Thursday, 28 November 2013

Double White Lines

Hate to whinge but I think this is an issue I need to raise in the interests of keeping people alive in beautiful Far South Tasmania and perhaps other places too. It's been drawn to my attention recently that a huge number of our drivers (and it used to include me until I had this drawn to my attention, hence my interest in sharing with you)...a huge number of our drivers cross double white lines when driving. I completely understand why people do it. It is less trouble than staying on the right side of the road when tackling all those little and larger bends in our roads. The thing is that it seems to have become a habit that we give little thought to. I admit to having a few little Graham Hill moments as I traversed the bends between Dover and Huonville...only when the road is dry of course...I think there is a little racing driver in us all, but now that I've had the error in my ways pointed out, I'm going to do the same for you (if you do it too) and maybe keep you safer than you might have been.

According to page 8 of the Tasmanian Road Rules Booklet, continuous double white lines are not to be crossed unless to avoid a hazard on the road, and only then if it is safe. The reason for continuous double white lines is that a driver's view of oncoming traffic is considered insufficient for safe maneuvering of the vehicle to the opposite side of the road. I have noticed in recent times that many Tasmanian vehicles are crossing those lines to a significant degree and are coming very close to colliding with me who is driving the other way. Habits come very easily, and especially bad ones! It's easier to drive a straighter line to where you are going, but it is also more dangerous; not just for you but for your passengers and other road users. Consider how you would feel if you were responsible for killing or maiming someone just because you were in a bit of a hurry or driving a little lazily; being a little too relaxed about it all.

We can blame the condition of the roads. We can blame being distracted. We can claim that there's not a lot of traffic on our roads so we can relax a bit and it will all be okay. Reality is that the amount of traffic is increasing all the time. Reality is that large vehicles use our roads and they cannot get out of your way easily. Reality is that if you are on the wrong side of the road, for a great many stretches on our roads here, there is nowhere for the driver coming the other way to go to get out of your way. Reality is that you are driving at 80 or 90 kph on narrow windy roads, and the guy (or mum with a carload of kids) is coming the other way at a similar speed, and you are passing each other with about 30-40cm of air between you. If you're both on your own sides of the road, you might have a metre or a metre and a half. It's not much air guys. If someone gets distracted for a moment, it's a recipe for disaster.

May I contend that it's a miracle or at least a mystery that we have not lost lives or more lives on these roads with the way many of us are driving. I don't know how many accidents there have been but I do know there are a lot of 'near misses'. I've seen a lot. I bet you have too. I know a lot of people now drive larger vehicles, 4WDs or RVs, and they may have the impression that because they are up higher and have a better view of the road, that they can get away with crossing the lines and still being safe. I would say to you, remember that you are not the only person you need to think about. The person coming the other way may be less than completely focused on driving. They may be distracted or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. They may be distressed for some reason and not concentrating. We can say that they  shouldn't be driving if that's the case, but we all know the pressure we are under to go places and to be places. Life is busy. People do things without thinking sometimes. The more of us that are consciously making the decision to drive safely, the better chance we have of taking up the slack where others aren't taking care. 

This is sounding a lot like a lecture. I suppose it is in a sense. I want you to have a think about your own driving habits and the habits of those you drive with. Cutting corner is easy, but it is not really wise. We drive so often and take it for granted that we can jump in the car and go without a second thought. For many people around our beautiful state and our beautiful country, an innocent and everyday journey has ended in tragedy. Do your very best always to ensure that you do not become one of them.

Drive safely people. Think carefully. Be wise.

PS Something else I just thought about. If you drive with your children in the car, they are likely to do what you do when they grow up and get their licences to drive. If you cut corners so will they. If you break the speed limits so will they. If you drive with one hand on the wheel, so will they.  If you drive safely and respect the laws of the road, then there is more chance that they will too. You are your children's best teachers. Teach them well by example. Thank you.

PPS Oh, and crossing continuous double white lines is breaking the law. Just sayin'.

Please leave a comment if this has made you think about your own driving habits if you dare! I'd love to hear from you. Kerry :)

1 comment:

  1. hear hear Kerry. This habit some drivers have drives me nuts! And having a 4WD is no excuse for hogging the road either, yet so many do. Why? And then what about where there are no lines at all and drivers think that entitles them to drive in the middle of the road and are resistant to moving over when a car is coming the other way, even when there's room! TSK TSK TSK!
    It's a timely reminder for us all Kerry, me included, to drive safely all the time.