this is the editor of carpoint magazine thoughts on the hole advertiseing that the governments use on speeding...
The latest round of shock tactic television advertisements from the Victorian Transport Accident Commission is nothing but a blatant slap in the face to all Australians. How thick do they think we, the public, are?
Mindless lemmings without sufficient brain power to think for ourselves, obviously, judging from the thinly disguised propaganda they're dishing up to us... The most sickening -- and disheartening -- aspect of the campaign is we're swallowing it whole.
In case you're not familiar with the advertisement in question, it's a victim's view of a road crash that left her in a coma and fighting for her life. Rachel Roberts tells us her boyfriend was driving at 5km/h over the speed limit. The suitably authoritative voice-over suggests that, had he been sticking to the speed limit, the crash and this lady's trauma which continues today, may not have happened.
Let's look more closely at the circumstances surrounding the event. Let's go beyond what the TAC is prepared to disclose in order to get its "Wipe-off five" message across, and look at the facts they chose to withhold. Rachel Roberts' wrote an account of the crash for the Teenagers' Road Accident Group (www.trag-vic.org
) website, and it's very revealing.
Firstly, the road is the Ringwood-Warrandyte road in outer Melbourne; a typical outer suburban road; narrow, badly surfaced and with no gutters - just mud on the verge. The road on the TV ad is inner suburban; smooth, good gutters, footpaths, the best a man can build.
Second, the real car is a 1978 Ford Escort four-door. Nothing wrong with that. The average Australian car is 10.1 years old, according to the government's own data. The car in the advertisement is a 1993 Ford Laser, which the TAC says it chose "for its similar size and safety features". Ford must be happy to hear its small car safety went nowehere in 15 years.
Third, Ms Roberts' own words say it was raining at the time of the crash. No rain on the TV version. Interestingly no rain on the police crash report, either. Though the photos of the crash clearly show a wet road.
Fourth, Ms Roberts' own words say the tyres on her boyfriends Escort were bald. Her father and her future brother in-law had been telling the driver to "get new tyres on his car". Again, no mention of bald tyres in the ad, and no bald tyres noted in the police report.
Fifth, the driver was on his P plates, and in Ms Roberts' own words "he was inexperienced".
The vehicle's speed, which is the crux of the advertisement, was deemed to be 5km/h over the limit. By who? Witnesses, that's who. How accurately can you judge a car's speed? Try it sometime, and discover how widely your estimate can vary based on the proximity of roadside objects.
There is no doubt that Ms Roberts is the victim of a tragic set of events. There is also no doubt that these events can be avoided. But is wiping 5km/h off a vehicle's speed the answer?
Would tyres with tread have performed better than the car's bald tyres? Would a more experienced driver have read the situation better? Would a better maintained road, without muddy verges and without trees right alongside have resulted in a different outcome?
The most alarming question to come out of this commercial is the abysmal level of intelligence the Victorian TAC attributes to the average driver. Is everything we see on television God's honest truth?
The TAC pursues its 'speed kills' campaign for one reason and - shock horror - it's not the safety of road users. It is to legitimize its use of speed cameras to raise revenue. How else does a government department meet a traffic infringement budget forecast of $392million? That's up $101 million on the previous year.
Want to know how ludicrous this situation is? If more money is expected to be made, then more people are expected to speed. If the government itself predicts more speeding drivers, then clearly people aren't slowing down. If people aren't slowing down, then the road safety campaign is not working!
Or is speeding not the real cause of crashes?
Editor, CarPoint Australia