23 June 2005

Bentley driver sentenced to the big house

| Ralph
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Today’s Australian is reporting that Alan Denis Shortall, who was caught doing 231 km/h along the Hume Highway at Collector earlier this year, has been sentenced to six months in prison.

He will stay on bail while he appeals the sentence. Millionaires generally have access to good legal resources, so he’ll probably manage to wriggle out of this one. However I believe that grubs like him who behave in such a dangerous manner (and who have a total disregard for the safety of others) ought to have a stint away from the rest of society.

Previous coverage of this story is available here.

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Philby, what’s that you said about your sister?

Ok so I’m a newcomer, recently popped my chery on thi siste but I CANNOT BELIEVE YOU people! The crucial factoer that you’ve ALL overlooked is his reason for travelling at such high speed. Apparently the “extenuating circumstanecs” that his brief had referred to on TV were that his client was runnig late for a dinner with the Right Horrible John Winston. I mean come on, doesn’t that excuse a little buit of ‘arguably’ unsafe driving? DOES IT BOLLOCKS!

I posted this at the Canberra Times site as a response to the news story:

Want to travel fast? Catch a train.
Sunday, 26 June 2005

Driving is not a right, it’s a privilege. And it certainly doesn’t override MY right to transport my family safely around the country. I’m glad he got put in jail – I shouldn’t have to worry that some self-centred rich boy is going to appear in my rear-view mirror all of a sudden and then make mince meat of me and my family half a second later. Good on the judge for sticking up for the quiet majority.

In an accident, the faster the cars are going, the worse it will be for everyone involved and the less likely it is that the drivers will be able to avoid it. People’s whole worlds get destroyed in this manner every few months. It’s not tall poppy sydrome, Jim Wilfon, it’s dangerous idiot syndrome.

Correction: The Goulburn Post was also in the court to record Shortall’s sentencing. My apologies for not acknowledging them!

Where are you going to stop with your precautionary principle seepi?

we’re not far from genetic tests for all manner of potential things. it’s something to be thinking about.

Speeding doesn’t carry a high penalty it just gets given one by the Courts. Assaults, burglaries and the like carry high penalties although people get off on the leniency of the Courts because of their financial situation or drug habits.
A person who actually has a decent job can’t ask the Court for leniency due to monetary restrictions and therefore gets hit with a big fine.

Driving down this same road tonight and someone’s goats had got out and were all along the verge. I wouldn’t like to hit one of them at 230km….
Speeding has a big potential harm – like drug dealing, this is why it carries a high penalty.

well said G

I am not sympathising with him, I am all for harsh sentencing. I would just like to see some harsher sentences in relation to crimes that actually have a victim.

Mostly it’s what’s online at the time Megan.

The CT is our source of choice but we like to move as fast as we can.

As you will see, the story was submitted at 8.30am. I will link to whatever electronic source I can find easily. The web monkeys at the Canberra Times don’t seem to get out of bed until after 9am.

I see Mr Shorthall has attracted a crowd of sympathisers over on the CT site.

Why do you refer only to the Australian’s coverage of the Bentley driver? The Canberra Times was the first newspaper to identify the driver and was the only newspaper in the court when Shortall was sentenced.

Oops, I didn’t mean to italicise the whole message, sorry.

Speed doesn’t kill, driving at an inappropriate speed increases the likelyhood of death, but the speed itself does not.
This is technically correct, but can you give an example to show that the difference you have identified is significant?
I mean, this is similar to saying that falling from a great height doesn’t kill people, it’s the sudden stop at the bottom that does.

oops, that should have been S3, not SG.

Sorry LG and SG, you are both ever so slightly wrong. Speed doesn’t kill, driving at an inappropriate speed increases the likelyhood of death, but the speed itself does not. The “speed kills” message is repeated often enough that people start to believe it, and it’s dumbing down the debate.

LG, I understand where you are coming from I have known someone who was killed by a drunk driver speeding on the wrong side of the road. He got community service and a good behaviour bond. What I am after is some sort of consistancy in sentencing. Crimes where someone gets injured,etc should hold a far greater penalty than one where someone doesn’t.

