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australian road users (and our fraudulent government)

By riotdave - 2 December 2008 47

g’day rioters!

perhaps some of you heard of this horrific story in The Age from a little while back that re-emerged today as it appeared in court this morning:

now, don’t get me wrong, i have nothing but sympathy for all parties involved in this tragedy; this is not my beef. instead this story and the media response has sparked my frustration again with our shameful government(s) and their pathetic road policies. below lies a somewhat drawn-out story but i felt compelled to register and post it. you know where the little red “X” is if you get bored 🙂

i wish you to consider how we equip our new drivers with car-handling skills. some of you may be aware of “road ready” ( a now nation-wide program that is supposed to help make L-platers safe drivers. now while this is certainly a step in the right direction, it is seen as more of a pain in the backside by l-plate-seekers and literally, the ONLY thing i could remember from when i took the course myself a few years back was the unbelievably cute blondie that shared my boredom/pain. so thats all well and good then – we ask a bunch of easily forgotten questions to people that don’t really care to know, and then we send them on their merry way into the public streets for 9 months! cool! next challenge is the L to P-plate process.

the procedures to getting your P’s are slightly different from state to state, but in canberra at least, there are two avenues. you can take the ‘big/final’ driving test or you can do whats known as ‘logbook’. the first is self explanatory really, whereby you focus as much chi as possible to impress some stiff with a clipboard (over the course of about 10-15 mins) enough for him/her to decide that you are ‘safe’. the other is where you pay through the nose for a “qualified driving instructor” to take you through a logbook of competencies over a series of 6+ hands-on, in-car lessons.

now before i continue, i’d like to explain a little about myself. i am in the “most hazardous/irresponsible” bracket as i am an under 25 y/o male with a history of numerous very fast/modified cars. i chose to take the logbook method to my P-plates as i managed to find what could’ve been THE ULTIMATE driving instructor – a touring car driver/racer who finances his racecar with driving tuition. what made this (anon) man different was that after one and a half logbook lessons and many chats about cars and racing and what have you, he could see that the lessons he was giving me were just not really effective. instead, he took whole mornings out of his schedule and booked the both of us in at the skidpan just out of qbn at fairburn park.

we had two such meetings out there – the first one was spent swapping between passenger/driver as he taught me how to emergency brake, in the wet and in the dry. by the end of the first session, i felt comfortable in slowing a sliding/out of control car in an effective manner. the second session was spent helping me understand the REAL concepts behind speed, car stability, smoothness, weight distribution, grip and most importantly, tricks to remaining calm. i now had an understanding of -why- people get into trouble in the first place. one more regular logbook lesson to confirm that i could reverse parallel, and he checked me off.

three weeks after getting my p-plates i had myself booked in, at my own expense, with a AAMI-approved defensive drivers course. i have completed another two advanced driver training days and attended a few race days since, to develop and hone my own skills and competencies further.

now, while i am admittedly a massive car enthusiast and i take pride in the quality, maturity and courtesy! of my driving at all times, most people would not have the opportunity nor the care/time/will to repeat my course of action. thats fine, each to their own but i am absolutely flabbergasted at how our outdated and inappropriate laws remain. i heard that something like 65% of people who sit the driving test fail because they cannot reverse parallel. WHAT!!!! why aren’t we failing people for not knowing the difference between a brake and accelerator pedal!!??!! (referencing the aforementioned article with all due respect). why isn’t every new driver expected to partake in a defensive driving course? i would’ve predicted the moderate cost to the government/taxpayer/fresh L/P-plater would be massively outweighed by the much-needed emergency abilities we would be equipping our new road users. we expect new drivers to dig into the peanuts for the needless ‘road ready’ course yet surely it isn’t so hard to see which one would offer a more substantial return on investment.

so it seems the washup from todays media coverage is that the government is looking to introduce stricter penalties and restrictions for learner and full-licence-bearing guardian/passenger. this is quite simply a hoax – another revenue-raising stunt, just like the additional p-plate laws/restrictions. in fact this shonky revenue-raising behavior can be found in every aspect of our current road laws, from parking inspectors to speed cams to dodgy cops, but they are other riots for other days

when will the government stop dicking around with band-aid solutions, and take even but a brief glance at the cause? how many people (kamikaze’s!) do we have to let loose with zero skills before someone stands up and says, “hang on, just cos you can reverse parallel, don’t mean you can drive!!!”


much love

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47 Responses to
australian road users (and our fraudulent government)
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GB 7:00 pm 06 Dec 08

Hi riotdave, good to have you back. And congrats on reading and digesting this extensive group essay in one go!

The alarming – but well-proven – thing is that regardless of the emotional atmosphere of advanced driver-training, the end result among young men is an increase in confidence that is not matched by any increase in skill; and attitudes are barely affected. This is not belief, its measured results.

Part of the reason we have so much evidence that it doesn’t work is that, because this information is so counter-intuitive, governments and well-meaning charities and schools just keep trying it. And it keeps not working.

So, they are not naysayers who say this. They are people who believed in the idea, have repeatedly tested the idea, and the evidence they got is overwhelming: it does increase confidence, it does not increase skill enough to compensate.

More accidents result.

