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VIC Ian Johnston speaks out against current road safety strategy

Discussion in 'Politics, Laws, Government & Insurance' started by Dazzler, Apr 3, 2014.

  1. April 2nd, 2014.
    What motives: sell his book, come up with some new ways to suck $$ out of State Govt??.


    A LEADING auto safety expert has called for all revenue from speeding fines to go directly into building safer roads.
    And the government’s constant focus on speed is blinding us to other causes of car crashes, warns
    Professor Ian R Johnston, former director of Monash University’s Accident Research Centre.
    The national road toll fell to its lowest level in 89 years in 2013 but more than 200,000 people are expected to be injured on Australian roads between now and 2020.


    Injury rates are not falling as dramatically and are a bigger financial burden on the community because of the ongoing medical treatment.
    “Australia is simply not the world leader in road safety it portrays itself to be,” says Prof Johnston.
    “Road deaths are only the tip of the iceberg, there are about 30,000 serious injuries a year,” said Professor Johnston. “We’ve got to put the focus on the 30,000 injuries, not on the 1200 deaths.”
    Professor Johnston said the community has become complacent about road safety “because we’re forever told the number of people killed on the roads is coming down”.
    He says the current levels of speed enforcement need to be maintained, but using fines to lower the road toll “has almost reached its limit” and more needs to be done to address other causes of car crashes.
    “We do need a high level of enforcement but I am totally opposed to governments that use speed enforcement as, and I hesitate to use the words, revenue raising,” said Professor Johnston.
    “The money from speeding fines goes straight into consolidated revenue and I’m totally opposed to that. Instead, let’s put every dollar we collect straight back into the road system.”

    Professor Johnston said it was “amazing” the current system works as well as it does “because people are making mistakes all the time”.
    “Almost everybody gets a driving licence these days, and all levels of skill are out there,” said Professor Johnston.
    “If we taught the whole community to play golf, we’re really asking them never to slice, never to hook, never to miss a putt, it’s ridiculous when you think of it like that.”
    Professor Johnston said inattention and poor judgment were just as big a killer on the roads as speeding.
    “They see a car, they misjudge how fast it’s approaching at an intersection and a lot of the time they get away with these errors,” he said. “But sometimes they don’t and there are tragic consequences.”
    The government focus on speed enforcement has lulled drivers into a false sense of security, the Professor warned.
    Professor Johnston is the co-author of a book released this week called: ‘Eliminating Serious Injury and Death from Road Transport, A Crisis of Complacency’.
    “Just because you’re not speeding doesn’t necessarily mean you’re driving safely,” he said. “There are many other causes of serious injury and fatal crashes that aren’t being addressed.”
    Professor Johnston said the media was caught up in the government’s message of portraying speed as the biggest killer on our roads.
    “The crashes we see on television are all the dramatic ones, and by showing us those images all the time we come to believe it’s only hoons who are the problem,” said Professor Johnston.
    “The reality is there are so many other factors in serious injury and fatal crashes that authorities, and for that matter the media, are not paying attention to.”

    He said about 10 per cent of serious injury crashes were caused by excessive speed, but the majority are caused by other factors such as inattention.
    Professor Johnston says because it is hard to enforce fines for driver error, governments need to spend more on building safer roads and upgrading older ones.
    “Governments will tell you they’re spending billions on roads but the reality is it is very difficult to accurately measure how much is spent on making the roads safer,” said Professor Johnston.
    “Governments will say that resurfacing a road makes it safer. That may be true but they neglect to mention that stretch of road still lacks barriers that stop people from hitting trees, or that the dangerous or poorly marked intersection hasn’t been addressed.”
    Professor Johnston said failure to invest sufficiently in safer roads will see almost a quarter of a million Australians injured between now and 2020, “and that’s unacceptable”.
    “We wouldn’t accept those numbers in any other mode of transport,” he said.
    Professor Johnston praised the work of police and said current enforcement levels should be maintained, but more needed to be done to address the road safety issues beyond speed.
    “I want to see governments accept responsibility for building safer roads. If the community understood the size of the problem, there’d be more pressure on governments.”
    Professor Johnston said it is cheaper and more profitable for governments to enforce the law and fine drivers than it is to build safer roads.
    “We’ve taken police enforcement almost as far as we can, and we’ve got to maintain it. But you can’t regulate against inattention and bad judgment,” he said.
    “We’ve got to start thinking about other causes of car crashes. The community needs to say ‘we will not accept this any more’ then governments can start investing in roads and other safety measures.”
    Professor Johnston was the director of the Monash University Accident Centre from 2000 to 2006. He is now the Adjunct Professor at Monash University’s Injury Research Institute.