Go LG! I agree with your sentiments completely, but was unable to articulate them as clearly as you have.

Oh for Fuck’s sake!!! Are we having this argument AGAIN???? Openyourmind and bonfire, it doesn’t matter, the fact is he broke the law. This is the law here. Regardless of what you think, speed DOES kill people. If it didn’t, we would be allowed to go as fast as we wanted. Obviously niether of you have ever had someone you care about killed on the road by someone with the same attitude you have. I have. Trust me, it is a lot more of a miscarriage of justice than the punishment he is getting. If people learn from this, then good. Personally, I would rather this guy went to prison for a miserable 6 months than some per person lost their mother FOREVER.

Get over the self gratification. Get over the “but I want to do it and I don’t care if anyone else gets hurt”. Get over thinking your need for speed is the be all and end all.

Or just go out in the bush, get up to full speed and plough in to a tree. That would be the best solution for all of us, I think.

I’m not disagreeing that there are many other factors which affect road fatalities, but a dementia patient doing 110km/h is less likely to kill someone than a dementia patient doing 230km/h (someone who is consistently disregarding other road users must be getting pretty close to some form of dementia).
Oh, and I couldn’t see anywhere in that article where it said “fatalities”, just “car accidents”. What turns an accident into a fatality? Speed (or at least the sudden impact..).

I read an article about the American national road limit being increased from 55mph (88kph) to 80 mph (128mph) (waiting room somewhere?) apparently from the data gained there was a significant decrease in the number of road deaths on the highways. I am not saying that this is necessarily going to be exactly the same here although as roads get better, flatter, straighter fatigue increases as they are boring to drive along. Increase the speed limits and cut the time on the road.

The piece of road around Lake George is excellent since the upgrade. I agree that the problems arise when there are cars doing significantly different speeds, such as slip lanes. An increase in posted spped limits would then be accompanied by longer slip lanes to increas or decrease the speed so that merging is seemless. (Gee I have an ideal world pictured here)

In relation to bonfires comments and the article on early dementia there are systems in place for our elderly people to have licence tests more often.


Can we implement compulsory vasectomies as well so he can’t continue to dillute the gene pool ?

230kph isn’t a problem when all the other road users are doing a similar speed (for example on the autobahn), provided that the road is designed for such a speed.

It becomes far more dangerous, however, when the majority of other road users are travelling at a significantly slower speed – around 110kph (a speed differential of around 120kph).

As was noted in the ABC news article, it was also very dangerous at points where vehicles enter the road – rest stop exits and intersections.

It is true that the NT has an open speed limit on some main highways. However, the traffic density up there is significantly lower than it is on the Hume/Federal Highways. The other reason for it is the vast distances between towns in the NT, which means that fatigue is as much (if not more) of a factor than speed in many highway accidents.

Given the man’s previous history (20 traffic infringements since 1992) and his obvious disregard for the safety of his fellow road users, I reckon the judge was right to lock him up for six months.

I like the natural selection ideals that Chalker is going on about, however do feel for the poor victims. Perhaps instead of getting cars that go faster and faster, we could look at developing cars that can withstand a 231kmph projectile impact then let nature take its course ?

Chalker, I would argue that there are many other factors excluding speed which have a greater impact upon fatalities on the road. I offer as exhibit 312 an article from todays abc online, regarding drivers in lala land below:

Thursday, June 23, 2005. 10:43am (AEST)
Dementia drivers cause thousands of accidents: study
A new study funded by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has found up to 100,000 car accidents each year are caused by elderly drivers with early dementia or the pre-dementia condition called mild cognitive impairment.

For the first time in Australia, older drivers with mild dementia have been subjected to a driving test and the results showed a dangerous failure rate of more than 70 per cent.

Chief researcher Carol Snellgrove has told the ABC’s AM program, the results are potentially catastrophic and has recommended that all drivers with low-level dementia have their licences cancelled.

But groups like Alzheimer’s Australia say a blanket ban is too restrictive and is not the right way to go.

