Guaranteeing Safety on the roads

A timely topic as we head out on the annual Christmas travel-fest. It’s dangerous on those roads, and we all need to do something about it.

The NZ Government has come up with their list of measures to reduce fatalities on the road:

Increased demerit penalties for crossing stop lights
Increased demerit penalties for faster speeds as % of limit
Faster loss of license for reoffenders
Easier to confiscate cars
Less material fines
Longer training periods
BOC stays at 0.08%

Those are pretty good – I’m a big fan of the stop light one, but they don’t address the major reason why the USA, say, has a much lower rate of road death than we do.  It’s the quality of the roads, an segregation of the traffic.

BHP Billiton, meanwhile, is also passionate about reducing injuries, especially fatalities. BHPB worked on identifying the leading causes of fatalities, and now are spending considerable time, money and inconvenience to reduce them. (It is rather more inconvenient to die of course).

Here are some of the measures from one of what BHP Billiton calls  “Fatal Risk Control Protocols“.  FRCP 1 aims to eliminate fatalities from Light Vehicles across their sites.

If we were serious about moving from 300 to zero deaths per year, this is what you would see introduced:

15-20 kmph speed limit, depending on site
Zero tolerance for disobeying road signs
ABS and airbags mandatory in all light vehicles
Rollover protection mandatory for all 4WD vehicles
Reflective tape and a light colour
Segregation of pedestrians and traffic where possible
Segregation of light vehicles and industrial vehicles (or use flashing light & flag)
0.00% tolerance for alcohol for everyone on site
Comprehensive pre-start check for each vehicle each day by the driver
Lights on at all times
No mobile phones while driving

Penalties: Kicked off site, out of work, and difficult to get re-employed elsewhere in industry as you are clearly a safety risk.

That’s a great list, though that speed limit is never going to work on the open road . But frankly on a BHPB site I’d have no incentive or felt need to go any faster – safety is much more important to everyone than how quickly you can get from A to B.
Above all, safety on the road starts with the individual. You decide whether you will be safe – and that means making sure you are safe even when everyone else is not. Motorcyclists are very familiar with this approach – there are plenty of times when cars will kill you unless you take action, but there is no sense in being dead and right.

Looking at those BHPB requirements, which are derived from hard evidence, we see that many of them are eminently adoptable by ourselves.

Buy a white car with ABS  & turn those lights on
Don’t drink anything before you drive.
Never go through a stop light
Drive within the limit of the road, vehicle and yourself.
If you are a motorcyclist, then make sure you wear light colours with reflective bits – if you are sliding along  the road you want the cars to see you.

And so – how am I going?

I have white, red and bright orange motorcycles, with lights always on
I almost never drink and drive, and when I do it is max two drinks and lots of time.
I have a pathological need to stop on orange lights (while looking in my mirrors)
I ride fast, but in control, and slow right down near people.
My bike clothing is light and reflective.
But sadly speed limits are relatively arbitrary for me. It’s safety first, limits second. Expect me to be under the limit in a small busy town, and don’t be surprised to find me well above the limit when overtaking.  The speed limit to me has been guidance, and while we should throw the book at people for ‘dangerous driving’, a few kms over a poorly crafted limit is no big deal to me.

So I’m not a fan of the increased demerit points for exceeding a speed (100 kmph) I can do in 3 seconds or so from a standing start.  But I do understand why it has to be this way.

But now let’s fix the roads.

Published by Lance Wiggs


One reply on “Guaranteeing Safety on the roads”

  1. I agree 100%. I find the speed limit quite arbitrary some times. I’m happy to sit in holiday traffic at 80kmhr if it’s not some idiot holding everyone up and I always always slow down for towns, I just assume it was my town and that’s what I want everyone else to do. What I’d really like to see is an advertising campaign encouraging responsible driving, such as letting faster drivers past, not speeding up on clean straught bits of road because you think you’re holding traffic up, how to overtake properly etc etc


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