The fight to lower the road toll needs your help

The Police need your help. Credit: Stuff

I talked a few weeks ago about what might happen if we got rid of traffic police altogether. If you were on holiday and missed it, you can read it here. I discussed how the road toll might be affected, and some possibly better ways to spend the huge amount of money that traffic policing costs, like on targeting suicide prevention.

Now clearly we are never going to have the traffic police disbanded, but if we want to see the needless road deaths reduced, we can’t leave it solely to the police. There is only so much that can be gained by their concentration on the evils of momentum. After all, inappropriate speed is only a factor in about 20% of fatal crashes.

So let’s look at some things that you personally can do to not only protect yourself while out there driving but also to help with the greater goal of reducing road trauma.

I think it’s time to Bring Back The Flash.

In the previous post mentioned above, I discussed how I was recently able to encourage a speeding driver to slow down by flashing my lights briefly at him. This is something we can all do, but it has to be done in a thoughtful manner.

Remember the whole point of a police car sitting at the side of the road doing traffic enforcement is to try and reduce road trauma. Sure there is an enforcement aspect to it; the idiots need to be caught. But it’s not supposed to be about making money, the greater good is really the education that the patrol car’s presence provides. It’s about changing people’s habits, so let’s help out.

As there is a kind of ‘halo’ of safe driving within about a one kilometre radius of a patrol car, it would make sense to try and increase this radius. Now I am not suggesting that you flash to warn drivers that are clearly driving way too fast or dangerously; we actually want them to be caught. However, when you see a patrol car or speed camera sitting at the side of the road, if you let others know that there may be an officer around the corner, for say the next two or three km, you are massively increasing the size of that halo.

But we need to be clever about this for it to work, so here are my do’s and don’ts for helping the police spread the education word.

  1. Don’t flash clear offenders if there actually is a patrol waiting on their path; we want them to be caught.
  2. Do flash regular drivers who are clearly not speeding; they will think about their speed and notice the officer when they get to them. Their driving will then remain good for a longer time period, so halo extended.
  3. Do flash clearly speeding drivers when you don’t think there is a patrol about, they will likely slow down and you may just save someone’s life.
  4. Do flash for speed camera vans if they are placed in unreasonable positions, such as the middle of a passing lane; their positioning there actually makes the area less safe in my opinion.
  5. Don’t keep flashing traffic for ages: 2 to 3 km maximum, otherwise you reduce the effect.
  6. Don’t blind other drivers. Be sensible.

Remember, this is not about helping people avoid tickets, but about helping people concentrate on good driving by increasing their impression that there are lots of cops about.

SH1, Dec 2018. Photo: ExPFC.

If the government lose a bit of revenue because they are not issuing tickets when their vans are in dangerous places like this one above, perhaps they will move them to areas where they might actually do some good and not cause people to slam on the brakes when they are half way through legitimately overtaking.

Safer communities together people.