The study is the first research in Australia that actually examines the driving performance of older people with mild cognitive impairment and early dementia.

Chief researcher Carol Snellgrove is a clinical psychologist at the Repatriation Hospital in Adelaide.

“Those people who had mild cognitive impairment, which is the stage between normal cognitive age and early dementia, 50 per cent of those participants failed the onroad driving test,” she said.

“For the people with early dementia 75 per cent failed the onroad driving test.

“Nearly 50 per cent of my group’s participants required physical intervention during the on road assessment by the instructor to prevent them from having a car accident and over 90 per cent of them broke at least one important road law such as driving through a red light.”

She says the results prove older drivers with mild dementia are a real danger.

“I would describe those figures as potentially catastrophic,” she said.

“If you have a look at the report it can be estimated that up to 100,000 crashes in Australia per year are attributable to people driving with mild cognitive impairment or early dementia.”

Ms Snellgrove says the state and territory governments must pay attention to the results and formulate policy accordingly.

“Given these results, I would recommend that older people with even the earliest stages of dementia be precluded from driving,” she said.

Ms Snellgrove says taking driving licences away from older people obviously creates problems and adequate alternative transport should be provided.

Ella Glazebrook from Alzheimer’s Australia says taking driving licences away from all people withe early dementia is not the answer.

“Obviously we don’t want to see anyone injured on the roads but where that step is taken prematurely we often see a huge loss of self-esteem and worth on the part of the person with dementia,” she said.

“I’ve known of cases where that particular issue has been attributed as the one thing that really just made everything fall apart in that person’s world.”

Alzheimer’s Australia says decisions about a person’s driving ability should be made on a case by case basis because early dementia affects different people in different ways.

Hit a bump in the road at those types of speeds (and there are plenty of them) and you’ll have difficulty keeping control of the car.

Here we go again speed freaks…
While I might agree that under ideal condititions, where nothing goes wrong (either with you, the car, the road, or another road user), with a car “desinged” for those speeds, etc, ask yourself this:
What if something does go wrong? At 231 km/h, that’s the same as 64 meters per second! How far is it to an oncoming lane? A hell of a lot less than 64 meters. What’s your reaction time like? Hand eye reaction time is about 0.16 s. That means your car will travel at least 10 meters before you even react. How far away is that oncoming lane again? Also less than 10 meters. So what happens when your (insert preffered model of car) gets a nail through a tire, or has its windsheild speckled by a flying piece of gravel or whatever, and you veer out of control into a lane of oncoming traffic with mum & dad in their station wagon with 2.1 kids?
Answer: they’re probably DEAD.

I agree with bonfire – seems a case of Bentley-envy from Hizzoner – according to 2CC this am (Mike Jeffreys) or a caller – both Singo and Lionel Rose got off with a caution for doing exactly the thing thing a while back.

i think you will find that most highways are in fact designed for speeds in excess of 150kmh plus. i spent quite an interesting afternoon discussing this with a road engineer in a pub one day.

the hume in its upgraded sections is one of those roads.

another example of pointless laws that have no effect except in revenue raising. this time a man is gaoled for a ‘crime’ that the social engineers have created.

forget schappelle – this is the true miscarriage of justice.

Well he wasn’t driving in Dubai, or the Northern Territory. European Authobahns are designed and maintained for high speeds. The stretch of road along Lake George is hardly comparable.

Never mind the danger he put other road users in – who clearly felt compelled to report him to the Police.

Given his record I think 6 months is lenient.

As I refered to in a previous post. $450 fine for Assault ABH and unlawful confinement and 6 months in the box for driving fast. Go figure where the Courts priorities are.

OpenYourMind10:01 am 23 Jun 05

231 in a Bentley is no big deal. In fact if he did it in some parts of the Northern Territory he wouldn’t even be breaking the law. Drive in Europe for a while and you’ll realise these speeds aren’t that unusual.

6mths jail seems a bit harsh to me.

Interestingly, in Dubai, the police recently had a blitz on speeding and booked 90 drivers for doing in excess of 250km/h.

This guy should be disqualified from driving for the rest of his life.

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