Pushing the limit on the ‘S’ word

In Newsletter Editorial3 MinutesBy Gavin MyersApril 8, 2022

A couple of weeks ago we received a message on Facebook that read along the lines of: “Truckies need to slow down at roadworks, 30 means 30 not 70-80.”

In agreement I thought, “Yes, they probably do – but so does everyone else.”

The sorry state of affairs, gleaned from simple observation when covering the hundreds of kilometres we do each month in gathering the content presented in the pages of our magazine, is that adherence to temporary speed restrictions through roadworks is more the exception than the norm. Some parts of the country are better than others, but generally it doesn’t matter where you are. As for truckies, well, overall I don’t think they’re as bad as the everyday motorist.

Why has this become the situation? Surely there was a point in time when a ‘30’ sign at a set of roadworks would result in adherence to that limit by nine out of ten vehicles passing through – not the other way around. After all, the road code explicitly states that – like any posted speed limit – these temporary signs are mandatory, not advisory, and that fines could be incurred should they be exceeded.

Yes, a lack of enforcement through these temporary speed zones is one aspect. But, on the individual level, are motorists today generally too busy, selfish, or ignorant to care? Perhaps, but more so I think the problem is they have become desensitised.

Much like the general non-adherence to temporary limits has become the norm, so too have the roadworks. In their ubiquity, they’ve become just another part of the journey. For drivers who encounter them regularly, they just fade into the background. A part of the national scenery.

Two important points here – first, as much as we may pick on the topic from all angles, the fact that there’s work happening on the country’s roads is a good thing. It needs to happen. Second, being ‘desensitised’ isn’t an excuse.

But it is a very big problem…

Like the humble ‘30’ sign, the words ‘safe’ and ‘safety’ are so pervasive they’ve faded into the background. Worse, they’ve lost all meaning and potency to just about anyone other than those who have the words ‘health’ and ‘safety’ printed on their business cards and preach this specific gospel.

Personally, I’ve become incredibly turned off by the overuse of these ‘S’ words over the past few years. What’s needed is a fresh approach. The subject matter is incredibly important, but the messaging has become staid and virtually meaningless. It might as well not even be there at all – much like the temporary speed restrictions through roadworks. And that’s all very unfortunate indeed.

Take care out there,

Gavin Myers