This is an email thread I've been involved in with one of the people involved in studies published by the RTA etc. Note how I've gone out of my way to accept some of the factors they have brought up, yet the arrogance and defensiveness of the replies when the conversation started to question the study is unbelievable. I mean is this guy a pimply teenager with a lack of self confidence?
You'll have to read this in reverse as per normal email threads.
Sorry for the length of the post.
It's interesting to note that someone mirroring your position in the USA also seems to have a dismissive view of people who question road safety reserach:
I wonder (and will find out eventually) how many of these studies
supporting blatant fleecing of motorists with revenue cameras and increased insurance premiums have been funded by insurance companies and other interest holders such as the RTA or Police. Was yours?
Looking at your study it is with great humour that I note some of the conclusions of the report are able to be made by statistical samples of, oh, shall we say small data points. Or statistical comparison of data sets separated by over 15 years on the "same" roads. Same in what way? Haven't roads and cars improved since 1978?
The point of what I am saying is that if you can't take people
questioning your research you shouldn't be doing what you're doing. If that was the case people in my game could say planes are safe and we've been designing and selling planes for decades so who are you (public member who lost a family member) telling us how to do our job.
Take a look at what you said to me and tell me how I could accept it as anything other than arrogant.
A closed door policy is proof of an insecurity, an admission of
Please accept this message as a fitting reply to yours.
From: Jack McLean [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, April 09, 2003 3:03 PM
To: Peter M
Subject: RE: Road Safety Related to Speeding
I have been working on road accident research for 40 years, with
emphasis on at-scene and epidemiolgical investigations. My PhD work was at the Harvard School of Public Health. I take offence at your suggestion that I choose my research topics on the basis of the answer that I expect to get.
Read your last paragraph below. Don't you think that perhaps you might be looking for data to support your preconceived views?
I think that there is little point in continuing this exchange of
views but please read our research reports.
>Yes, I guess so. Not afraid to say I'm wrong, however on the other >hand neither am I afraid to say some urban speed limits are too >high. In fact some are out of touch with reality. I see 70 zones >past roadside parking out the front of shops around blind corners >yet drivers still go past at 70. Go figure. And yet Montana has seen >a different and opposite result.
>However, what I was getting at in my last email was that I have seen >arguments on both sides of the equation based on 'research' where it >is clear a mandate or idea was conceived beforehand. Take a typical >thesis - how many students end up with a thesis that discredits their >initial scope? Not many.
>For the reasons above, whilst the NT has a higher fatality 'rate'
>what other factors are involved? Is it the high number of foreign
>drivers, wildlife, large vehicles, high CofG and heavily laden
>vehicles (4WDs and caravans etc)?
>I guess I might as well admit that in my time in the aviation
>industry including being involved in incident investigations I have never seen the same approach we are seeing with a single minded and apparently myopic emphasis on speed as the evil axis of road safety. No one I discuss this issue with believes the speed versus BAC relationship nor the relative risk factors as they seem very, very extreme.
>To help I should clarify my aim: place the onus on educated and
>trained drivers to drive carefully and within the abilities of
>themselves and their vehicle. Don't set a blanket ceiling (too low
>or too high in many cases) for low skilled drivers telling them
>they're safe up to that point.
>From: Jack McLean [mailto:email@example.com]
>Sent: Wednesday, April 09, 2003 1:57 PM
>To: Peter M
>Subject: RE: Road Safety Related to Speeding
>Admit you were wrong about the NT fatality rate.
>>I am interested in knowing whether you are aware of the reverse fatality trend for highway speed limits as indicated in the
>>I am getting the feeling that 'results' are proving to be a better
>>indicator than so called 'research'. I suspect it's just the nature
>>of our processes that any 'research' is driven by a pre conceived idea. For example, was there an assumption or brief before the 1997 study was undertaken?
>>From: Jack McLean [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
>>Sent: Wednesday, April 09, 2003 12:52 PM
>>To: Peter M
>>Subject: Re: Road Safety Related to Speeding
>>The research you refer to is accessible on our web site:
>>The RTA site presents an accurate summary of our research.
>>The NT has a fatality rate that is 3 times greater than any other
>>State, based on either population or distance travelled.
>>>I must excuse myself for contacting you directly and taking your
>>>time, however I am now heavily involved in campaigning on Road
>>>Safety and in particular trying to shift our government's focus from
>>>taking pictures of people and raking in millions of dollars to
>>>pursuing the issue of human factors and driver behaviours.
>>>I am particularly taken aback by organisations such as the RTA NSW
>>>who love taking small quotes from research and drumming these
>>>'facts' over and over into the eyes and ears of the public to
>>>support their actions. In this case I am asking for clarification on
>>>the 'research' that points to equivalency between blood alcohol and
>>>speeding, and relative risk factors for small speeding increments.
>>>See the reference website:
>>>Can you please advise where I can get a copy of this research paper?
>>>Also, I have heard that the people who conducted this research
>>>(perhaps yourself included) may at some stage have claimed such
>>>representations from the RTA and others may be a mis quote of the
>>>actual findings. Is this true?
>>>Finally, has any research been done in finding whether higher
>>>freeway and highway speed limits may reduce exposure to fatigue and
>>>actually reduce accidents? (i.e. why such a low fatality rate in the
>>>NT? Why did Montana USA see a reduction in fatalities when it
>>>abolished country area speed limits? German autobahns?)
>>>Thanks so much for your help,