  2. I read that and had to shake my head - as head of the MUARC he spruiked the Speed Kills line with the best - his studies helped pave the way for the thou shalt not speed policies of today.
  3. He's speaking a lot of sense (in a no-duh kind of way), though I don't agree with his defeatist attitude towards the problems of inattention, bad decision making, and bad driving habits. Perhaps he's right and addressing these things really is a lost cause, but has it ever been attempted? Have we had any media campaigns that educate about the kind of little mistakes (e.g. not indicating, not performing head checks, making assumptions about lanes being free, not accounting for faster-moving traffic etc) that cost motorcyclists' lives?
  4. This is the same guy that urged governments to be 'brave' enough to lower speed limits to levels that discouraged travel. The same who a few years ago was convinced that it was ALL about speed. The same who strongly argued against increasing training.
    No credibility.
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  5. yeah, pretty hypocritical to push the 'speed kills' at all costs during his time at Monash and then come out with this now.
  6. Turning -from slip lane - to the middle lane just after my light goes green == grrrrr!

    This post brought to you by Niggling Irritation™.
  7. Problem is, he's not stupid, so you'd imagine he has a reason for these comments.
    He is releasing a book currently, so maybe a publicity grab?

    His current bio reads- "previously Ian was Director of the Monash University Accident Research Centre until the end of 2006 and still retains an affiliation as an Adjunct Professor. Ian is Deputy Chair on the Board of the National Transport Commission, a non-executive Director on the Board of the Driver Education Centre of Australia Ltd (Australia's largest professional driver training organisation), and a member of the Core Advisory Group of the World Bank's Global Road Safety Facility."
  8. There is one other aspect to this that I find particularly frustrating - the focus is still on 'reinforcing road rules', even when the Prof admits (for any number of reasons outlined above) that the issue is most often poor skills....so rather than punishing people for not knowing any better, the focus should be on teaching better skills (yes, the unpalatable idea of actually expecting Australians to have a minimum skillset above parallel parking) and then refocussing enforcement to support this. I remember a Mr Skaife suggesting a remarkably similar idea when he returned from a trip to Germany (where driving skills are very high)...only to be shouted down by policy makers....
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  9. He's responsible for this mindset and now he's having second thoughts? FUKKIM
  10. Johnstone (and therefore MUARC) has always been opposed to training as a solution, and still is. You can see it in this statement supporting top down management measures.
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  11. In the Australian national road safety strategy, they have committed to the SAFE systems principles which fully understands that drivers make mistakes, but they shouldn't pay a high price for their mistakes if the system is properly accommodating. In other words, please crash safely.

    Safe Speed is one of the pillars of the system - which is coupled with enforcement.

    People is another pillar however, you can barely find a word about training in this pillar - as the focus is fully on compliance / enforcement and alcohol/drugs.

    Safe roads is a useful pillar as is Safe Vehicles - but in the latter, the focus is on technology.

    Nowhere in the SAFE system is there a focus on producing better road users except for improvements to the graduated licensing schemes. Once you're out there and licensed, it's up to the police to keep you compliant and up to road and car engineering to mitigate your injuries when you crash.

    In the article, the prof isn't saying let up on speed enforcement, but it's now reached the point of diminishing returns... in other words, in his world view, speed was a low hanging fruit which has been picked. Time to add other aspects to the strategy.
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  12. “Australia is simply not the world leader in road safety it portrays itself to be,” says Prof Johnston.

    And who contributed to this outcome over the past few decades ?

    Book coming out = self interest written all over this press release :p
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  13. Hi Rob, how true. However, there has been roads infrastructure pillar improvements over the last 30 years in the creation of multi lane highways and freeways that have significantly reduced head on accidents, particularly interstate highways/freeways.

    I still say he is a smart man looking to his business future. What is the next lowest fruit OR the next best way to extract $$$ for his interests?

    If he can plant the seed of an idea in the heads of the 'decision makers' (and the sheeple who invariably fall into line), that after all the hard work demonising speed and shifting public acceptance of the evils of speed and therefore the need for the bitter pill of enforcement for the good of all (especially Govt coffers)he has now identified the next problem and has the solution if they want to listen.

    Social engineering on Victorian roads so far:
    Seat Belts - Drink Driving - Speeding - Active and passive driver aids (on-going) - ?? what next

    I bet it is Driver Education looking at his current interests on the board of DECA. So how can he create a revenue stream or financial benefit for Govt out of training?
  14. Consultant.
  15. Just curious about the comments where he used to be only about speed and has changed his mind.

    Personally - I'm glad to see someone who can change their mind after a few years, rather than stick to the same slogan years after years, when they know they've made a mistake as does everyone else. This is why our politicians look like such idiot's. None are willing to say 'oh, I buggered up - let me fix this' and all prefer to push on with the mistake once they make it at the detriment to the whole country.

    Not saying I agree with everything - but would you prefer this - or him sticking to the same 'speed kills' slogan still like the pollies are?

    Not convinced about the whole revenue going back into roads either. I know it sounds good in practice - but it's just accounting. If the govt was to do this, they'd probably lower the road budget by the same amount of revenue being raised and spend it somewhere else so nothing would change in the bottom line - it would just be a smoke screen. Sounds good - but I don't trust governments.
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