Better Driver Training Needed to Avoid Death


Here I go singing the same song again.

As many of you Victorians know, at least the majority of Melburnians anyway, there were three incidents today on major exits from the city all in a very, very short space of time, the biggest on the M1 outbound where one is confirmed dead and another critical (at time of writing).

Now from friends in emergency services I was privy to some details (as I stayed at their work while I waited in vain for traffic to die down.)

The initial cause of the accident was a car changing lanes into the path of a truck, not giving enough space and braking. Following behind this truck was a second, bigger truck who, like all trucks I see on the highway, has about the space of a Smart Car between nose and tail. This second truck didn’t have distance to stop in time as well and, due to our natural instinct to avoid ones own demise, the driver turned into the two cars beside him, crushing them into a barrier and killing the driver of one car instantly.

Now the main cause of this incident is poor driver judgement. This leads back to all my road articles talking about inadequate driver training and nothing being enforced on our roads that promotes actual safe road conduct. You can be driving 20 kph under the speed limit, but if you’re tailgating someone or merging, you’re more dangerous than someone driving 20 kph over and giving safe distance.

Now, not being there and only getting my information second-hand, I can merely speculate. However, after many, MANY years of being on Melbourne roads and highways, I can put together a safe assumption of how it could have been avoided.

Melbourne drivers are impatient; they see the slightest gap and they charge up and shove in. They have this sort of tunnel vision that makes them not read the road past the car ahead. So my assumption here is that the first driver saw the space the truck left in case he needed to stop fast, and jumped in the gap without seeing what the flow of traffic was doing until he was part of events.

The second truck driver was riding in the wake of the first, expecting that should the first driver need to stop they wouldn’t have a collision as they would be slowing at a comparable rate. This is incredibly dangerous, as the second truck driver has no vision beyond three feet to the tailgate in front. All hope of judging what is happening is gone.

Sadly the cars to the left were not in the wrong, travelling in their own lanes, but were affected the worst of all involved. When a truck suddenly careens into you, there is not much you can do in the small moment that you have realised what has happened. If you brake you’re going to end up in the wheels, and (I saw one of the cars post-accident) it was not a car with enough power to pull forward to safety in an opening of the throttle. (Not that that would have been likely even in a Tesla or M-series, due to human reaction times.)

To keep everyone safe, drivers need to be trained better and monitored better. I would prefer to see more cars pulled over for dangerous driving than see another officer with a radar gun. Make defensive driving mandatory.

Have in place programs, licensing, regular updates, etc, to make people more aware of their surroundings. If they don’t, and therefore don’t make the roads safe for themselves and others, then take their licenses away; driving is a privilege and not a right!

  • Salome

    I was once leaving a reasonable distance between myself and the not-very-fast car in front of me (the one causing the slowness was a few cars ahead), and a truck just inserted itself.

    • Bikinis not Burkas

      Cars do the same when I drive my truck.

  • Karen Dwyer

    Er, you do know BnB is a truck driver, don’t you?
    I think his driver cam contains a lot of footage of idiotic drivers (with the appearance of first year apprentices) putting his life at risk every day.

    • Bikinis not Burkas
      • Karen Dwyer

        For what it’s worth, Mr Dwyer (who is an extremely good defensive motor bike rider, as he’s done the courses but is also -of course – not an idiot) reckons that truck drivers are much better than car drivers. Road rage and belligerence that come out of nowhere: nothing to do with driving, just people peeved off with their lives and taking it out on others.

    • Bikinis not Burkas

      Soon as I make a complaint to my local Police about road rage against myself I will post it on youtube, he tried to smash my side window on 2 occasions because I caught him speeding, lucky I have 4 1080p HD cameras in my car, very good footage for the courts!

  • Sadsak

    How about we practice and teach Good Manners. It is bad manners to barge in in front of anyone.
    Let courtesy reign on the Queens highway

    • Bikinis not Burkas

      Every driver needs an injection of Buddhism.

    • Karen Dwyer

      Spot on. It is rude, boorish, selfish behaviour en mass. The refusal to be considerate of others and the rage of having to share (space) with others is endemic.

  • Addelad

    I left Melbourne in 2002 and have lived in Canberra, Adelaide and Europe (near Brussels). Maybe Melbourne has changed dramatically, but of the 4, it was the best on the roads. The worst? Canberra – each car a vanity project with 100% road ownership.

  • Karen Dwyer

    It is bizarre-o world out there with intoxicated-with-malevolence drivers. Mr Dwyer generally saves up his horror stories for when I’m relating how some fool overtook me at inappropriate place then slammed on brakes as “payback” for such “sins” as not turning right when the traffic light is red; doing the speed limit; overtaking using overtaking lane when they are 10+km below speed limit (& driving conditions are clear) then still managing to overtake them even though they

    • Once a rider, always a rider. It gets in your blood.

      • Karen Dwyer

        Absolutely. And it’s one of the ways Mr Dwyer wooed me – taking me all over the countryside on his bike, in all weathers.. And one of the ways I wooed him was by always leaning into the corners (being one with the bike) and not being a deadweight or, worse, trying to counterbalance on the corners :-))))))))

  • Olaf Koenders

    Ahem.. Travelling on the very roads we pay for is a Right – “driving” as per Bouviers legal dictionary is “One employed in conducting a coach, carriage wagon..”. Therefore, “driving” is a paid occupation and therefore a privilege of commercial gain by using public infrastructure that should be regulated and licensed.

    Nothing can be licensed unless it’s already fundamentally lawful.

    Besides, forcing everyone to be licensed hasn’t solved anything. Testers eventually pass someone who’s failed their tests 100 times. If it were me, the permit to use the roads by such a moron should be limited to a bicycle or less, as we’ve seen some using prams to test traffic flow as well.

    Responsibility is the problem. Insurance is partly to blame.