From a young age we are told that speeding is a big no-no, there are signs that hang high above the road telling us that speeding kills and the penalties for speeding can be generally quite ruthless. But is speeding the real problem or are we barking up the wrong tree?
With the introduction of a 4km/h tolerance for speeding brought in for all public holidays throughout New Zealand, it has now sparked me to write a small piece on if we are focussing our efforts on the wrong campaign.
Now, in general, speeding can be dangerous and it can very quickly go wrong considering the speed difference of everyone around you. But, when we start to focus on fines for a mere 4km/h over the limit, are we getting a little pedantic or do you think it would actually make a difference in the road toll?
New Zealand Police have been praised with the lowest death tolls’ for the current year in history, funnily enough it is also when they rolled out the new tolerance and have now been laying praise on the tolerance instead of other factors such as higher driver awareness (from having police out left, right and center.) A lower rate of road users travelling on the road and also weather conditions for the recent public holidays which has been shocking for the whole summer, so drivers would be driving to the conditions instead of being in La-La land for most of the journey.
One point I must make is that all drivers should be concentrating on the road and the changing conditions first and foremost, cars around them and other possibility’s such as small children, pets or objects.
But every public holiday it seems that all we are doing is spending more time looking at our speedometers than concentrating on anything else around us, simply because those who the government send out to gather revenue will gladly pull us over and fine us with a large smile on their faces and a pat on the back congratulating themselves for one less person who was going to die a horrible fiery death from being a few Km/s over the limit. Yes, the impending death that we are all going to face because we were focussing on our riding/driving more has now passed and we are $80 out of pocket.
In a country like Germany where you have the Autobahn and an unlimited speed limit there are a surprising lack of crashes. But hang on a second, increased speed means we are going to die? Why isn’t everyone there dead or severely injured?
It is because the one thing that speeding does do is bring upon a large increase in self awareness and an awareness of what is going on around you. At those speeds, you cannot just drive on auto-pilot like the majority of drivers do in our country. When you are tootling along at 50 – 100km/h many drivers simply decide to turn off and go with the flow, it isn’t a speed that really makes you sit up and take notice of your surroundings.
But when you are travelling at 120,130,140 or 240km/h your life depends on you making the right decisions at every moment. Hence why people travelling along at 100km/h down a one way motorway can then go on to have a 6 car pile up. (Honestly, how on Earth does that happen?) Apart from not following road rules where it states that you must keep enough space between you so as to safely stop with out hitting anybody, they are just not paying any attention to what is around them.
Now in response to the high death toll, the powers that be decide to keep on lowering the speed limit on each road as they see fit, and I can imagine it will continually decrease until we are moving at walking pace and still getting fined.
So is speeding really the problem? I believe that it is but not at the approach that we tend to look at it. When you have drivers going 160km/h and the rest are going 100km/h there is a large room for error there and that is where the crashes are happening, but when you start to pull drivers over for 4km/h over the limit and then pat yourself on the back saying you did a good job, it just comes off as pathetic and a huge waste of taxpayer money on funding the time and media for such a pathetic and worthless cause.
We do need to focus on speeding, put at the people who are doing it dangerously, such as through public areas populated by children and other road users. Through back roads where there is not another soul around for miles (Apart from police) it shouldn’t be as policed and maybe a larger tolerance applied?