The Great Satan

Posted: July 14, 2011 in Cars

I should be dead. (pause for effect 1…2…3)

Okay, so a short time ago I had reason to travel, in my car, at a speed that was above the acceptable level. I was late for a plane. Well, not really, I was late to pick up beloved at an agreed upon time so that we could go to the airport and get on the plane. Although I had plenty of time to make the plane I really was running out of it to pick up beloved.

Without saying the exact speed I was travelling it was a damn sight faster than the posted 100 km/h limit that is imposed upon us by idiots. As I was travelling I noticed something strange happening to my vehicle. The vehicle felt lower and more planted on the road, probably due to there being more air flowing over the car and those little aerodynamic pieces, eg. Diffuser, front spoiler; coming into effect more strongly. The steering also felt lighter and more responsive, a direct effect of the aforementioned aerodynamic pieces.

Something was happening to me as well. My brain had detected the feeling of elation that I was going through and dumped some adrenaline into my system. The net effect being that my nostrils flattened and opened to let in my air, my eyes widened to let in more light and my reflexes sharpened due to the adrenaline itself. A thought occurred to me at this time. If my car performs better at this speed and I drive better because I’m more focused and alert than why are our speed limits so damn low?

Now, I’m not going to advocate that our speed limits should be raised across the board. As Phoebe the Whippet’s recent misadventure shows, there is good reason why speed in suburban streets is limited.

Our country, however, is massive. On a recent road trip to the Gold Coast I found out how massive it really is. Although I enjoyed the drive immensely, one day I shall do an article about it, there was a nagging thought in the back of my mind that 100 and 110 km/h is just stupidly low for travelling this fine land.

To clarify my initial point. The TAC advertising department, to be forever referred to by me as The Great Satan, are constantly telling us via every type of media known to man that speed kills. Or does it? I decided that I would go to the TAC website and check the statistics. How many collisions are actually caused by speed? I clicked on the speed statistic and found that they don’t actually publish the cause of collisions but they do have the following quote from Prof. A J McLean, “Travelling at 10 km/h over the speed limit in a 100 km/h area doubles your risk of having a collision.”

Now I’m scared. Doubles my risk, DOUBLES MY RISK!! To qualify this statement the question has to be asked. What was my original chance of being involved in a collision in the first place? 1 in 100, 1 in 1000 or 1 in 1000000000? Digging deeper into the website I couldn’t find it. The Great Satan tells us that speed is a contributing factor in all collisions. Of course it is morons, otherwise the cars wouldn’t be moving and the collision would never have taken place.

The worst advertisement The Great Satan has ever come up with is the one where the lady is crossing the road and gets hit by the car. Then she turns to the camera and says, “If the car was travelling 5 km/h slower I’d only have a bruised hip.” Yes, that may be true but, if the car were going 5 km/h faster it would have missed you completely. The problem with this commercial is that the speed of the car is irrelevant. What is relevant is that some stupid pedestrian decided to step onto the road without looking and gets cleaned up. Why doesn’t she turn to the camera and say something like this, “I apologise for walking in front of your car and giving you nightmares for the rest of your life.” None of these commercials ever consider the impact of stupid people on the motorist.

So why is speed targeted by everyone? Because it can be taxed. Speed cameras are the collection agency. To make it clear I’m not against speed cameras; I am however against the way they are used. Speed cameras should be deployed at identified black spots, painted fluorescent orange and have big shiny signs that tell the motorist they’re there. Why? Then people will slow down at the intersection and the problem ceases to exist. No more collisions, no more problems. They should not be placed on straight pieces of road where the speed limit drops for two hundred meters and then goes back up. In other words it should all be about safety and not revenue.

The Great Satan and the idiots at Victoria Government love to get out and about spouting how great it is that there advertising and tax policy has led to an overall drop in the road toll over the last ten years. I disagree completely. There was news today that the new Holden Ute has just received five stars in the latest ANCAP safety rating. Ten years ago the Holden Ute would have exploded if you mentioned the word ANCAP within its hearing. A Mercedes-Benz C-Class was a two star car ten years ago. Now they are considering bringing in a six star system just to cover Mercedes and other European brands. Could it be that people are now surviving collisions that would have killed them ten years ago?

Ten years ago the humble airbag was barely even considered except in high end luxury models. Renault now has an airbag which protects your knees. Vehicle safety has increased at a phenomenal rate and I suggest that this has had a larger bearing on the road toll than any number of speed cameras and Great Satan’s commercials. Speed is not the biggest cause of collisions. That title rests with fatigued drivers, bad roads, unsafe vehicles and Toyota drivers. The rest of us are just running late for a plane.

This article first appeared in the November 2009 issue of The King’s Tribune.

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