The Dog’s Bollocks

Truth is like a dog’s bollocks – pretty obvious if you care to look.

The Burnley tunnel Truck Grand-Prix

Truck with crushed car in Burnley TunnelSome weeks ago I drove through the Burnley Tunnel during Friday evening peak hour fearing for my life as the traffic hurtled through with tail-gating, lane-hopping semi-trailer freighters, acutely aware that one tiny mishap would bring instant carnage.

These days I mostly drive in the country, but I’m convinced that drivers generally, and especially in the cities, are completely disconnected with the reality of what’s really involved when driving a couple of tons of metal at high speed. It’s like it’s just one big video game, the object being to beat all other players, despite the reality that lane-hopping and rally driving techniques in congested traffic results in no significant reduction of travel time.

When I learnt to drive at age sixteen, my dad managed to convey to me that the safest way to drive was to assume that all drivers are idiots, and to drive defensively with the assumption that something will go wrong eventually. Unfortunately, and tragically, that is what happened yesterday in the Burnley Tunnel. At least one truck appears to have been driving too fast to avoid collision when traffic had ground to a halt, with predictable consequences. Surely it’s time to restrict freight transport to a single lane through obvious bottlenecks such as the Burnley and Domain Tunnels and the Westgate Bridge.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been tail-gated by a semitrailer in congested traffic. It’s scary enough that tail-gating is the default option of 80% of all drivers, it should be a licence-forfeiting crime for professional truck drivers. The Princes Freeway from Geelong to Melbourne is always a scary and frustrating drive. There are several fatalities a year on this road, most of them involving more than one vehicle. Almost no-one leaves anything resembling a safe braking distance between vehicles – and when you do, other drivers take it as an opportunity to rush in to fill the gap with a chain reaction of braking vehicles back down the line. I find the safest way to maintain vehicle distance during congestion periods on the Princes Freeway is to sit right on the speed limit in the right hand lane. Under congested conditions, all lanes are required to carry traffic at maximum capacity. The notion of keep left unless overtaking is quite meaningless, especially when the road has speed cameras at every flyover.

I routinely drive the Great Ocean Road between Geelong and Lorne – a journey around 50 minutes and 76 km. I have passed or been passed by cars outside of Lorne, only to pull up next to them at the first traffic lights in Geelong. The reality is that the journey will take just as long as the traffic congestion allows and no amount of dangerous, aggressive and stressful driving will get you there any quicker. If the car you are tailgating is involved in a head-on collision around the next blind corner, you will be crumpled up in its boot before you can even register that anything has happened.

So next time you drive, please contemplate the dangerous reality of what you are doing, and try to remember that for all your aggressive or unconscious driving, you won’t get there any sooner. It’s not just about you.

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Filed under: Big Picture, Nonsense, Technology

4 Responses

  1. “been passed by cars outside of Lorne, only to pull up next to them at the first traffic lights in Geelong.”

    I have had that experience myself, being terrorised by a maniac truck at night from Winchelsea to Colac traffic lights. I wanted to punch him but he jumped the green and got away.

    Having driven the Western Highway in all conditions, I am amazed when in driving rain at night, no trucks slow to account for the reduced visibility (you remember ‘driving rain’ don’t you?).

    and don’t get me started on sedans who slide sideways into the space in front of trucks when the highway hits the traffic lights at Ballarat. Every damn time.

    It will be interesting to see if this tunnel collision leads to us adopting the UK one-lane for trucks system, and a 50kph speed for the entire tunnel distance.
    HighRiser.blogspot has some great video of trucks crashing in tunnels.

  2. nathan wells says:

    my name is nathan and i drive trucks.I drive in a deffensive manner because car drivers in melbourne are either suicidal or retarded.everyday you get some dickhead trying to save 2 seconds of his trip by cutting you of or just displaying sheer arrogance and contempt for other road users so they can get there faster.or you get fuckheads on motorbikes cutting in and out but then wonder why they have there fucking head squashed by a truck.ive seen that its not cool. please car drivers of melbourne have more respect for all trucks and every one else on the road its just not worth those extra minutes you save on overall trip

  3. ep training says:

    As “Go Away Please” says – it is certainly an advantage for us here in the UK that we have more stringent rules for lorry drivers on fast roads. Driving in Australia sounds scary from what this article shows.

  4. I agree – more road rules would definitely seem appropriate.

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The Dog’s Bollocks

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