Gumption and desire

In Newsletter Editorial5 MinutesBy Dave McCoidJune 23, 2022

I guess there’s only been one topic of discussion in and around the industry traps over the past week, and that’s the truck-versus-van tragedy that occurred on SH1 near Picton on Sunday, June 19.

Such events are always a catalyst for extreme views, particularly those disconnected from the reality of a society those with the opinions have helped create.

In the crash’s wake comes the call for a slashing of the number of trucks on the road in favour of limited technologies well over 200 years old. The premise that we can operate a high-demand, just-in-time supply chain encapsulating an almost infinite product variance emphasising such technologies is genuinely absurd. It’s clear evidence that some in academia need to take a long hard look at their curricula and relevance; it’s like saying the answer to exploring Mars is the hot air balloon. Make no mistake – and I’ve been incredibly clear on this for many years – I am not anti-rail, but using what happened on Sunday to trot out a political football such as road-versus-rail is as irrelevant as it is disgusting.

Road to Zero, the disbanding of the regulator’s ‘system integrity unit’ – it’s all political dross.

Yes, the roads are buggered, but with an administration this far left, they’re a political no-go area. We’re unlikely to see any improvement in regional roads without a change of administration or some meaningful message from the industry via effective representation.

Anyone who reads my editorials will also know I generally believe humanity has an underlying recalcitrant streak, particularly regarding driving. It stems from privilege as well as appalling driver training and education. It baffles me, therefore, that the regulator is obsessed with manipulating the environment to manage the mob’s ambivalent attitude. Central median barriers? They can certainly help reduce the potential of Sunday’s disaster. But reducing a speed limit from 100kph to 80kph on a road where only the P-value of the user bell curve was obeying the original speed limit is perplexing. If the real issue was rooted in compliance, then maybe that’s where the solution also lay?

I offer no opinion on the circumstance that led to the van on Sunday crossing the centreline; that’ll come out in due course. But if there was one stretch of road in this country that warranted a speed-trap gantry system, it’s SH1, Spring Creek to Picton. As a regular user of that road, the behaviour I see on it constantly leaves me dumbfounded. It’s swamped with people travelling to and from the Picton ferry, either desperately trying to make a booking shut-off they’ve scheduled too tightly or starting an eagerly awaited holiday with too high a level of excitement.

But even that system can be beaten. Look no further than Australia to see vehicles parked within 5km of a gantry, waiting for the math to right itself.

No, I hold true to my old chestnut of the electronic monitoring of all vehicles in the same way trucks are.

“Where did you start your journey?”

“How fast have you been travelling?”

“When did you rest?”

“Were you distracted?”

It’s all incredibly hard to pin on private motorists, but the technology exists not only to collect it, but also to keep the troops in order during a driving day.

Mobility at the level we enjoy is an utter privilege. The recidivist abuse of that privilege should be met with a crushing blow from a Thor-like regulatory and policing hammer. We have the technology to effect such a blow. What we don’t have is political nerve or desire.

All the best,

Dave McCoid
Editorial Director