30 August 2021

Probing the polls: speeding fines and pothole payments

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Pothole

Turns out all the wet weather has been wreaking havoc on our roads. Photo: File.

While COVID stalks the city, our everyday concerns remain real and this week, our polls are all about the roads, from speeding fines to cavernous potholes.

Readers were generally irritated by the decision to change speed limits in Civic to 40km/h along Northbourne Avenue, rejecting the idea that this was a safety measure that would protect pedestrians.

Thousands have been pinged by the speed cameras in recent months, but plenty of people also thought there had been ample warning and that drivers must have known they were doing the wrong thing.

We asked: Are the speed limit changes and fines on Northbourne a good idea?

A total of 826 people voted. Your choices were to vote Yes, they protect pedestrians and were well signposted. This received 33 per cent of the total, or 273 votes.

Alternatively, you could vote No, they won’t change safety and are all about revenue raising. This received 67 per cent of the total, or 553 votes.

This week we’re wondering about whether the ACT Government should pay for pothole damage to your car.

There have been potholes aplenty after this very wet winter (including a monster just outside the Region Media office).

Car fan Taylah Kolaric says she sustained significant damage to her new white Falcon after driving through cold mix washed out of a stretch of potholes on Belconnen Way in Hawker.

Taylah was less than thrilled with the outcome dealing with the ACT Government, although some Canberrans have successfully claimed damages from the ACT Government after being able to substantiate damage.

READ ALSO Government pays out $37,000 in pothole claims but Taylah’s fight goes on

The ACT Government does not automatically accept liability for these sorts of incidents, but a government spokesperson confirmed that there had been 61 claims from drivers for damage to their vehicles from potholes in the last two financial years, and it had paid out $37,320.

So should the taxpayer be funding damage claims? Not everyone thought so.

Peter Bucke wrote: “Can we also claim compensation for punctures from nails and screws littered around streets from knock-down rebuilds?”

Others pointed to the proliferation of low profile tyres, described by some as little other than “rubber bands”, and the risks they pose.

But Damien Hawkes, who had a similar experience, wrote: “Generally speaking, the government is liable for damages from the time they are notified and have knowledge of the issue up until they fix it/place signage/take action to mitigate the risk to road users. If the repair started to fail and they weren’t aware at the time of the incident it’s going to be hard to win that claim.”

Another user thought Fix My Street could work better.

“Really, it needs accept or reject the outcome buttons. I put in a report that my stock-standard car bottoms out and scrapes on my partner’s driveway apron and the footpath where the concrete has lifted. They came out and did a great job grinding the apron but the footpath was untouched.

“My car still bottoms out when crossing the footpath and it remains a trip hazard. A simple button to say ‘no, not fixed yet’ would be far better than having to completely submit again and would have also been helpful to Ms Kolaric.”

Our question this week is:

Should the ACT Government pay for damage caused by poor road conditions?

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Can I claim reimbursement for the brakes I had to replace prematurely because of all the speed bumps everywhere? (Normally I get well over 100,000km out of a set of pads, but I had to replace the last set at only 45,000km). Which of course begs the question: why waste money fixing potholes when the ACT Government is just wasting more money installing “inverted potholes” (aka. speedbumps) everywhere?

Of course they should pay to fix your car in these circumstances.

Our cars need to be roadworthy and their roads need to be carworthy.

You can’t always miss a new pothole when you are driving in traffic, they can pop up out of nowhere.

What is with the people who create these poll questions. They come across as the type of people who set up polls designed to give the result they want.

How about as well as the “No” and “Yes” options there is a “Perhaps” one.

Potholes are a part of driving. Care should be taken when driving and sometimes bad luck just happens. So in general I’d go with “No’. But I have seen cases where the potholes seem to occur again and again at the same place despite band-aid attempts to fix them, and also places where a hole has just grown bigger and more dangerous over weeks or months and appear to just be ignored.

So in some cases I would argue the government is at fault because they have failed to make a reasonable effort to resolve the problem.

So I’ll put my vote on “Perhaps”.

If anyone is interested we could vote on whether the poll makers on Riotact are:
A) Trying to manipulate the results
B) Really bad at polls (i.e. would fail a high school assignment requiring them to conduct a poll)

(I did have a third option but deleted it as it seemed more in the spirit of the typical Riotact poll to only provide two)

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