G-Fresh 6:16 pm 06 Dec 08

cbf reading 11,000 words

riotdave 3:23 pm 06 Dec 08

wow i’m thrilled! just a couple of days after my OP and i return to find so many interesting and constructive comments! what a community i didn’t expect this response! 😀

i did not venture far into the immensely complex topic but a root of the problem has been identified – the mental stance of the person behind the wheel. i’m sure we are all intuitively aware of how our state of mind is one of, if not the most important aspects, yet this is one we are often not in control of when we are driving. we all have moments of absent mindedness, drowsiness, confusion, carelessness, lazyness etc – this is part and parcel of being alive and kicking and a function of being a roaduser. in re-reading my original post, i must retract the statement whereby i referred to the Deng case and the driver not knowing the difference between the accell/brake. obviously i referenced that figuratively – the poor driver in that accident clearly knew the difference – it was a brain panic/bandwidth issue indeed as clueless70 has pointed out.

it is clear that there is a strong focus towards education from our government – the television campaigns are excellent, for example, as i think the message gets lodged into peoples ‘banks and serves as a gentle reminder as to what can go wrong, but this is not sufficient. the focus is not nearly broad enough and while it is imperative that we educate the mind first and foremost, the fact still remains that we are ill-equipping new drivers with -actual- skills.

i have to disagree with the naysayers out there that say it is folly to send the reckless male youth to advanced driving schools as it just reinforces their ‘invincibility’. lets face it, if a young dumb bloke with a head full of testosterone wants to speed, he WILL speed, irrespective of whether he has attended an advanced driving class or not. between ‘idiot A’, who has completed some extra driving tuition, and ‘idiot B’ who is just ‘winging it’, it should be pretty clear which idiot is likely to survive given a nasty out-of-control situation, even if it was caused through stupidity/recklessness. it is this mentality that driving courses ‘teach young people to be hoons’ that frustrates me so much! the mood and layout of these days couldn’t be further from an ‘egging on’ – they are very serious about what they teach and make you REALLY aware of the fact that you are in a 1-2tonne metal box that can and will hurt/mame/kill if mistreated. that is the whole purpose of these courses- to raise awareness of the road and what cars can do and not to help jnr be the next schuey or senna. thats the fundamental difference between RACE training and defensive driving.

it would be interesting to survey new road users to see if they would be prepared to partake in some advanced driving tuition if it were compulsory. my bet is that the vast consensus would be a resounding ‘bring it on!’. hoon or not, young drivers DO actually want to be safe, but our system is not accomodating here.


GB 2:37 pm 03 Dec 08

harvyk1 said :

The problem is that “this problem” has so many variables, that to look at just one, like gov’t do with the P-Plate scapegoats is that they don’t look for the underlying causes.

Well, governments may do and say weird things, but people on the ground doing the research and making the recommendations are certainly not looking at just one variable. Over the last 15 years, there has been an enormous amount of research on causes of car accidents and deaths. Its not a matter of saying “its P-platers fault” — rather, figuring out what, if anything, we can do about it.

I don’t think its young men’s ‘fault’ that they are over-endowed with testosterone and a culture of recklessness; nevertheless this is a major cause of death for us. So, trying to find a way to reduce that means looking at those young men and seeing what we can change. The overwhelming evidence is that skills training has little or negative effects; better or newer vehicles has a marginal effect on accidents but a significant effect on deaths; and that most training schemes do not significantly affect attitudes.

For older drivers, I reckon Sgt Bungers is pretty much on the money: just read through the threads here about “other people’s driving” and its easy to see that it is our attitudes, individually and collectively, that need to change. Better cars, better roads, better licensing, and better testing will help; but are not the real problem.

And sadly, the death-causing attitudes are much more prevalent among young people.

GB 2:25 pm 03 Dec 08

harvyk1 said :

…Therefore if the part of the population most likely to drive an older car is the under 25’s, and as the population whom drives olders car more likely to have an accident, this reports proves exactly what I have said.

Well, sort of. The part of the population likely to drive seriously older cars (like in this report) is actually 55+. This report (from 2000) was talking about 22-year-old cars — a tiny proportion of vehicles on the road. There is not a linear relationship with more recent cars — it seems to be mostly about the big changes in vehicle design standards around then.

The statistics about younger people (16-25) having more accidents per km driven still holds true around the world when corrected for age of vehicle, vehicle condition, and many other factors. And its even more extreme when you look at the youngest group, 16-19.

Also, it holds true in countries where the national car fleet is varied in age (like Australia); as well those where it is very new (eg Japan).

Simplest evidence: younger drivers of brand new cars have a significantly higher rate of accidents per km driven than older drivers of brand new cars.

harvyk1 1:40 pm 03 Dec 08

That is true cranky. I don’t know to many people with brand new cars who don’t have them registered.

The problem is that “this problem” has so many variables, that to look at just one, like gov’t do with the P-Plate scapegoats is that they don’t look for the underlying causes. This means that we end up with band-aid solution on top of band-aid solution.

Am I sticking up for the P-Plate drivers – Well yes and no, the reasons why they are over-represented in accident statistics may not be 100% their fault. But the law makers find it easier to say it is their fault, than actually fix the problem.

Of course there will always be the one or two whom should have tattooed across the forehead “Banned from driving for life”. But you see that in just about any age group. It’s not something unique to any one demographic.

cranky 10:04 am 03 Dec 08

It has been noted recently in the Police roundups that the unlicensed, unregistered and uninsured of the world make up a disproportionately large number of accident participants.

It is not too far a stretch to apply poverty and antisocial behaviour as contributing factors in the the lack of compliance with road user requirements. Factors perhaps applying to a higher proportion of younger drivers.

These same factors mitigate against these individuals owning modern vehicles.

Ergo, older vehicles are very probably over represented in road accident statistics.

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