speed, the road condition, animals, children present, road construction (absent) and general instructions, all of which actually increases the probability of an accident.
There was some research done on the effect of such safety features such as centre lines and border lines on roads and the non-intuitive outcome was that it made no difference to general road safety. The reason was that these features gave the perception that the road was safer which meant that people tended to drive faster and the overall result was no change in overall safety.
Similarly it was found that the more signs you have the less safe the road tends to be. The reason being that the signs lead to the driver being more distracted from their driving. Similarly the more speed limit changes there are the more the driver has to concentrate on adjusting their speed and the less the driver will concentrate on driving. This is not just my theory, there is your actual scientific research that demonstrates this.
Case in point. The Adelaide to Viictor Habour road is mostly 100 kph from old Noarlunga to outside Victor Harbour. Recently the section of road near the Willunga turnoff has been reduced to 80 kph. Southbound this occurs in a downhill section of road. The result being that the driver has to remove his attention from the road in order to achieve some theoretical savfe driving speed in order not to get done for speeding. The result? A reduction in safety exactly where the concentration on the road needs to be highest.
Another example is where road work signs are left out even when there is no roadwork being done. How is this safe for anyone. It is just plain laziness.
The problem is that law makers are responding to public pressure in order to appear to be increasing road safety and are in fact decreasing road safety. Science does not come into it.